Saturday, June 30, 2007

Random Thoughts to End the Month

While on vacation, we were able to visit one of my former roommates from Oklahoma Christian University, Doug Pospisil. He and his wife, Christa, have a new son, Zachary. We had not seen Doug since our wedding. It was the part of my vacation that I had looked forward to with the most anticipation and the part that I enjoyed the most. We really need to get down to Fort Worth more often.

I think that Janet most enjoyed being able to swim during our vacation (Although one of our hotels had the Sci-Fi Channel, which ran Stargate SG-1 throughout the week. We are big fans of the show, and it helped to have something good to watch while Christopher and I came down with bad colds during that week).

Christopher enjoyed a small amusement park for smaller children. He rode his first roller coaster, drove his first go-cart, rode with me in a little boat with a water gun which we used to spray Mommy, and played video games. He also liked going to the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman, because of the dinosaur bones. It reminded him of the movie A Night at the Museum.

Congratulations to Jason and Erin Carley on the adoption of their son from Vietnam, Loston Carley. I know that they will be great parents.

I have not seen the movie Evan Almighty, but I like one of the ideas that came from the movie. At, people are encouraged to commit "acts of random kindness" (ark). You can sign up to receive e-mails that give ideas about how to perform acts of random kindness. I am reminded that "God's kindness leads you toward repentance" (Romans 2:4, NIV), and often that kindness is demonstrated through God's people.

Focus on the Family has a web site with the best movie reviews. You can find the review of Evan Almighty at

The Jenks Church (with the help of the River Oaks Christian Church) had a great Vacation Bible School this week. Christopher attended every night, and absolutely loved it. We are glad that he enjoys going to church so much. (By the way, sometimes I mention that the Jenks Church is our former congregation. We continue to attend, and even teach, on Wednesday nights since the Contact Church does not meet then. We "left" the Jenks Church a few years ago when the early service was eliminated. Until then, we were able to attend both the Jenks and Contact Churches every Sunday.)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you" (Psalm 9:9-10, NIV).

I want to share a few words from Ron Babbit's newsletter to his supporters. Ron is our preacher in the Contact Church of Christ. He has a way with words and a way with people. If you are investing in his ministry, you are investing well in the kingdom of Christ. He is one of the most effective ministers I have ever seen, and he works with people with some of the most difficult problems.

When I became involved in urban ministry, I had an idea that we would be a little soft on biblical teaching while emphasizing feeding and clothing. I had a seeker-sensitive mindset, fearing that people would be offended by a direct presentation of Christ's gospel. I also thought that people would be turned away by teaching biblical ethics. Ron Babbit and Frank Lott have shown me that I was wrong. We do meet a lot of physical needs among the poor of Tulsa, but we see many people who are looking for God and God's directions for living. Merely feeding and clothing them would be a terrible disservice to them and to Christ.

Last week, Ron preached about King David's sins against Uriah, Bathsheba, and God. In his sermon, he challenged our congregation to turn away from laziness, drinking, drugs, pornography, sexual immorality, and immodest clothing. He pointed everyone toward the forgiveness we need in Christ. At least six people responded, asking for help and prayers. God has gifted him with the ability to confront people in a way that assures them that he cares about them.

Here are just a few stories from his newsletter:

This last week a lady responded to the LORD and shared this letter. "My dear friends at Contact, I want to thank you for teaching me about faith, patience and how great the love of GOD is. Three months ago I had no income, no idea of where I would live when my lease was up, and where my next meal was coming from. Thanks to you all showing me GOD's way, I now have a wonderful home, all the food I could want and more chances to share GOD'S WORD than I ever imagined. I am so blessed by GOD's love and so very grateful to all of you at Contact for helping me through my pain and fear and for all the love you have shown me. Thank you."

This sister brought to Contact a lady who has been faithfully cutting herself. As I was on my knees listening to her story, I reached to touch her and noticed that her arms looked like a cutting board. Even the cutting doesn't tell the hurt inside her bones---the feelings of worthlessness, the loss and emptiness, needing someone who would listen and touch with the love of the LORD. Some of the cuts on her arm were fresh. Other cuts were a few days older, but the scars in her heart are deeper.

We praise GOD that someone brought her to the Contact family for prayers of encouragement and reminders of what she means to our GOD. It was a joy watching and listening as others shared with this lady about her worth, her importance, and her need to share her love with others...

Another precious sister who has been baptized into CHRIST continues to arrive for services. She has been homeless all of her life, that's all she has ever known. She might be 23-24 years of age. She told me she had been an orphan all her life (I can't identify with that). Always having a warrant out for her arrest, she couldn't remember a time when the police were not hunting her down. She needed guidance and thought she could find it in men. "I needed someone to love me for who I am, unconditionally and to tell me about GOD," she said. She was brought to Contact by a guy. She is now pregnant and he's not the daddy. She doesn't remember who the swinging dad is, so this cat dumped her. He's struggling. They both continue to come to Contact because they love the family of GOD...So goes the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Amen? We continue seeking to settle souls into the arms of our EVERLASTING FATHER.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer

Last week, Janet, Christopher, and I saw Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer, the second in the series of movies based on the comic book. This movie was quite a bit better than the original.

I have always been a fan of the Silver Surfer. He struck a deal to be the slave of a world-devouring monster so that his girlfriend and home planet would be spared. As a result, he roams the galaxy looking for worlds with life-energy for his master, Galactus, to consume. I always found his story to be an interesting moral dilemma for a comic book to explore. (Is the Silver Surfer a villain or a hero? It depends on which planet you live on...Earth or his home world.) I was reminded of our world's child soldiers, the poor and homeless orphans who are kidnapped and forced to serve in corrupt militias around the world (look around for more information about child soldiers). They commit horrible acts, but they are doing so because of the evil men who have enslaved them.

I liked how Susan Storm convinced the Silver Surfer in the movie that he had a choice. He did not need to serve Galactus. He could choose to save Earth. Sometimes we need the encouragement of others to do the right thing.

I also appreciated the wish of Susan and Reed to live a normal life together. In the end, they chose to use their powers to protect and benefit humanity, even though it meant living as celebrities without the privacy and anonymity of a private life. Their sense of responsibility reminded me of the message of the Spider-Man movies and comic books ("With great power comes great responsibility").

I like good summer action movies, and I thought that this was a good one. I enjoyed it as much as Alien vs. Predator from a few years ago (and that one was surprisingly good). In addition, Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer promoted good, solid, ethical ideals...choosing to do good even when it meant sacrifice, and a strong sense of social responsibility over personal self-interests). It was worth seeing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A cappella Worship Music

"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19, NIV).

In the Churches of Christ, we have maintained an ancient tradition of singing worship music without instrumental accompaniment. In many congregations, the music has been outstanding by any standard.

I was aware that a few other churches share the same musical tradition. In an interesting article in this month's Christian Chronicle, Bobby Ross reports on a gathering of those groups at Pepperdine University for a symposium of sacred a cappella music. (See the article at I was intrigued by the perspectives of Eastern Orthodox Churches, Mennonite Churches, Churches of Christ, and a few Presbyterian and Baptist Churches. I did not realize that such diverse theological traditions share a common musical tradition (although each may have distinctive styles within the a cappella tradition).

In recent years, Jenks Church (our former congregation), the Richland Hills Church of Christ in Fort Worth, the Quail Springs Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, Northwest Church in Seattle, and a few other Churches of Christ have added a worship service in which instrumental music is used. However, I believe that each congregation has maintained an a cappella service, too. As unity among the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches is being re-established, I would love to hear about a few Christian Churches adopting a cappella services in their line-up of worship service options, too. It is a good tradition, and it would be nice to share it with other Christians who are not accustomed to it. (To be honest, Amazing Grace should never be sung with instrumental accompaniment.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Trouble Sleeping?

Phil Ware has a very good article with several Scriptural citations about the blessing of sleep on Heartlight's web site. It may be viewed at If you have trouble staying asleep as I sometimes do, I think that reading the Scriptures that he cites (and meditating on them) may be helpful.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Attractive Holiness

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:14-16, NASB).

In his excellent book about the Bible's book of James, Growing Slowly Wise: Building a Faith that Works, author David Roper writes,

"Despite James' somewhat distracting tendency to shuttle readily from one topic to another, however, there is one clear theme that warps its way through the woof of his writing. It is that good old word, holiness. James would have us 'holy as God is holy.'

"Holiness is a dull word these days, conjuring up images of fusty, finger-wagging prigs, who are good in the worst sense of the word, men and women with sullen, morose faces, full of rectitude and rigid duty, 'on hold for the next life,' as a Washington Post writer once put it.

"True holiness, however, is anything but dull. It is startling and arresting. It's more than being decent, good, ethical, and upright. It has that aspect the Bible calls 'the beauty of holiness.' It is what Paul has in mind when he calls on us to 'adorn the gospel' (Titus 2:10).

"Likewise, Peter writes, 'Live such good lives among unbelievers that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us' (1 Peter 2:12) The word, here twice-translated 'good,' means 'something beautify to see.'

"This is the picture of holiness James draws for us, a portrayal that fascinates us and awakens us to the hope that we can be more than we ever hoped to be; that we too can live lives of uncommon beauty and grace. It can happen as we humbly receive it. 'The LORD...will beautify the humble,' Israel's poet assures us (Psalm 149:4).

"This is also the picture of holiness that can fascinate our unbelieving friends and awaken in them the hope that there may, after all, be something more.

"Most people long for truth and righteousness, though that desire is often frustrated by what they see in certain Christians whom they perceive as self-righteous, rigid, loveless, humorless, folks who never crack a smile, who can't abide a joke. As Anthony Trollope said of his qualmish Miss Thorne, '(Her) virtues are too numerous to describe, and not sufficiently interesting to deserve description.' The oddball behavior of such people only puts off the watching world. Such 'virtue' is far less interesting to unbelievers than vice, with the result being that they cling to their vices though they may hate them. They are overthrown not by the devil but by Christians they know. Joy Davidman puts a fine point on it when she writes, 'One sanctimonious (Christian) makes a hundred unbelievers.

"Sad to say, few have seen the real thing---that extraordinary quality of life of which James speaks, which can only be described as 'beautiful.' Would that you and I had it. 'If only 10% of the world's population (did),' C.S. Lewis once mused, 'would not the world be converted and happy before a year's end?'"

Friday, June 22, 2007

Contact Church in the Christian Chronicle

Erik Tryggestad has written an article in the Christian Chronicle about how and why Churches of Christ lose a large percentage of our young people after high school. In the article, the Contact Church of Christ gets mentioned because Mr. Tryggestad was interviewing members of the group from Florida who come to help us with our summer camp. The article may be read at

Monday, June 18, 2007

Caring for Your Animal

A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. (Proverbs 12:10, NIV)

I learned many years ago that righteousness was defined as right thinking and right acting. Then, I learned that it had a relational component; righteousness involved being rightly related to God and to people. Proverbs 12:10 expands the definition a little further. Righteousness involves being rightly related to one's animals, taking care of their needs.

Proverbs 12:10 has become our family's latest memory verse. It comes in handy when Christopher does not want to feed the dog.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Suffering and Baptism

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you---not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience---through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him" (1 Peter 3:18-22, NASB).

I have read a thought-provoking sermon by evangelical Baptist theologian and author John Piper called, "Strengthened to Suffer: Christ, Noah, and Baptism." You may read the entire sermon at
Here is a portion of his sermon:

Verse 18 said that Christ died for sins and brought us to God. In other words Christ saves us. But the question is: who is us? Whom does Christ's death actually save? That's what verse 21 answers: those who are baptized. But Peter knows that this will be misunderstood if he does not qualify it. So when he says, "Baptism now saves you," he adds, "Not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience." This is virtually a definition of baptism. Baptism is an outward expression of a spiritual, inward appeal to God for cleansing. In other words, baptism is a way of saying to God: "I trust you to apply the death of Jesus to me for my sins and to bring me through death and judgment into new and everlasting life through the resurrection of Jesus."

Baptism may cleanse the body because it was by immersion. But that is not why he says it saves. It saves for one reason: it is an expression of faith. It is an appeal of faith. Paul said in Romans 10:13 that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Baptism is such a calling. It is an appeal to the Lord.

How does this strengthen us for suffering with Christ?

Like this: When we have come through the water of baptism, we have passed through death and judgment. We have been buried with Christ and we have risen with him. We have passed from death to life. Judgment is past. The suffering we are experiencing cannot be the condemnation of God. That has already been experienced for us by Christ. We have received that by faith and we have expressed our faith in baptism. It stands as a constant reminder that the worst suffering has been averted. Christ took it for us. We will never have to come into judgment. There is now no condemnation. We have already died that death in Christ and been raised in him. Therefore our present suffering is not the wrath of God but the loving discipline of our Father and the preparation for glory.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


"Lord, when did we see You...?" (Matthew 25:37, NASB).

In November 2001, Janet received a phone call from Sarah, an employee of Christian Services of Oklahoma. It had been 10 months since we had completed the paper work for our adoption, but we had not seen any progress in finding a child. With Sarah's call, we believed that things were changing.

In Oklahoma City, a little boy had been born. The original adoptive parents had backed away from adopting him. The birth mother was heart-broken. The adoption agency that had been handling the adoption was contacting other agencies, seeking at least 4 couples who would like to adopt baby Sage so that the birth mother would have a good group of potential parents from which to choose.

Baby Sage was a little black boy with problems. He had a very rare condition similar to Down Syndrome, but less was known about it since only a few cases had occurred in the United States. Sage had 6 fingers on each hand, 6 toes on each foot, a cleft palate, webbed fingers and toes, and maybe a few other cosmetic problems.

When Janet called me at work, both of us were excited about the possibility of adopting Sage. We said, "Yes! We want to be on the list for the birth mother to choose us!" I walked away from the phone to share the good news, and to prepare to take some time off from work to care for our new child.

A few days later, Sarah called Janet with the bad news. We had not been chosen. When Janet called me, I had a hard time finishing my job that day. I was frustrated, sad, and a little confused. I came to believe that God had chosen another family for Sage because he knew that it would be better for the boy. But why had he put us through this? Why had our hopes been raised and then dashed?

I discovered the answer a few years later. A co-worker had been paying attention to our ordeal. She had seen my excitement at finding out that we might be adopting Sage. She noticed the frustration and disappointment when we were not able to adopt him. She told me, "After seeing how you and Janet were willing to adopt a little boy like that, I will never tell anyone to have an abortion again! I never knew that there were people like you two who wanted a baby so much."

Sometimes we do not know the impact of our lives...especially when we are living in disappointing moments. In Matthew 25, Jesus judged the sheep, and they were shocked to discover that the little unnoticed things that they had done for others had been noticed and appreciated by the Lord. On judgment day, I want to be among the surprised sheep, the people who have cared about others without thinking much about the attention that it might bring to themselves.

For anyone reading this blog who may not know, Janet and I were blessed to be at the hospital in January 2003 when our son Christopher was born. We met his birth mother and were able to take him home from the hospital a day later. We had to wait, but God gave us a great gift on that day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Good Father

This is becoming a habit, but another good article appeared on Heartlight's website today. "Thanks Dad!" by Phil Ware may be found at

Here are two paragraphs:

Two powerful memories...really stand out in my mind above all the rest.

The first memory is of my dad, extremely ill and weak, going out to stop a guy down the street from beating his kid out front of their house. Other men--physically well and strong men--stayed inside their homes not wanting to risk involvement. Not my dad. No one should get away with beating his kid, especially not in public. On dad's watch, no one did. At that point of my dad's illness, the drunken father could have killed him, but that was a risk my father took. The well being of the child was more important to my dad than his own physical safety. So, dad intervened, protecting the kid until the police arrived on the scene with the abusive man spewing threats and profanities.

Second memory occurred when I was in middle school. The dad of a friend got up front at church. He was holding my friend's adopted baby sister. He told everyone that the home for "unwed mothers" that helped them adopt this little girl was very short on money and needed help. Otherwise, they might not make it. My dad wrote a check for more money than we had in the bank. Somehow we made it financially--actually, my folks received an unexpected check in the mail the next day. It was just enough to cover the gift.

At the end of the article, Mr. Ware makes an appeal to raise money for a couple of his favorite charities that benefit children. I would like to do the same. If anyone would like to help pre-born children find Christian families, please consider supporting the adoption agency that helped Janet and me in adopting our son, Christian Services of Oklahoma ( Also, please consider supporting the Contact Church of Christ, an urban ministry which reaches many at-risk kids in Tulsa (

As a disclaimer, I am not on staff with the adoption agency or the church, so none of the money goes to me. However, I have seen both groups at work, and I truly appreciate them.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10, NIV).

On the Heartlight website today, I read a powerful article by Kimberli J. Brackett titled "I Was a Snob and It Breaks My Heart." In the piece, she wrote, "I know I must have broken God's heart every time I told someone I was a Christian when my actions represented everything but Jesus Christ." All I can say is, "Amen, sister, I can certainly identify with those thoughts. I hate it when I misrepresent Jesus, too." The entire article may be read at

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tony Dungy: A Good Role Model

"Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed" (Psalm 112:1-2, NASB).

Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy has turned me into a Colts fan. I heard him interviewed on the radio program FamilyLife Today a few years ago, and I have admired his work and life ever since. He comes across as a sincere, godly, and solid family man.

About a year and a half ago, he and his family suffered an unimaginable tragedy when his oldest son committed suicide. During the emotional turmoil, his inner strength (which is based on his faith in Christ) helped him to lead the rest of his family through those difficult days. I heard a recording of Coach Dungy addressing a prayer breakfast before the Super Bowl just a few weeks later, in which he talked about what he had learned from his children. It was a very moving speech, revealing a very caring father who was dealing with very difficult circumstances.

Last season, he became the first black head coach to lead his team to a victory in the Super Bowl.

Recently, I became a subscriber to World Magazine, a weekly news magazine that seeks to approach current events from a biblical worldview. In this week's issue, the magazine contains an excellent article about Tony Dungy (see I would like to share a few quotes.

"Dungy used the big national platform to draw attention to his faith, even as he was being heralded as the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl. He didn't run from the racial side of the story, but he was quick to draw attention to the fact that he and Bears coach Lovie Smith were not only African-Americans but also Christians who sought to live out their faith in football."

"Yet he'll use his influence for faith-based causes. He avoids commercial endorsements to keep a focus on his family message. He and his wife Lauren have quietly adopted children to blend with their birth children. He was scolded after the Super Bowl by advocates of same-sex marriage for accepting a fatherhood award from the Indiana Family Institute, which was supporting a marriage amendment. He came back with a ringing endorsement of the amendment and family values."

"Those close to the coach attest that his faith helps him not only with fatherhood but also with coaching. 'The inspiring thing about Tony Dungy's story is that good guys do finish first,' says Colts owner (Jim) Irsay. 'You do not have to compromise your core values to win and to be competitive.' Irsay sees Dungy as humble and quiet, yet not weak. 'A humble person can be strong and disciplined and tough and all those things you need to be,' Irsay said."

I understand that Coach Dungy's autobiography is scheduled to be available sometime this summer. I plan on reading and reviewing it on my blog.

You may not be able to read the entire story online without subscribing to World Magazine. A subscription is worth the price, though. It is an outstanding magazine.

Christians Adopting Rwandan Orphans

"For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing" (Deuteronomy 10:17-18, NASB).

I read a great story in The Oklahoman today about Christians who are adopting orphaned children from Rwanda. They are members of the Quail Springs Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, a congregation that supports missionaries serving Christ's Church in Rwanda. After visiting an orphanage in the capitol city of Rwanda, a family decided to go beyond giving money (which is a very godly thing to do, of course). They decided to start the process of adopting two of the children. When other members of the church found out, they were inspired to do the same. The entire article may be read at

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Father, Forgive Them

"But Jesus was saying, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing'" (Luke 23:34, NASB).

In Jesus Christ, we see a quality of character that cannot be easily faked.

We see a man who had been falsely accused of crimes that he had not committed. We see a man who had been betrayed by one of his closest friends, and abandoned by the others. We see a man who was abused by the system. We see a man who was mocked and tortured without mercy. We see a man who deserved all the praise that could be given, but who received anger and hatred instead. We see a man who was facing the wrath of God for the sins of his enemies.

But we do not see a bitter and resentful man. We do not see a man gritting his teeth, trying not to call down the armies of heaven to wipe out an evil and ungrateful humanity.

In Jesus Christ, we see the character of God. We see a man who would rather suffer than see us suffer. We see a man who would rather forgive than destroy. We see a man of strength surrounded by a sea of weakness. We see the supernatural...not merely a man of God, but God himself in the form of a man.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Overcoming Evil With Good

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21, NASB).

This is from a small book by Joseph Stowell titled Overcoming Evil With Good: The Impact of a Life Well-Lived. I do not believe that it is in print any longer. If you can still find it, it's a good booklet, and it can be read quickly.

The Armitage Baptist Church is one of the leading evangelical churches in the city of Chicago. It is positioned in the heart of one of our toughest neighborhoods and is led by a second-generation pastor. On the first anniversary of the murder of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion clinic doctor in Florida, pro-abortion activists around the country decided to commemorate the moment with what they called a Night of Resistance. This Night of Resistance would comprise demonstrations to make a distinct point for their cause and profile Christians as radical, murderous elements of society.

Of all the places that they could have chosen to demonstrate in Chicago, they selected Armitage Baptist Church...

For years the members of Armitage Baptist Church have patiently and persistently established a beachhead for God by submitting the agenda and program of their church to the authority of Christ. The members have reached their culturally diverse Chicago neighborhood by showing hospitality to all who live there...

Members have unashamedly, yet compassionately, stood for righteousness against the powerful influences of gay activism and the agendas of the abortionists that are so influential in neighborhoods such as theirs...This would be unsettling for any church, but an especially unsettling prospect for a church located in such a volatile gang-ridden neighborhood.

A couple of weeks later, while returning from a trip, I picked up the airplane copy of U.S. News and World Report...the reporter was discussing the incident at Armitage. He wrote,

"...Flyers posted around town to draw a major crowd urged demonstrators to 'Dress to shock and/or impress, come in costume and show your rage'...A few demonstrators wore patches that said, 'Feminist Witch' and 'Support Vaginal Pride'...The most common chant was 'Racist, sexist, antigay/Born again bigots, go away.' The 'racist' charge is particularly weird: The Armitage congregation is roughly 30 percent black, 30 percent Hispanic and 40 percent white. The security force on the steps seemed about half Hispanic...For 'born-again bigots,' the congregation has made an unusually successful effort to cut across racial lines...While the crowd chanted about racism, a group of young black men showed up wearing long red jackets that said 'SHS Security.' They were from a South Side black Baptist church, the Sweet Holy Spirit, and had come to protect a fellow evangelical church...Next, five yellow buses rolled up and a seemingly endless stream of people poured out...They were evangelicals from a second South Side church, mostly black families, showing up for the service. More than a thousand people were now in the church. The security men had been singing all along...Now, they gave way to a choir of black kids. The demonstrators were done for. The kids were too good and too loud."

I talked with Charles Lyons, the pastor of the Armitage church. He added a P.S. to the article. For days before the demonstration, demonstrators had canvassed every home in the neighborhood with leaflets inviting individuals to come and join the demonstration. In a neighborhood which is prone to positive perspectives on both the gay and abortion issues, one might have expected a pretty good turnout. But Pastor Lyons noted that not one neighbor joined the demonstration. I asked him why. He replied that the neighbors have come to know that Armitage Baptist Church cares for them and is concerned about their needs. When the Chicago school system could not open for several days in the fall of 1993 due to budget problems, the schoolteachers who attended his church volunteered their time and opened up an alternate school in their building for the neighborhood children.

Their good works not only silenced a powerful group of adversaries but created a neighborhood beachhead that even the most hostile opponents could not erode---a triumph won by the compelling power of lives well lived.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Thoughts on Taking a Stand by Rubel Shelly

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21, NASB).

I read an interesting article by Rubel Shelly at Although I do not totally agree with his reluctance to engage in social activism, he offered some good ideas about how to combat evil in different ways. (In the spirit of William Wilberforce, I do not mind asking the leaders in government, business, or the media to act responsibly. I believe that social activism can be done in a noble and Christ-like manner.) Some of Rubel's ideas included:

"Taking a stand" on teen pregnancy is better done by offering kids something productive and holy to do than by railing against condom distribution and picketing Planned Parenthood.

"Taking a stand" on alcohol and drugs is better accomplished by parental example than parental threats.

"Taking a stand" on homosexuality looks more Christ-like when gays are treated with dignity rather than made the butt of mean jokes.

"Taking a stand" on TV sex and violence is better done by playing outside with your children than by sending $100 to a clean-up-TV campaign.

"Taking a stand" on spouse abuse is better done by funding shelter and legal help for victims than by frothing at the mouth.

The entire article may be read at the link mentioned earlier in this post.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

CBS Evening News Had Some Good News Tonight

I do not watch much national news, but I caught the CBS Evening News tonight. It had a very good story about a ministry to new single mothers in the South. Because of the ministry of Cary Christian Center, the infant mortality rate in the 2 counties in which it works has dropped to almost non-existent. It reminded me of the good work that Mary Lasarsky is doing through the ministry to new mothers at the Contact Church of Christ. The news story was very positive. I may check out the CBS Evening News more frequently, if this type of story becomes the norm. You may read about it at

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Best Translation of the Bible

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16, NIV).

As the story goes, four ministers were eating lunch together when the topic of Bible translations came up. The first minister said, "I prefer the King James Version, because of its dignified and majestic language." The second preacher replied, "I like to preach from the New American Standard Bible, because of how closely it sticks to a literal translation of the original Hebrew and Greek words." The next responded, "I use the Message paraphrase, because it seems to really capture the heart of God's message to us." The last preacher had remained silent during the discussion. Finally, he was asked his opinion. "I have always liked my mother's translation," he replied. One of the ministers said, "I didn't know that your mother translated the Bible." The preacher answered, "Oh, yes. She translated the Bible into her everyday life...the way she spoke, the way she prayed, and the way she treated people. Her translation was the best I have ever seen."

Trendy Churches

Jen Taylor has posted an article from Lark News on her blog that every church leader who likes to be on the cutting-edge of church fads needs to read. Click on

Friday, June 01, 2007

It's Okay to Have Enemies

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:43-45, NASB).

A few years ago, I heard the evangelical preacher John MacArthur say something like, "It's good to have enemies if they hate you for the right reasons." He was right.

It's a horrible thing for Christians to have enemies because we have been rude, arrogant, or selfish. In those cases, we must repent and ask for forgiveness from those who have been offended. We must strive to refrain from being unnecessarily offensive.

On the other hand, if we are hated because we are trying to do the right thing and honor Christ, we must learn to live with the fact that we will not be able to please everyone. Sometimes honoring our Lord will turn some people off and anger others. It will not be our intent, but it will be the result.

When we have made enemies because of our faith in Christ, it will be long as we remember to follow Jesus' instructions to love them and to pray for them.