Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ideas for Christians Who Want to Help Orphans

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27).

World Magazine contains an interesting article this week about churches that provide matching funds and no-interest loans to families who want to adopt. It may be read at

Jenna Marie Howard of World Orphans left a comment on my blog this afternoon at She works for a group that helps churches provide homes for orphans in countries that have been devastated by the AIDS crisis, famine, war or other factors that have left the communities with large numbers of orphans. Churches may be interested in using the services of World Orphans at

Finally, I can recommend Christian Services of Oklahoma ( for families wanting to adopt children. The cost is about half the normal cost of an adoption because Christians from Churches of Christ donate enough money to keep expenses down. We used Christian Services of Oklahoma during our adoption process.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Proper Perspective on Voting

"What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away" (1 Corinthians 7:29-31).

Next week, I plan on voting for pro-life candidates across the board. As usual, some of my candidates will likely win and some will likely lose. How should I respond?

John Piper offers this advice based on 1 Corinthians 7:29-31: "So it is with voting. We should do it. But only as if we were not doing it. Its outcomes do not give us the greatest joy when they go our way, and they do not demoralize us when they don't. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart of holds together...This world matters. But it is not ultimate. It is the stage for living in such a way to show that this world is not our God, but that Christ is our God. It is the stage for using the world to show that Christ is more precious than the world.

"So it is with voting. We do not withdraw. We are involved--but as if not involved. Politics does not have ultimate weight for us. It is one more stage for acting out the truth that Christ, and not politics, is supreme."

The entire article is available at

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Importance of Biblical Inerrancy

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).

Recently, ACU Press has been publishing material challenging the inerrancy of the Bible. It has created some controversy since ACU Press is associated with Churches of Christ, a group of churches normally respectful of the Bible. Some church members have wondered why this is an issue. I recognize that most of my readers may not be members of Churches of Christ, but since this is a fundamental issue, it's important for anyone who follows Jesus Christ. It's an issue essential to the Christian faith.

In the Contact Church of Christ, we have a class for prospective members who are interested in learning about Christ, the church, and the Bible. In one of our sessions, we introduce participants to the essentials we believe. On page 22 of our workbook, we teach, "The Bible is God's Word to us. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is the truth without any mixture of error."

Why would we teach such a thing? Why does it matter? Can't I follow Jesus without believing the Bible?

It's important for many reasons, but one reason especially stands out: it's a matter of trust. As the Bible states, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). If we don't believe the biblical message, we don't believe Christ. We do not trust him. We do not truly believe in him, since we do not trust his word. The Christian's faith is built upon believing the promises of God which are contained within the Bible. If we act without faith, we are simply going through the motions. We are living by ritual and habit, rather than by faith in the God who can be trusted.

Therefore, this is a position worth defending. It is an essential ingredient to developing a solid, healthy, and vibrant faith in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not Quite Committed

(If you have trouble reading it, please click on the comic strip for a larger version.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Real McCoy

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17).

While reading USA Today earlier this week, I came across a column about Tim Tebow's choice for the Heisman trophy. As last year's winner, Mr. Tebow has a vote in this year's contest. Since Tim Tebow is well known for his devotion to Christ, I was interested in his vote and the reasons behind it.

Tim Tebow will be voting for University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy this year because of his accomplishments on the football field as well as his demonstrated Christian character. (For Tim Tebow, character counts as much as athleticism.)

As an Oklahoman, I knew little about Colt McCoy. We are not big fans of the University of Texas north of the Red River, of course. So I searched the Internet for more information about Colt McCoy, and found a great article about him at

After reading the article, I understood Tim Tebow's endorsement of Colt McCoy for the Heisman trophy. I also began to hope that Mr. McCoy would be drafted by the Indianapolis Colts so that he could play for Coach Tony Dungy in the NFL. I believe they would enjoy working with each other. Besides, wouldn't it be appropriate that Colt McCoy play for the Indianapolis Colts, my favorite NFL team?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

People Are Looking for Answers

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).

I am constantly honored to have people in my life asking me questions about God, Christ, faith, hope, sin, and related topics. I have become convinced that people are looking for solid answers to their questions. They have grown dissatisfied with questions, uncertainty, and insecurity in their lives. More than ever, they are willing to consider God and his word.

These are some of the questions I have been asked this week (along with my answers):

1. If God created everything, where did God come from?

For anything to exist, something has had to have always existed. Something needs to be eternal. Nothing produces nothing. If at some point in the past nothing existed, we could not exist now, because something cannot come from nothing. So the question becomes, "What has always existed?" We could say that the material universe has always existed. However, physicists and astronomers point to a beginning of our universe. They also expect an end to it. If they are correct (and I believe they are correct in recognizing that there was a beginning), the material universe cannot be eternal. So, the only other option would be: something beyond the material universe must have been responsible for creation. It would need to be outside the laws of physics, because it would need to be eternal itself. God is a spirit who is beyond the laws of physics. He is eternal and the source of the physical universe.

2. My Muslim daughter asked her spiritual leader why God answers my prayers since I am a Christian, and he answers her prayers as a Muslim. He told her that God answers the prayers of everyone, but that only Muslims will go to heaven. How do I respond?

Jesus Christ is unique. He said that no one could go to his Father (God) unless they followed him as the Way. He is the only begotten Son of God. He is the only one who has lived a sinless life. He is the only one qualified to be a sacrifice on behalf of sinners in order to satisfy the penalty for sin. He was proven to be acceptable in his sacrifice when he was resurrected.

The issue is not whether Muslims are superior to Christians. The issue is whether Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to be our Savior. If he is (and I believe he is), then he is the one worthy of following.

3. My Muslim son-in-law is always lying to my daughter. He is dishonest with her all the time, but he calls himself a good Muslim. How can he do that?

I don't know. I do not know the rules of Islam concerning lying. I don't know what they consider to be "good." (My answer was completely inadequate, but honest.)

4a. What church are you a member of, Terry?

The Church of Christ

4b. I didn't know you were a member of Barack Obama's church.

I'm not. He's a member of the United Church of Christ. It's a liberal denomination. The Churches of Christ are conservative. (I wish I had given a more complete answer. I should have said that the United Church of Christ is a theologically liberal denomination while the Churches of Christ are theologically conservative, because I probably left the impression that I was talking about the churches' political stances.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Candidate Surveys

With 2 weeks until election day, I would like to recommend two online voter guides:

1. Focus on the Family Action has produced surveys of federal and state candidates for each state at

2. Oklahomans for Life has produced a survey concerning pro-life issues for federal and state candidates in Oklahoma at

I hope these voter guides help in making decisions concerning the upcoming elections.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The End of Spiritual Gifts

"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).

As a young Christian, I was taught that the Holy Spirit ceased to give spiritual gifts to believers when the New Testament writings were complete. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 was the primary text being used to support the conclusion. As my teachers (who were very good men) reasoned, the "perfection" referenced in the passage was the complete New Testament, since "perfection" could also be translated as "completion." When the New Testament was completed, the gifts of the Spirit would cease.

However, I became skeptical of their interpretation of the passage. Was the Holy Spirit intending to communicate that idea when he inspired those verses? Did the apostle Paul have the completion of the New Testament in mind when he wrote those verses? Would the Corinthian Christians who received the message have interpreted Paul's words in such a manner? Nothing in the context of 1 Corinthians suggested an affirmative answer to any of my questions. The interpretation I had been taught seemed to have been forced onto the passage, rather than derived from it.

A better explanation of the passage could be found in understanding "perfection" as referring to the return of Jesus Christ. Paul had already written, "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God" (1 Corinthians 4:5). In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul would describe in more detail the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the transformation of believers. Until then, as I understand 1 Corinthians 13, the Holy Spirit would continue to provide God's people with spiritual gifts.

I have not found anything within the context of 1 Corinthians supporting the idea that spiritual gifts were expected to end at the completion of the New Testament. However, I have found evidence within the text that the return of Jesus would usher in a time of completion or perfection. Therefore, I must conclude that spiritual gifts were expected to continue until Christ returns.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Express

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10, New King James Version).

We saw The Express this weekend. The movie tells the story of Ernie Davis, the first black Heisman trophy winner. It is a story of how a man of character overcame significant obstacles to achieve success, and in the end, quietly strike a blow against institutional social injustice.

Although growing up in a broken home, a racist society, and with a speech impediment, Ernie Davis overcame his circumstances and became a hero to his generation. Much of his success came from a wise grandfather ("Pops") who imparted patience, wisdom, strength, and respect for the Scriptures to his young grandson. In the end, we see a young man who faced his challenges with dignity and grace.

Although nearly forgotten by football fans today, Ernie Davis should be honored as a heroic figure in the history of college football. This movie helps.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Using Evangelism as an Excuse for Inaction

Sometimes I hear someone say, "The only way to change the situation is through evangelism." To be frank, I suspect that such words hide cowardly hearts. I have used such words as an excuse for inaction when I have not wanted to confront wrongdoing and injustice, and I'm ashamed of it.

At, Michael Spielman addresses the issue of when evangelism is the inappropriate first response to injustice. Here is an excerpt:

"Many wonderful and godly saints have suggested that evangelism is the best and only hope for changing people's minds about abortion. Merely changing someone's mind about abortion (without getting them saved), they argue, does no good in the long run. 'They will simply go to hell as a more moral person.' While this is true as it applies to the parent, such reasoning wholly neglects the person whose life hangs in the balance, and for this reason, such logic is faulty. Changing someone's mind about abortion does not have in view the creation of a more moral person, it has in view the saving of a child's life. If you change a pregnant woman's thinking about aborting her child, it will not gain her access to heaven, but it will certainly gain her child access to life, and that is of no small significance!

"Here's what it boils down to. If any of us were to witness the kidnapping and subsequent assault of a small child (especially if it was our own child), two things would be true. First, we wouldn't delay intervention with thoughts of 'calling' and 'resource distribution.' In other words, we wouldn't stand there and think, 'Is God calling me to help this child?' or, ' Is getting involved in this really a wise use of my resources?' Secondly, we wouldn't think for a minute that evangelism were the only legitimate means of helping this child. We might physically confront the assailant, we might call the police, we might ask for help from those around us, but there isn't a person alive who would think to himself, 'The only biblical way to spare this child is to share the gospel with her attacker so that he will repent and stop assaulting her.' Such an 'evangelistic' approach would be in violation of so many biblical principles that it would, in fact, be an absurdly 'unbiblical' path to take."

Perhaps nothing is less appealing than Christians who are too paralyzed by fear to help those who are being mistreated. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to be timid. We have been told by seeker-sensitive church leaders that, above all else, we must not be offensive. We must seek the popular approval of the masses if we hope to grow churches. Taking a stand to confront the oppressors on behalf of the oppressed would not be popular in many cases. Some postmodern Emergent leaders have told us that we cannot reach the younger generation by confronting evil because they are offended that we believe in such things as the existence of truth and lies, right and wrong, and justice and injustice.

I, for one, am tired of living in slavery to the opinions of others when people are being hurt by the actions of careless or malicious people. Helping hurting people is more important than my popularity. I do not want to hide my cowardice and inaction with lame excuses about not wanting to offend the unjust and apathetic. When it came to helping the hurting, Christ never caved in to popular opinion. He couldn't care less what people who were offended by his compassionate actions thought about him. It's time for his followers to actually follow his example. It's time for compassion with courage.

Speaking in Tongues

Earlier this year, a friend on my job expressed concern for me because I have not been given the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. He has been taught that all Christians need to be able to speak in tongues. So, naturally, he was concerned when he discovered that I have not been gifted with such abilities from the Holy Spirit. I appreciated his concern and his willingness to try to help me with something he believed to be essential to my walk with Christ. I often act in a similar way with believers who have not been baptized, do not worship with a local church, or do not pray or read the Bible on a regular basis. His concern was a sign that he cared about me and my relationship with Jesus.

In an effort to help me, my friend loaned me a book about the need for all Christians to speak in tongues. After reading it, I had to admit to my friend that I had not been persuaded. I pointed to the apostle Paul's inspired words: "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?" (1 Corinthians 12:29-30). In the context, the apostle was asking rhetorical questions. The implied answer in each case was "No." He was making the point that each Christian is gifted in different ways. No one is self-sufficient in the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit has gifted each member of the church with different gifts so that we need each other and can help each other. God's church has been designed to be an interdependent group of people. We are not expected to have the same gifts. We are expected to use our gifts to strengthen each other in faith and love, because each of us has deficiencies.

Just as I did not buy into his argument, my friend did not fully accept mine. However, we remain good friends. He is a good man who wants to serve Christ with all of his heart. Perhaps some day we will see eye-to-eye on this issue, but until then we will continue to respect each other and remain good friends.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tithing: A Time for Generosity and Joy

Until tonight, I had thought of tithing as a duty similar to paying taxes. I had considered it to be a simple ritual without much appeal.

Tonight in a Bible class, Frank Lott showed me something that has changed my perspective about the Old Testament practice of tithing. He showed me a passage from Deuteronomy that revealed God's intent for tithing. God meant for it to be a time to celebrate. He wanted it to become a party in his presence. He wanted it to be a time of joy and generosity. He wanted his people to celebrate with their families, while sharing their offerings with the Levites (who had next to nothing of their own), the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows among them. Notice these powerful verses about how God originally intended for tithing to be observed:

"Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything else you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.

"At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands" (Deuteronomy 14:22-29).

At some point, the intent of the tithe may have been lost. Legalism may have transformed a party into a burden. But God never intended for it to be that way. He always wanted the offering of the tithe to be a time of celebration, joy, and generosity. He intended for it to bring people closer together as they shared with each other. He designed for it to generate awe and respect for himself as the one who had provided his people with so much to celebrate and to share.

Let's recapture the spirit of the original design for the tithe in our giving today. Let's enjoy, share, and be grateful for the blessings of God in our lives.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nature Friend

"How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures"(Psalm 104:24).

Our son Christopher loves nature. He loves to go to the Tulsa Zoo, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and the Oklahoma Aquarium. Every week since he was a toddler, we have recorded the PBS program Nature for him on Sunday nights. He loves to learn about the variety of animals found throughout creation.

A few weeks ago, we subscribed to Nature Friend, a good magazine for children in elementary school. As the magazine states on page 3, "Nature Friend upholds the principles of the inspired Word of God, high Christian family standards, Divine Creation (no evolution), and practical Christian stewardship of God's creation." As much as we like the Tulsa Zoo and the Nature television series, they approach nature from an atheistic worldview. We must be careful to counter the promotion of atheism when we use them. This magazine, on the other hand, supports a Christian worldview as it teaches children about the world in which we live.

More information about Nature Friend may be found at or by calling 1-877-434-0765.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Make the Situation Better

Here is a quote from Coach Tony Dungy's book, Quiet Strength:

"My dad was always fascinated by how and why things worked, but at the end of the day, he was most concerned with character. He believed that most of life was an object lesson, and he always found ways to pass those lessons on to his kids.

"One day I was complaining to him about the unfairness of life. I forget the situation, but I know he agreed that I had been wronged. His response has stayed with me for many years, even though it took me a while to completely figure it out.

"'When I was in the service,' he said, 'they didn't want to teach us how to fly planes, so we taught ourselves to fly.'

"We. Blacks. African Americans.

"Tuskegee is located about forty miles east of Montgomery, in the heart of Alabama. Founded by General Thomas Simpson Woodward in 1833, the town was allegedly named for a nearby Native American tribe, the Taskigis. Through the years, it has been best known for Tuskegee University, which dates back to 1881, and the school's first president, Booker T. Washington.

"In 1940, the United States Army Air Corps selected Tuskegee as the training ground for its fledgling program to train black pilots, who up to that point had been barred from flying in the military. This was the Tuskegee Experiment. Until 1946, when blacks were fully integrated into military training, Tuskegee trained roughly a thousand pilots, none of whom were shot down during World War II bombing runs in Europe. Tuskegee also trained all the support personnel that kept those planes operational throughout the war.

"My father was part of the Tuskegee Experiment.

"I never knew this until my dad's funeral service in 2004, when someone shared the story during one of the eulogies. Why hadn't he told me about Tuskegee? Maybe it's because he believed the greater point was the lesson. What's important is not the accolades and memories of success but the way you respond when opportunities are denied.

"Because I was just a kid, I didn't think to ask for more details when he said, 'We taught ourselves to fly.' It sounded easy. The lesson, which I did not understand clearly until much later, was that you shouldn't allow external issues to be a hindrance, whether those issues are based on race or any other factor. Things will go wrong at times. You can't always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response. Your options are to complain or to look ahead and figure out how to make the situation better.

"I use what I learned from that lesson daily--and almost minute by minute on game day" (pp. 15-16).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

True Womanhood

While reading John Piper's sermon at the True Woman Conference today at,
I was prompted to think about how my wife Janet exemplifies a godly woman, a woman who trusts in Christ and serves others with a compassionate heart. Normally, I do not think much about what it means to be a woman, since I am a man and I am trying to teach my son to become a godly man someday, too. However, I would like for my son to marry a godly woman in the future, so it is important to think about what true womanhood is.

I thought back to when we were waiting for someone to choose us as adoptive parents for a child. We were leading home Bible studies at an apartment complex through the urban ministry that eventually evolved into the Contact Church of Christ. I was teaching the adults while Janet was teaching the children. After a while, we found out that the mother of one of the boys who was coming to the Bible study was expecting another baby. Due to complications with her pregnancy, she could not leave her apartment except for doctor's appointments. At the same time, the mother of some of the other children who were attending the Bible study was expecting a child, too.

Each Monday evening, an hour before we would start the Bible study, we would take some food to the mother who could not leave her apartment, and enjoy dinner with her. For the most part, I would eat my meal, while Janet and the woman would talk. Then, we would go to the apartment where we would conduct the Bible study, but often Janet would stop and talk to the other woman (who was rumored to be a prostitute) along the way.

Eventually, the children were born. The woman who had been confined to her apartment had a healthy baby girl, but the other woman had a baby boy with Down syndrome. When Janet realized that neither woman had been given a baby shower, she organized a shower for both of them, inviting the women of the Jenks Church to join with her in celebrating the lives of the newborn babies.

Although we continued to wait for the opportunity to become parents, Janet did not become bitter. Instead, she reached out to a couple of mothers who were struggling. She saw that they had no family or friends who could help with their newborn children, so she made sure that they received tons of the essentials needed for the first several months of their lives. Janet did not let her needs prevent her from connecting with others to meet their needs. She displayed Christ-honoring compassion and faith, the marks of a truly good woman.

I hope that my future daughter-in-law will share my wife's character. If she does, Christopher will be a very blessed young man.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dealing with Pornography

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28, New King James Version).

Mark Driscoll is producing a free online book dealing with the problem of pornography at (Warning: The content would be unsuitable for young children, but very appropriate for everyone who is a teenager or older.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wall Street and Babylon

I know that Wall Street is not Babylon, but does anyone else see some similarities between the recent news on Wall Street and the description of the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18?

"Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

'Come out of her, my people,
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Mix her a double portion from her own cup.
Give her as much torture and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
"I sit as queen; I am not a widow,
and I will never mourn."
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

'When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry,
"Woe! Woe, O great city,
O Babylon, city of power!
In one hour your doom has come!"

'The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more--cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.

'They will say, "The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered." The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn...'"(Revelation 18:4-15).

Is Wall Street being judged like Babylon from Revelation 18? I don't know, but I see some disturbing similarities. Like Babylon, Wall Street has been living in luxury without concern for those who could be affected by their policies. Who cares if Chinese Christians are being imprisoned and forced to make goods through slave labor? Who cares if American employees are working without health care insurance? Who cares if Central American employees are working in dangerous and even deadly situations? Who cares if our customers are becoming addicts to something harmful? Who cares if our toys are covered in lead paint?

The current economic crisis should not be a time to merely re-think accounting procedures and mortgage qualifications. This crisis should call us to repentance. This crisis should cause American and international businesses to reconsider how people should be treated, from their employees to their customers. This is a time for corporate repentance on an international level. It's time to love our neighbors as ourselves. It's time to consider the needs of those who have not been considered, those who have not been treated justly. It's time for repentance at the highest levels of our society.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Race and Churches of Christ

Bobby Ross has written a good series about race and Churches of Christ in the latest edition of the Christian Chronicle. At, Bobby interviewed 4 leaders from racially integrated Churches of Christ. I found B.D. Holt Sr.'s answer to the third question the most fascinating, as he explained the historical development of different worship styles among black and white congregations. At the bottom of Bobby's article, you will find links to the other articles in the series.

The Confident and Humble Leader

In the Old Testament, King David epitomized the confident and humble leader. He faced the fiercest of foes with a confidence envied by others. When confronted with the challenge of the veteran warrior-giant Goliath, David quickly volunteered to meet him in battle. He trusted in the God who would not be mocked and who had enabled him to take on lions and bears with success (1 Samuel 17). Yet he had a heart humble enough to repent with genuine sorrow when shown his guilt (Psalm 51). With confidence and humility, King David became the greatest leader of the nation of Israel.

On the other hand, David's grandson exhibited the unattractive qualities of insecurity and pride. Facing the challenge of governing a population seeking relief from oppressive government policies, King Rehoboam felt threatened. In his proud desire to outdo his father, Rehoboam promised to be even more oppressive (1 Kings 12). In his insecurity and pride, King Rehoboam destroyed the united kingdom of Israel and became one of the greatest failures in the nation's history.

In the church, God wants leaders of humility. "(The overseer) must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same condemnation as the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6). Hopefully, godly men grow increasingly humble as they face the challenges of living by faith and raising a family.

At the same time, God wants leaders with confidence. An elder of the church must be confident enough to "refute those who oppose (sound doctrine)" (Titus 1:9). He must not be so insecure that he will passively allow others under his care to be harmed.

May God continue to provide his church with confident and humble leaders.

Monday, October 06, 2008

You Leave What You Live

Nearly a year and a half ago, Janet and I attended FamilyLife's A Weekend to Remember marriage conference, one of the highlights of our marriage. During the conference, we purchased a number of books. I have been reading through one of them lately, Rocking the Roles by Robert Lewis and William Hendricks. I would like to share a powerful section of the book:

"Remember Lot in Genesis 19? The New Testament describes Lot as 'righteous,' meaning he was a God-fearer, a believer. But Lot also was a man whose life contradicted his belief. He compromised himself for prosperity around Sodom and Gomorrah, despite the wickedness that filled those towns. He moved his family there, and before long they were living the same evil lifestyle. One day two angels appeared to Lot, saying that God was about to destroy those cities. Immediately Lot went to warn his family. Perhaps for the first time in his life, he sought to exercise some real spiritual leadership (Genesis 19:14, emphasis added):

"'Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law...and said, 'Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.' But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.'

"Imagine this, if you will. In the moment of crisis, Lot was desperately trying to save his family. No doubt he used religious words such as sin, judgment, and evil. But Lot's spiritual credibility was already shot. So much so that his children dismissed him as playing a joke. 'Come on, Dad! God condemn us? Stop kidding. We haven't done anything wrong. What's wrong? What's right? Very funny, Dad!'

"Why did Lot receive this response? Because of the great gulf between his beliefs and his lifestyle.

"You will leave in your children what you have lived out in your home. You can leave a gift or a joke. Certainly, it depends on what you teach, but even more on how you live...

"What example are you showing your kids that will gift their marriages twenty years from now? Will they be advantaged because of the legacy you have left? Will your sons be servant-leaders to their wives? Will they be able to pass on a godly heritage to their children--your grandchildren? Will your daughters know how to love their husbands and their children? Will they be able to nurture them as only a woman can?

"You see, this is the most significant legacy you'll leave on this planet. What you leave in your estate, what you accomplish in your career, what you do for your community, even the help you give to your church--none of these will have quite as powerful an impact, or make a more poignant statement about your own character, as the children you send out into the world. And before you go, nothing will compare with the satisfaction of watching your children live out that legacy, if it's a good one" (pp. 213-215).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Black Man's Dilemma

World Magazine, my favorite news magazine, has a good article about Clenard Childress, a black Baptist pastor in New Jersey who has incorporated pro-life convictions into his advocacy of social justice.

According to the article, "Today, hundreds of thousands of black babies are aborted each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost one in every two African-American pregnancies ends in abortion. According to the Allen Guttmacher Institute, African-American women are nearly five times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to have an abortion."

Whenever I read such statistics, I'm thankful to God for the courage of Christopher's birthmother. She mentioned to us at the hospital that she was making an unpopular decision.

The article may be read at

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dad, When Will I be a Man?

"...act like men, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13, New American Standard Bible).

This afternoon, Christopher and I were walking the dog. Suddenly, Christopher asked, "Dad, when will I be a man?" Without thinking, I answered, "In about 15 years, I hope."

Realizing that my son had presented me with a great teaching moment, I asked, "Do you know what you will need to do to become a man?" He asked, "What?"

"Well, you will need to be responsible," I said. "Do you know what responsibility is?"

"No," Christopher answered.

"It's doing what you're supposed to do," I responded. "When you feed Bat Dog, you're learning responsibility. You're doing what you're supposed to do for something that depends on you."

I continued, "Being a man also means that you take initiative. Do you know what that means?"

"No," Christopher said, with a little curiosity.

"That means: when you see a problem, you try to solve it without being asked. When you see your books scattered all over the living room, you could take the initiative by picking them up. If you see a kid at school who is upset, you could take the initiative and go see whether you can help him."

"I've never done that before," Christopher remarked.

I smiled and said, "Well, that would be good practice for when you become a man."

Streams of Tears

"Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed" (Psalm 119:136).

Observing sin can be heart-breaking. I see the temptation, but in my better moments, I see the pain that accompanies sin. I see...

*the unnecessary divorce that will damage the couple and their children
*the couple living together who will never feel secure with each other because they do not trust each other enough to get married
*the homosexual who suffers from depression and HIV
*the resentful and envious woman who cannot enjoy a healthy relationship with family and would-be friends
*the angry man who can not gain the respect of his wife and children because of his volatility
*the drunkard and drug addict who cannot keep a steady job
*the self-righteous man who finds it easy to condemn, difficult to help, and impossible for others to be around
*the self-centered man whose funeral will be a relief to those closest to him

The world is full of the pain of our own choices. The best of us have not lived up to God's ideal for ourselves. We have acted in self-destructive ways. We have hurt each other and ourselves in too many ways to count.

The good news is that God has never been satisfied with our condition. He has been hurting with us and for us. He has been working through His Son who was willing to die to save us from our sins and their consequences. As the apostle Paul wrote, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:3-7).