Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eve Was Not An Afterthought

Adam was first, but Eve was not an afterthought.

"Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'" ~ Genesis 2:18

Creation was not complete until she was formed. Male is not complete without female. Male plus male does not make one whole, nor does female plus female make one whole. And, it is clear that this was not just in the procreative process, because when the male saw the female he recognized her as his unique companion; one who would complete him.

"And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.' Therefore man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh." ~ Genesis 2:22-24

Whether he realized that she completed God's creative plan is unclear, but she and he together were the crown of creation. This companionship is the foundation God laid for human society. As a man leaves his family of origin and marries his wife and they form a new family, human society grows. No human society has ever survived that violated this order.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Adam Was First

The first human created was male.

"...then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." ~ Genesis 2:7

Some believe that the creation account is only poetic, but it is clear that the first Christians believed it to be literal.

"Thus it is written, The First man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. . . The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven." ~ 1 Corinthians 14:45, 47

It meant responsibility (it was the male who was first told to tend the garden before the female was created).

It meant authority, "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercize authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve;" ~ 1 Timothy 2:11-13a

It meant accountability, for, while the female bore the responsibility of being deceived, it was male who God called to first after their sin, "But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" (Gen. 3:9)

It was the male, not the female, through which sin entered our race and marred our character, and it is through the male that salvation has come to humanity, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22)

Some Thoughts About Men & Women

Al Mohler recently wrote an article entitled, "The End Of Men?", that you can see by clicking on the title of that article. It raised some interesting thoughts and questions for me.

The maturing of my children, especially my first born who is a daughter and who is a spiritual leader, makes my theology of men and women in life and in church much more personal. The massive changes in society, not just here in this country but around the world, mean that what we once held as "given" truths are no longer accepted as such. That is the way much of our lives is today.

We were once able to "coast" spiritually, Biblically, and theologically because our society was much more homogenous and essentially in agreement with basic Biblical norms. No one can possibly believe it is still. We are no longer insulated by being in the south, or attending an "evangelical" church.

We must believe what God teaches and we must know why we believe it and we must communicate that to our children, our churches, and our communities. If not, we will be led wherever the world is headed, and, according to the Bible, this world system is headed straight to Hell. So, beginning tomorrow, I'll begin writing some simple observations about what the Bible says about men and women.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

At some point, the only answer a follower of Christ can give is, "No." Are you ready to give it?

When Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching about Jesus, that's what they said. "For we cannot help but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

What will you do when they tell you to stop talking about Jesus? It happens every day, even here in this country of religious freedom. Don't forget that the land of the free is also the home of the brave, and thousands of Christians each year bravely say "no". They bravely say it because it costs them. It costs them their careers, their friends, their status, and sometimes even their marriages and families.

But, before you charge off into the darkness with a torch and a cross, bring the focus in a bit. Every one of us who follows Christ faces the "no" dilemma every day. It's not the world to which we have to say "no", but our selfs, our flesh, our desires. The moment you follow Christ, you will begin to say "no" to self and "yes" to Him.

Before you steel yourself for the onslaught of Jesus-haters, you must say "no" to the one in you. Fill your heart and mind with Christ so that you will be able to say "no" to the lust of the your flesh, the lust of the your eyes, and the pride of your life. Lose this battle, and you will win no other. Fight it and Christ will create bravery, tempered with humility, in you and you will be able to stand and say "No!" to the world while you say "Yes!" to Christ.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm Done

It's funny how most temptations seem to effect the young. There is one, though, to which older Christians seem more susceptible. As a matter of fact, the very things we admire in people (faithfulness, sacrifice, and service) are the conditions that make this temptation possible.

It is a particularly ugly temptation. It does not draw us like the lust of the flesh or the lust of the eyes. It falls into the third category of sin, the pride of life. It is a pitiful, self-focused, and resentful temptation that lures us into the pit of smallness. Its victims are the hard-working Christians, the long-suffering spouses, the underpaid employees, the ones willing to do it "when no one else will." When this temptation sees those people, it sharpens its claws and licks its fangs.

Those who fall into this pit lose marriages and ministries. They sacrifice the prize that is set before them, tossing out a 30 year marriage because their spouse didn't appreciate them, quitting a 25 year pastorate because the church didn't honor them as it should, giving up the children's Sunday School class because parents just didn't appreciate what they did, sitting at home and skulking because the last time they helped in VBS, cleaned out a classroom, or worked the work day no one seemed appreciative enough. It's amazing how this temptation can lead you to walk away from a job just 2 years shy of full retirement.

These are the things you hear from the once-faithful-ones who have fallen into this pit; "Let's see how well they do without me down at that shop." "Let's see if they can find someone else who worked as hard as me." "Just see if they can find anyone else up there at that church to do that job." "See if she can find a husband who worked as hard as I did." "Forget it, I volunteered teh last time and no said so much as a thank you."

May we revel in the approval of God when man forgets us and our service. May we work till Jesus comes, not till we get fed up with it all. May we never prove ourselves small by refusing to serve God, church, spouse or community again because we were not appreciated the last time. May we make ourselves small in this world, becoming the servant of all, so that our God will have reason to make us great in His kingdom to come.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm Good

"I'm as good as any of those people up there in your church, preacher." He had been a generous man all of his life, and didn't like it when anyone told him he needed a Savior to save him from his sin. Could it be that the greatest enemy of salvation is a man's belief in his own goodness? Is it possible to convince someone of their need for a Savior if they are convinced they are already good enough? Maybe that's one reason Jesus gave such a strange response when a young man called him good, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." (Mk 10:18)

I believe a friend of mine who is the early stages of Alzheimers has been sent to remind me that the only goodness in me, or about me, or around me is the goodness of God. Every Sunday he asks me, "How are you?" To which I usually reply, "Pretty good." And, to which he answers, "That's not what Scripture says. Scripture says there is only One good." He is right.

None of us is really good. The only goodness we have is placed in us, done through us, made possible only by our faith in Christ and His Spirit in us. Whenever we think we're good, we are really missing the boat, and a chronic belief that we are good may indicate we aren't even on the boat. In short, the only One who is good is God, and the only goodness we will ever have is a gift from Him to all those who are born again by faith in Christ.

This isn't some sort of spiritual self-degradation or self-abuse. This is the reality that sets us free. We need to hold onto the fact that all our goodness is filthy compared to Him. When we do get it, thankfulness fills our hearts and lives and we begin to live a life of worship and witness that calls attention to the goodness of God.

It's Personal

As I drove down a country lane, I noticed that house after house had flags with single initials hanging from pine trees, poles, and porches. Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but I quickly ascertained that the people living in those houses had last names beginning with those letters and that those houses were all estates. Why, you ask? Because those flags are called "Monogrammed Estate Flags."

I told my wife that the moment we get an estate, we must have one of those flags. However, I am not going to get a "C" flag, even though that is the first initial of my first and last names. I am going to get a "Z" flag instead. I just like the way the "Z" looks. Besides, "C's" are much too common. It will be a much greater challenge for people to figure out our last name if we put up a "Z" flag.

Have you noticed how we manage our privacy? We refuse to give out some information about our lives, while freely broadcasting other information. How we manage our privacy, how we "spin" our sin, says much about how we are currently related to God. Think about it.

"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." (John 3:19-21)

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Joy Of Knowing

The teen was excited to tell her pastor about the encounter. Two Mormons had begun to witness to her, questioning her faith. She used the truths she had learned and began to question theirs. In the end, they admitted they had no answer. She was not excited that she had somehow shut them down or bested them. She was excited to share the truth about the real Jesus. She was excited because she wasn't just a Christians, she knew why and she could give an answer for her faith.

Another younger teen called his pastor about another encounter. This time Jehovah's Witnesses had come to his home when his parents were at work. While I cautioned him against opening the door to people when his parents were away, I was excited to hear that he had given an answer for his faith from Scripture. He was excited that not only did he know Jesus, but he could present him to people who did not know him. He then said, "I need to learn more about what they believe so that I can show them what Scripture really says. Cause they aren't going to heaven."

A man told his pastor about an encounter he had with a person who had questions about the goodness of God. This man not only gave testimony about how faithful God had been to him, but also knew the Scriptures that supported his faith and his testimony. He was excited to give an answer. I have watched this man for years. Almost every time he has a spare moment, he is adding to his faith the knowledge of the Scripture.

It is my privilege to be the pastor of those teenagers and that man. It is a joy to see them excited because they have an answer. They know that there is no bliss in ignorance, but there is great joy in knowing God and God's answers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Bliss-less-ness Of Ignorance

The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is thin, shallow and unsweetened. Most Christians cannot clearly explain the gospel of Jesus Christ, much less tell anyone why they believe what they believe about the rest of life. By and large, we cannot give an answer for our faith. And, apparently, we are living with a myth that is producing a nation of shallow believers. No one really enjoys a shallow person.

Only a few seem to care about giving an answer? You may be one of the few, the proud, the disciples who do, but you are few. Most have adopted a Christianized moral relativism. It goes something like this. They know what they believe. They encounter someone who doesn't believe like they do. They have a discussion. They have no proof for what they believe, even though they know the other person must be wrong because their preacher or Sunday School teacher said so. But, since they cannot prove what they believe, they just "agree to disagree." Practically, they are moral relativists, "Each person decides what is right for them. There are no absolute truths."

They say ignorance is bliss. It is not. For the believer, it is embarrassing, an admission that we have failed to be a true disciple of Christ. It is also an invitation - an invitation to fight ignorance with the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ found in the Word.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nostalgia In The Hands Of The Ancient Of Days

I have always loved music, and so I appreciate satellite radio. I enjoy channel surfing through all the genres and decade selections of music. That's what I was doing, and I was doing it with one of my favorite people to do it with; my 13 year old son.

My daughter is 17. She and I share a taste for many artists; Nora Jones, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and lots of contemporary Christian artists. But, she is not willing to tolerate my nostalgic tastes. Often, I irritate her with Elvis, Willie, Lynard and Led Zeppelin. I am fairly certain that is why her younger brother tolerates my "riding down the road while blaring Willie out the rolled down windows," not because he likes the music, but because it irritates her.

I think she enjoys the irritation, because it allows her to vent her female frustration at the childishness of the men in her life. These are good lessons for her, good training for her since most of us with male gender truly enjoy the latent boy within us. In other words, boys never really grow up and I'm helping her understand this.

Back to the purpose of this blog. I was in West Texas for the 30th reunion of the graduation of the class of 1980 from Knox City-O'brien High School. I was driving down the road with my 13 year old son next to me on a road I had travelled since childhood often sitting next to my father driving his truck. I was headed to lunch to see some old friends. I write all this to make this simple point. I was in full nostalgia mode.

While I drove, and listened, and remembered, we found Don Williams on the radio. I'm not a big Don Williams fan, but when I heard the smooth, baritone voice of this Floydada, Texas native, I was transported to other places and other times.

That's what happened that day. Don sang and I travelled back to my college days and a friend who is always in my thoughts, Phil, my college roommate who had a Don Williams album we used to "mellow out," to. Don sang and I was transported even further back to my childhood as my hand wind-surfed out the open window of Daddy's old avocado green Chevy pickup on a hot, dry, fall afternoon making our way to the country to hunt dove, or fish in Barney Arnold's ponds on the other side of the river. I looked over at my son in the vehicle next to me and poinently remembered my own childhood, and crazy as it sounds, God spoke, and I saw nostalgia as a tool in the hand of God. He was working in me through that experience, the memories, bringing joy, and healing, and transformation. And, above all, He reminded me that He is sovereign, in control, ancient, unshaken by my temporary setback, unimpressed by my temporary gains, and unchanging in His devotion to creating the image of His Son in me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Busy As A Caterpillar?

I have recenly become a fan of John Wooden, the deceased head basketball coach at UCLA. This Christian family man was one of the most successful coaches of all time, and I am amazed that I have not come in contact with him before now. Granted, I am not a basketball fan at all, but this guy has incredible wisdom, and he hit a Home Run (or I guess I should say, a three-pointer) with his statement, "Never mistake activity for achievement."

Bees are busy because each of them is doing exactly what they need to do for the hive to survive. We admire them so much that the saying, "busy as a bee," is used to praise someone who is not lazy.

Why don't we say, "busy as a caterpillar?" Well, caterpillars don't look busy, but they are. From the moment they hatch they eat and grow. Some, like the tobacco hornworm, eat so much they increase their weight 10,000% in just 20 days. And, even when they are in the pupal stage looking completely inactive, they are going through a metamorphosis that will transform them from a leaf-munching worm into a beautiful flying insect that defies gravity. We don't think they're being productive, because they don't look busy.

Most people think they are being productive if they are being busy. I know men and women who cannot sit still, even to spend time with God. A farmer-rancher I used to preach to in Texas was so busy that he kept time at church. At 11:55 a.m. he would ceremonially lift his wristwatch to his face and tap the dial to make sure I knew that time was almost up. Then at 12 noon, regardless of what was going on, he would get up and walk out to go and tend to his busy-ness.

Most churches think that being busy is good and that not being busy is, well, less than good. And, since the church is the people, most Christians feel the same way. We complain about how busy life is. We wax spiritual saying that our trouble is, "We are just too busy for God," talking about how busy our lives are outside of the church, when we may actually guage spirituality within the church by the standard of "busy is better."

The bottom line is that alot of us are like the cowboy in Texas. We don't give God much more than 1 hour a week. We can't sit still for a "quiet time." Quiet time is viewed as wasted time, and, besides, we simply cannot sit still. We think that life requires us to fill up 168 hours a week with activity. And, alot of us have transferred that workaholic attitude to our spritual lives. We will spend hundreds of hours doing "church" activities, hundreds working, hundreds doing family stuff, having convinced ourselves that activity is achievement. Never make that mistake. We must, regularly, be still in order to know that He is God.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

There's Nothing Like Being There

On May 1st, 1991, history was made. Nolan Ryan, the 44 years old pitcher for the Texas Rangers had warmed up poorly. The coaches were nervous, but called him out of the bullpen anyway. He took the mound that night and did for the 7th time what most MLB pitchers hope to do just once in their careers. He pitched a no-hitter. You can watch that whole game on video again and again, but if you were not there that night, you missed the experience and excitement of being in that stadium for that incredible event.

About three months ago I found out that my 30th high school class reunion was scheduled on the same weekened my associate pastor was scheduled to be out of town. If I went, it would mean that both of our pastoral staff would be out on the same Sunday. Given that he is also the worship leader, I was very hesitant to do that, but our elders were insistent that I go. "You need to go," they said. So, I scheduled it.

I am so glad they insisted and I am so glad that I did. Only 10 of our graduating class of 36 were there, but it was wonderful. I loved those people, and I still do. While we are planning another get together in the Fall for some who could not come, it will not be the same. There was only one night when this happened. If I had missed it, it would have been gone forever.

I think of that every time someone tells me they will be out next Sunday. I wonder, "What will they miss." I think of that when we schedule Bible studies, prayer times, VBS, mission trips . . . what will they miss? I can tell them what happened. I can share my excitement, but they were not there.

There is a myth that since God is a God of second chances, we don't have to worry about being there. We can "catch up," or there will be "another opportunity." A young man came to me Sunday and said, "I blew an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. I just wanted to confess that and say I'm not going to blow another." We think that just because church is always there, God is always there, our sons and daughters and spouses are always there, we will get another chance. It's just not true. Sometimes, you only get one shot.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wheat Harvest

My daughter's friend made the same comment about the country where I grew up that almost everyone does from Louisiana. "It's so ugly and dry," was her comment. After living all these years in the sub-tropical forest of Western Louisiana, I feel the same way when I go back to the land of my birth - the rolling plains of West Central Texas. I recognize the beauty, but compared to where I live, it is dry and often ugly. That opinion, that impression, however, is a myth. It is not true.

We just happened to travel back there this time during wheat harvest. To the untrained eye, the ripe wheat fields look dead. But, every farmer hopes his fields are dry so he can harvest his crop. And he knows, too, that the fields are not full of dead crops, but full of green. When quality is decent, and the price holds, Texas farmers make hundreds of millions of dollars from the seeds held in the dry tops of the wheat. What looks like dry, dead, stubble is actually a whole lot of green.

I went back to my home town, Knox City, a place I had avoided for several years; not because I had bad memories, but because I had good memories. You see, the town I remember was alive, full of thriving small businesses, families, friends, and hope, but the last time I saw it it looked as dry as the wheat fields do to our friends from Louisiana. I avoided Knox City, because to me it looked like it was dying and that broke my heart.

My home town is not dead. Farmers are still harvesting wheat, and businesses are opening, and they had a wet spring so things were green. More importantly, I saw the people again. Families with children. Community leaders still loving their home. Old friends raising children and grandchildren. While I was there I remembered something Jesus said, "Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white with harvest."

Too many of us in our country, in our communities, and in our churches see only dryness and ugliness. Too many of us in our marriages and our jobs see no hope. Too many of us who lead churches see laziness or resistance or death where God sees the potential for life. We desparately need to lift up our eyes.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 6th, 2010 - Louisiana Baptists, Day Of Prayer Concerning Oil Spill And Upcoming Hurrican Season

The current oil spill is not only causing harm to the coast, marsh lands, the gulf and the future of oil exploration but to the economic future of our state. Men have tried for weeks to stop the flow of oil and to date, all has failed. We need to call on God to stop the flow of oil now. Our God stopped the flow of water for Israel to cross the Red Sea and He can cease the flow of oil from this ruptured well.

The hurricane season is upon us and we need to pray that God will give us a calm year. Jeremiah 29:7 gives instruction to God's people at a time when they are facing crisis... "Seek the peace (Shalom - multifaceted well-being) of the city where I sent you... and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace you will have peace (well-being)."

Day Of Prayer - June 6, 2010

  • Pray for God's mercy in dealing with the spill and the hurricanes.

  • Pray for Spiritual Awakening to sweep across our nation.

  • Pray for our Churches and our Pastors to experience revival.

  • Pray for our Louisiana Baptist Convention and all our Institutions.

Pastors, churches, directors of missions, WMU leaders, prayer leaders and LBC employees, would you make June 6 a day to remember? A day when across all our state, churches join in one mighty voice to cry out to God for His intervention and revival. This could be the beginning of an awakening in Louisiana.

Thank you,

Dr. Bill Robertson, Director of Pastoral Leadership

Dr. David Hankins, Executive Director

Dr. Rod Mastellar, LBC President