Monday, February 27, 2006

You had me at "Hello"

Last night concluded the last of our presentations on ethnic diversity and church desegregation. In the first lecture, primarily dealing with the history of how things came to be, I referenced the SBC's repentant apology of 1995. I only gave a quick synopsis of it, but I got the impression that (a) this was big news to many and (b) this information should be widely spread.

So, while the SBC annual conventions had made statements of a contrite nature against & about racism (e.g., 1978 in Atlanta and 1989 in Las Vegas), new ground was broken in Atlanta in 1995 with regard to racial reconciliation with a denominational apology, asking forgiveness for past sin(s) in this area.

RESOLUTION ON RACIAL RECONCILIATION ON THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

WHEREAS, Since its founding in 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention has been an effective instrument of God in missions, evangelism, and social ministry; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures teach that Eve is the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20), and that God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him (Acts 10:34-35), and that God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth (Acts 17:26); and

WHEREAS, Our relationship to African-Americans has been hindered from the beginning by the role that slavery played in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention; and

WHEREAS, Many of our Southern Baptist forbears defended the right to own slaves, and either participated in, supported, or acquiesced in the particularly inhumane nature of American slavery; and

WHEREAS, In later years Southern Baptists failed, in many cases, to support, and in some cases opposed, legitimate initiatives to secure the civil rights of African-Americans; and

WHEREAS, Racism has led to discrimination, oppression, injustice, and violence, both in the Civil War and throughout the history of our nation; and

WHEREAS, Racism has divided the body of Christ and Southern Baptists in particular, and separated us from our African-American brothers and sisters; and

WHEREAS, Many of our congregations have intentionally and/or unintentionally excluded African-Americans from worship, membership, and leadership; and

WHEREAS, Racism profoundly distorts our understanding of Christian morality, leading some Southern Baptists to believe that racial prejudice and discrimination are compatible with the Gospel; and

WHEREAS, Jesus performed the ministry of reconciliation to restore sinners to a right relationship with the Heavenly Father, and to establish right relations among all human beings, especially within the family of faith.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Sesquicentennial meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm the Bibles teaching that every human life is sacred, and is of equal and immeasurable worth, made in Gods image, regardless of race or ethnicity (Genesis 1:27), and that, with respect to salvation through Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the racism which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to be doers of the Word (James 1:22) by pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:6), to the end that our light would so shine before others, that they may see (our) good works and glorify (our) Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16); and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we pledge our commitment to the Great Commission task of making disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19), confessing that in the church God is calling together one people from every tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9), and proclaiming that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only certain and sufficient ground upon which redeemed persons will stand together in restored family union as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). [Atlanta, GA; June, 1995]


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Editorial Note: It's been suggested that progress has been made here, but there is bigotry on our part toward those with the gay lifestyle.

My response to such would be ... Though I don't think we've quite got racial diversity reconciled, it was definitely a step in the right direction.

However, I'm not convinced those of an alternate lifestyle are born that way. But, that's somewhat of a moot discussion in my mind since I am convinced that all of humanity are born sinners, with various sinful tendencies that are to be stifled. Now, as you might imagine, I can't see that happening apart from divine grace.

In other words, all humans have inclinations that must be stifled before manifested as behavior. Homosexual activity is one in the category of sinful behavior.

Plus, be advised that there are some who are not on board with putting homosexual activity under the umbrella of civil rights.

The distinction is made between behavior, which one can control, and skin color, which, of course, one cannot.

For example, scope out the following link, a few quotes from which follow.
McKissic: Homosexual rights not the same as civil rights

“When homosexuals have spent over 200 years in slavery, when homosexuals have been legally defined as three-fifths human, when homosexuals have been denied the right to vote and own property because they are homosexuals, then we can begin a discussion of parallels [between the civil rights and gay rights movements],” McKissic said Oct. 13 at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

“[T]o equate civil rights with gay rights is to compare my skin with their sin.”

“At the dawn of this new millennium, the church of the living God cannot allow the gay rights movement to hitch itself to the civil rights movement without putting up a fight,” the pastor said. “We must not allow the gay rights movement to persuade this nation to approve of their sin under the banner of civil rights.”

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Boy, that escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast!

So I'm sitting there in the Murphy McDonald's in the play area as the little people play. Looking through the window I noticed a car hit the brakes in the left-turn lane (going west), but I also noticed that the SUV behind did not notice the braking ... nor did the following truck. Consequently, three-car pile up.

I thought, uncool ... wreck in the rain. Nobody wins.

Well, as I noted the stark contrast between motorists beaten down with trying to resolve their soggy situation and the carefree children ... I also noted the arrival of others on the scene, Murphy officials: 2 police cars, a fire engine, an ambulance, and another city vehicle.

They were able to join in the aquatic adventure. Some were inspecting vehicles, some were interviewing motorists, some were directing traffic and all probably wished they were somewhere else--as did the motorists who were delayed getting through the intersection.

Fortunately, the ambulance was not needed, but the whole event drove home to me the following:
  • Much as we hate it, nobody is an island. One's afternoon (and trips to the body shop for others) can be very easily derailed by another motorist. One person not seeing/anticipating another's deceleration can lead to over a dozen people being wetter than usual.
  • The sovereign hand of God protects us from so much more than we realize. There could be a lot more wrecks out there today than will occur, merely by His (common) grace.
  • Even miserable circumstances are beneficial for others. Events such as these help employ paramedics, insurance companies, body shops, tow trucks, etc.
  • Misery can soon escalate quickly. One moment everyone was happily moving along through the intersection and in just a few minutes hardly anyone was getting through (in part due to the rubber-neckers going east) and many were getting wet.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

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I've had this idea kicking around in my head since I preached a message on stewardship with regard to time. Recently, I was encouraged to put it down "on paper" somewhere.

We're all well acquainted with tithing, which for simplicity's sake I'll define as the biblical obligation to give back 10% of your financial income to God via the local church. (I realize that not everybody agrees with all facets of this definition, but let it ride for the moment because this is not a blog entry about financial tithing.)

Now, what about tithing of one's time?

There are 168 hours in the week, a tithe (i.e., tenth) of which would be 16.8.

However, if we allow for sleep time to come right off the top (parallel to a net vs. gross tither, although I'm a gross proponent), then that number would become less. What's a reasonable amount of sleep time? Surely no one would argue they want/need more than 8 hours per night. Amen?

Well that would 56 hours from the 168 which would be 112, a tithe of which would be 11.2.

In other words, for simplicity's sake, a Christian tithing of his/her time would set aside about 11 hours per week for the local church.

Now, what might qualify? Certainly attendance at gatherings where one's presence is needed would (Heb 10:24-25). So, let's say a person was joined the saints at 0930 for donuts & fellowship through about 1230 when it's all said and done. That's 3 hours. Coming back for Sunday night would be another 1.5 hours. If you allow drive time to count, then you're adding some, obviously.

However, it would seem to me that a Christian would/should give more time to the church than that ... even just to meet such a minimum requirement. This could be in the form of preparation if one is a teacher, or even in a class where preparation is expected. This is where involvement in a discipleship program or some ministry of the church helps (e.g., giving a few hours per month to be a part of a church custodial program). What about time spent in accountability and/or fellowship with other church members? Surely that benefits the body. What about time spent during the week specifically praying for the church, its ministries and people in it?

I said all that to say this, these are just thoughts running through my mind. However, just as the question is often asked about what a local church would be able to do ministry-wise if God's people tithed, we might ask just how much a local church would be able to do ministry-wise if God's people tithed of their time as well (i.e., not in lieu of finances).

I realize that God doesn't need our money or our time or us, but those are the vehicles He's chosen to use to accomplish His work in His way for His glory.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You dont need a patch on your arm to have honor.

Troy Aikman and Rayfield Wright were accepted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2/4). I was pleased, though disappointed for Michael Irvin, though I'm confident he's got a good shot.

For a Cowboy fan this is/was huge because there is arguably an anti-Cowboy bias out there with regard to the HOF. To put it in perspective, prior to this year's class, there were five (5) Cowboys players in the HOF. From over 45 years of playing in the NFL, going to more Superbowls than anyone else (8), being tied for the most SB wins (5), and stringing together great years of success, only five players?!

The theory is that the Cowboys are the team that everybody loves to hate, particularly after Tex Schramm got them dubbed as "America's Team" in the 1970s.

Cowboys that should be in the Hall of Fame based on their football performance:

The above mentioned stack up statistically and in just about every other way to those already in and there are some inducted who pale in comparison.

The HOF finally came around on the great slight of Rayfield Wright, but there is still much injustice yet to be rectified. Yet, doing a few a year they could make things right before too long. However, you don't need a patch on your arm or your bust in Canton to have honor. These men played with it whenever they put the helmet on and for that the NFL is better.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

It's made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good.

I'm often asked about a referring a Reformed church. The following are some nice lists of Reformed churches that such friends might be directed to.

The lists typically explain the qualifying factors, so you know why they are listed as such. Not all are Baptist and I don't necessarily endorse any of the churches listed, but I may be able to offer some insight regarding some of them. As always, viewer discretion is advised.
P.S. Let me know if there are other such lists that might be helpful.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a jelly donut?!

A little rant for your viewing pleasure.

Gut essen!

King Pin made a comment in another venue about pizza buffets and their sneakiness. The name of the place in question will remain nameless to protect the guilty, but he exposed the "all we are putting out now is gross combo to try and get rid of you" trick.

I fancy myself as a buffet strategist, in general, and a pizza buffet strategist, in particular. So, let me opine.

King Pin has exposed a classic pizza buffet trick, put out the cag pizza so it can sit there and hog space so you don't have to put out the good stuff. This way people will will get filled up on filler (e.g., breadsticks, salad, etc.) or eat the less expensive pizza.

From my storied past as a cook/delivery driver par excellence of Pizza Inn I learned that the meat toppings are the most expensive for them, so places tend to have at least a few "supreme" or "veggie" pizzas on the buffet to stall. But, they know almost all kids can/will eat cheese pizza and (almost) everyone likes pepperoni. So, it shocks me whenever I see the buffet and there's not a standing one of each of those.

There's sooo much "trick it up pizza" at times. What's with the pepperoni & jalapeño or the Canadian bacon & pineapple? Now, don't get me wrong, I understand the need for a little variety and that people might like that. However, people need to take into account the lowest common denominator principle. For example, a person who likes pepperoni & jalapeño will also like/eat pepperoni. However, the pepperoni lover may not want a pizza contaminated with jalapeño juice (anticipating the "just take it off" comments), likewise with pineapple juice.

I got no problem with some slooge pizza for variety, but that should only be the case when you have a good range of "popular pizza" from which to choose.

When I walk up to a buffet and see only supreme, hamburger & onion, veggie pizza, chicken slooge pizza, pepperoni & jalapeño, and some cag pizza I'm not even able to identify, I have to wonder (a) do they not understand human pizza eating patterns or (b) are they trying to beat us down to consume filler or motivate us to move on or get filled up on drink or what?!
There's another trick which is related to the "slooge pizza" trick, which is the stall tactic. Here they just wait you out so you get impatient and go home. Incidentally, this is a particularly popular trick where it's an "all you can eat" where they bring you the food, but others at the table may have something else (i.e., not all you can eat). Here, they make you out to be the bad Ag because you're holding up everyone else who wants to go because they're all done with their meals (especially when kids are involved) and you're just now finishing your second round of all you can eat catfish. How many of you know what I'm talkin' about?

In such a scenario, order your next round of whatever as soon as each round comes. Don't be concerned about the "What's up with this weirdo?" look you get from the server. That's just how they play the game, one of their intimidation tactics. The greatest example of poetry in motion with regard to an all you can eat was when I went with my Los Guys to Texas Land & Cattle for the Monday night all you can eat smoked sirloin. We hit it ... hard. Round after round we goes, where we'll stop ... nobody knows.

Okay, back to pizza; here are some practical suggestions.

Pizza Buffet Pointers (i.e., to get money's worth, not to minimize weight gain):
  • Avoid the carbonated beverage (fills you up, leaving less room for pizza; if a drink is included in the price, go with tea).
  • Avoid the dessert pizza (e.g., the jelly donut pizza, etc.; get a piece for the road if you must, but minimize room that could be filled with the real stuff).
  • Minimize the pepperoni rolls type slooge (sooo much bread=sooo filling).
  • Minimize the slooge pizza, majoring in the meats instead.
  • Don't be afraid/shy to ask for a specific type of pizza on the buffet (most places happily accommodate and appreciate hearing what folks might want).
  • Get there earlier, rather than later (I like to have the family set up at the table ready to roll with drinks in hand with the buffet starts at 1700 hours).
  • Sigh heavily when those in front of you in line waffle around trying to get a piece of pizza so they will quickly move on rather than take that last piece of meat lovers you have your eye on.
  • Help unsupervised kids (this is the Christian thing to do, but also speeds them up and keeps them from dumping their plates or getting sloogey paws on the community pizza spatula or otherwise derailing the process).
  • Speaking of kids, give up any hope of your 5 year old daugther getting her money's worth (life will be easier if you early on realize she just wants to get some carrots from the salad bar and pester you for a quarter to get a gumball, while she chomps on the occassional cracker).
  • Don't be in a hurry, remember pizza buffet is not a 50-yard dash, but a marathon (as such, it's not as important how you start as how you finish).
  • Try to keep your used plates (these are your "victories" and can be used for comparison purposes to show Oilcan that you still own him).
  • Try to go with eaters, rather than talkers (you want someone who will competitively encourage you on toward love and good deeds; cf. Heb 10:24).
  • Have fun and gratefully enjoy God's common grace as it is delivered in the form of a pizza (cf. James 1:17).
  • Avoid, or at least minimize, the crust (again, filler and of the highest order; if you must consume, do so with some sort of dipping sauce to ease its passage to prepare for more pizza to come).
  • Lastly, if you're part of an accountability program (weight, exercise, etc.) then I suggest you NOT do pizza buffet for the prior meal (the optimal time for such would be as a (albeit counterproductive) reward).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Brian & Gunny Go to White Castle

Brian Hough and I went to White Castle last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We braved the cold weather and a 1.7 miles walk each way to partake Monday and Tuesday. That was a total of 6.8 miles, if you're keeping score at home.

However, we also attended the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, put on by Desiring God Ministries and Bethlehem Baptist Church, pastored by John Piper. The conference was great and I thought Michael Campbell, pastor of Redeemer Church, stole the show with his message entitled, Sacrificing Self - The Multi-ethnic Church and the Mandate of the Gospel.

Incidentally, we didn't get Dr. Piper to go with us to White Castle, but we did get our picture with him. Of us, he's clearly the most photogenic. Amen?

P.S. Don't tell, because it's a suprise, but guess where I'm taking my wife for Valentine's Day? Though the ambiance is suspect (Brian was convinced we would surely be killed by "headphones guy"), it was a culinary delight!

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society

As the body of Coretta Scott King lays in honor in the rotunda of the capital of Georgia, I thought it befitting to resurrect the dream that was expressed by her husband. Our nation is better because of their efforts to confront evil expressed in racial segregation.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 1965, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

An excerpt of the speech follows:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I share the sentiment of his dream, but particularly long to see it in Christ's churches. Christ's death bought a group consisting of every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev. 5:9). We are all His, all reconciled to God and to each other through Christ. I pray we see racial harmony on earth, as I know we'll see in heaven.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Not tomorrow, not after breakfast -- NOW!

I have an article that appears in the Wylie News and the Murphy Monitor this week dealing with ethnic diversity in churches. I find it somewhat providential that my article leads off with a reference to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and appeared at newstands on 1/31, after his widow had passed away just the night before.

Of course the only reason I was able to submit an article was because my friend, Rev. Dr. Mark Forrest, pastor of Murphy Road Baptist Church, was having computer demons he could not exercise in time to submit his article. I happened to have time Friday afternoon to compile some thoughts.

The article is merely a road marker for me on this issue as my heart becomes more and more burdened to see churches that reflect the demograpic make up of their communities. I don't think this can or should wait. The reality of reconciliation to each due to reconciliation to God in Christ should be seen among the races-not tomorrow, not after breakfast--NOW!

This is an issue that will not go away anytime soon, especially for me, since I'm doing a presentation on this subject at the 6th International Conference on Diversity in Organisations, Communities, and Nations in New Orleans this summer.

I hope to start some dialogue in our church, in particular, and within the body of Christ, in general, about why and how churches should be desegregated. Oddly enough, I will be dealing with those in the secular world at this conference who seem to be much more concerned about this topic that the body of Christ. To our shame, there may be much we need to learn from them about valuing diverse relationships before we can effectively teach them about the divine relationship.

The content of the article follows:


Leading the Way or Dragging Our Feet?

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once noted/lamented that Sunday morning was the most segregated time in America. Those words still ring true. But why? This summer I’m doing a presentation on this topic at a (secular) diversity conference. I intend to ask and answer why churches are dragging their feet in the area of desegregation.

Why are our churches are lagging far behind in the area of ethnic diversity (in comparison with education, employment, entertainment, sports, etc.)? Why have churches not progressed in this area when so many other institutions have made, at least official, strides?

I fear the reason is that diversity (particularly ethnic) needs to be valued, but it is not.

Scripture teaches us that the church is comprised of those the Lamb ransomed with His blood, a group consisting of every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9) Within the body of Christ, God has indeed redeemed His church from among each and every socio-economic status, language, people group, race, and ethnicity. Those who are born again to believe in Christ are redeemed and are all equally children of God and equal in Christ, for they are all heirs. (John 1:12-13; Galatians 3:26-29)

But, there are practices in churches that are counterproductive to diversity. These should cease, and there are practices which need to be implemented. We need to ask and answer how diversity efforts can/should be similar to those in other institutions and how/why they may be different.

If Christianity is to be true to its biblical roots, it should actually be leading the way. Churches should reflect racial harmony and congregations that ethnically represent their community.

Recently, I submitted to the leadership of our church part of my vision for racial harmony & diversity in our church: Contrary to the history of the American church and contrary to the contemporary mindset of many churches in our land, we will follow God's leading in demonstrating love across racial boundaries by striving for a congregation that better reflects the demographic make up of our community as a testimony to God's love for all people and as a testimony to the world of the transforming power of God's love to unite across racial boundaries so that, ultimately, God will be glorified.

What's your vision for desegregation of the church? What can you do to help lead the way?

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