Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Have you noticed the precipitous rise in sanctimonious hand-wringing by those of us who go by the name Christian. We’re so worried! Everyone is turning against us. No one likes us anymore. The President loves the Muslims and we are ignored. All our rights are being taken away. “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll go eat worms!” We sound like a collective chorus of Linda Rondstadt’s “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me!”

I would suggest it may be time to pay attention to the Biblical injunction found in 1 Corinthians 16:13: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

AWRIGHT!!!! I can hear someone growling. It’s about time someone told us to buck up and fight back. Well, before you think that’s what I’m suggesting, let me clarify. I am not suggesting that it’s time for Christians to fight, at least not in physical, personal or political terms. The fight is a spiritual one. As you know, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.”

What I am recommending is that we remind ourselves of what the Scripture has promised us as followers of Jesus Christ.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
2Tim. 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Why do you think Jesus warned us to count the cost (Luke 14:25-35) before surrendering our lives to Him? Why is being a disciple of Jesus Christ becoming a “cross-carrier” (Luke 9:23)? Because He didn’t promise us a rose garden. Rather, He promised that He, the Rose of Sharon, would be with us in our trials and that we would be blessed if we are persecuted for His name’s sake.

Matt. 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Peter added:

1Pet. 3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
1Pet. 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
1Pet. 3:16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Christian, stop bemoaning the fact that Jesus’ promise to you is coming true. Be ready to live in a way that exemplifies Christ and exalts His name in the midst of very difficult times. And always, ALWAYS, remember that “these momentary light afflictions are producing for us an eternal weight of glory!” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Be steadfast, ya’ll!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Dare You, Hollywood

My wife and I and two of our adult daughters thought about going to a movie. In this case it was a new action movie with established stars that looked very interesting from the TV ads. One of our daughters found a review at this site. We learned that there is an enormous amount of profanity of the worst kind and some other stuff that we would prefer not being exposed to as entertainment.

It got me to thinking. At most of these movie theaters, when a first-run movie comes out, they use multiple screens. Why not try an experiment, Hollywood? Why not make a version of the movie without the profanity or sex or nudity or whatever? Then offer customers a choice. Watch the sanitized version or the original.

My suspicion is the one without all the filth would do better (perhaps I'm being overly optimistic). But suppose that were the case. Wouldn't you think Hollywood would want to know that? In their pursuit of the public's entertainment dollars, surely they would want to know what sells best.

Here's where my pessimism sets in. I really don't think Hollywood, as a whole, would want to know that the public prefers the cleaner versions. Because there is a large portion of the entertainment industry with an agenda, an agenda of degradation of culture, language and humanity.

Once again the Scripture is dead-on in its description of those who not only do these kinds of sins, but give hearty approval and encouragement to others to do the same.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Imprecatory Prayers & President Obama

One of the very first blogs I wrote in this space was in response to Wiley Drake and others at the SBC. Now here I go again. Wiley, we've got to stop meeting like this.

I listened to Wiley's radio interview with Alan Colmes and was deeply saddened by what he said and by the fact that the media loves to give him a platform for saying these things.

I do not agree with Wiley's contention that God commands us to pray imprecatory prayers. First of all the term imprecatory prayers is a bit in error. The Book of Psalms contains several Psalms (e.g., 58; 68; 109; 137) where the writer of the Psalm calls on the Lord to execute His vengeance on his enemies. It is true that the Psalmist, in each case, is talking to God. But a more correct biblical understanding would be to say Imprecatory Psalms, not Imprecatory Prayers.

Imprecation is, in essence, putting a curse on someone or asking God to curse them. Nowhere in the Bible are Christians encouraged to curse anyone, especially those with whom we disagree or those who would do us harm. In fact, we are commanded not to do so and to do just the opposite.

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them." Romans 12:14

The Bible could not be clearer.

In admitting that he is praying for President Obama's death, Wiley is violating the clear teaching of Scripture. Even if he considers the President to be his enemy, the Bible says to: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

As President of the California Southern Baptist Convention I am especially saddened by this. The shame is that some will conclude that all of us share Wiley's views. Nothing could be further from the truth. I could not disagree more with Wiley on this issue and I know that Southern Baptists, as a whole, definitely disagree with him. We are to pray for all who are in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

May God forgive us all when we do not display Christ-like attitudes and actions.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You Go, God

Today we had a thunderstorm. No big deal, you say. Well, it is if you live in Southern California where thunderstorms are normally limited to late summer in what we call the monsoon season when the stifling heat mixes with the seasonal humidity and thunder clouds build tens of thousands of feet into the sky before dumping their contents on the parched desert landscape.

Today was different. This was a weather front moving through that had lightning and thunder and rain and the most stunningly beautiful patchwork quilt of clouds. I use the term quilt intentionally for most of the day there was the feeling of being under a quilt looking up.

All that weather brought to memory a wonderful family outing we had several years ago when all seven of us piled in the van and drove down the freeway to the reservation to watch the fireworks on July the Fourth. We parked beside the frontage road and climbed out. A few sat on the van and some of us had lawn chairs. Actually that only lasted a short while for in the light of the one street lamp one of the kids yelled and pointed out a snake that crawled out of the bushes and under the van. In a heartbeat, all the kids who had not been on the van were instantly atop it. They stayed there for the rest of the evening.

Then came the fireworks. Thrilling in their multi-colored display. But as we watched an amazing thing took place. In the distance behind the fireworks over the mountain range that rises to some 11,000 feet, the heat buildup produced clouds that were full of what we used to call heat lightning in the South mesmerizing and dazzling us with a resplendent display of God's creative handiwork and distracting us totally from the fireworks.

One member of the family said, “You go, God!” And He did.

Job 37:1 “At this also my heart trembles
and leaps out of its place.
Job 37:2 Keep listening to the thunder of his voice
and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
Job 37:3 Under the whole heaven he lets it go,
and his lightning to the corners of the earth.
Job 37:4 After it his voice roars;
he thunders with his majestic voice,
and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard.
Job 37:5 God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.