Saturday, October 31, 2009


Greg has done a tremendous job with this. No, it's not perfect, but it's convicting, none the less.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Recently I blogged about the outrageous expenditure of $$$ for extravagant buildings, etc, at "Christian" colleges and seminaries, with an additional remark or two regarding the SBTS honor afforded Bible-denier and former seminary president Duke McCall. That was prompted by the arrival of that month's issue of the SBTS magazine.

Yesterday, my current issue arrived. Apparently it is designed as fodder for my rants....because this current issue celebrates the 15th anniversary of the "Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism" there on the Louisville campus. Billy Graham!....ain't that wonderful?

Yes, that naming did take place 15+ years ago, but.....even then, I had a pretty good idea where Billy Graham was coming from, so it's hard to believe that Al Mohler, Thom Rainer, et al, were duped like the large majority of churchdom which still views Graham as a reincarnation of the Apostle Paul.

So, two issues, two great bits of man-worship: one guy who as a theologian was a great politician, and one man who made decisional regeneration and ecumenism the American Standard. (I might excuse Mohler and the teaching staff at SBTS somewhat because I know they do not make these decisions. This is the stuff decided by dollars; whoever pays the piper calls the tune. What I rebuke them for is not standing against these "honors" publicly)

Anyway, in the spirit of the moment, I am privileged to announce some future plans for Honors at SBTS. Several other such events are in the works; I am privy to the "inside dope" and am going to give you a peek at these exciting developments right here, and now!

The next three events will honor some well-known public figures who are also Southern Baptist deacons and leaders. Here are the names and the Honor which is forthcoming:

BILL CLINTON: He will have a chair endowed in his honor: The William Jefferson Clinton Chair for Ethical Studies.

AL GORE: SBTS is adding a wing onto the Science Building to be named in Al's honor: The Gore Global Warming Wing.

JIMMY CARTER: Another endowed chair--this one The Jimmy Carter Chair for Studies in International Diplomacy and Terrorist Appeasement

I'm sure you will all agree that those 3 Southern Baptist gentlemen are every bit as deserving as the two previously discussed.

The Powers That Be have also decided, in the spirit of ecumenism, to honor someone from outside the SBC camp. The first recipient of such an honor will be:

ORAL ROBERTS. This pioneer in televangelism and mass-marketing of religion will be honored with a new building on campus:

The Oral Roberts Student Medical Center

(actually, this will not be a large building.....more of a kiosk or gazebo-type structure which contains a portrait of Roberts and an icon or relic, perhaps one of his sweat-stained hankies. Students who are ill can come into the kiosk, into the presence of the portrait, touch the relic, and be healed!)

I'm sure all of you are excited by these prospects as I am....and I'm sure there will be more such Honors down the road--just so the $$$ keep rolling in to support this Kingdom Work.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I once wrote on the subject of dispensationalism's loosening grip (on me) it's a similar thing, in a way. My two-year-old fascination with Facebook is fading, fast.

Not Facebook's fault, either. It is defined as a "social networking" enterprise. Fact is, I am not "social". The older I get, the more single-minded I am. There's not much I'm interested in.

The problem with that is, I think others should be the same way....that ain't working out too well. I have only 70-odd "friends" on Facebook. I cull that list continually in an effort for it to be meaningful, not just a collection of names. It is, more or less, a small group of folks with whom I have much in common......and those interests are theological and, for the most part, fall within a very narrow view of theology.

Despite my best efforts, these people still will not "do right"! I think I'd be better off not knowing that "preachers" and "pastors" can spend hours, even on the Lord's Day, posting play-by-play results from whatever the Game of the Day might be. A pastor can post a "status" comment about an athlete and have thirty or more responses within an hour and all sorts of interest and excitement is generated. Contrary-wise, one can post some reflection on spiritual matters and perhaps have a response from one or two readers.

Now, I'm not as stupid as this might make me sound. I know this is not new; I know it is not Facebook's fault. It's really just my problem. First, I'd like someplace to fellowship with fellow believers where the things of God are the primary focus. It's me who's trying to force Facebook into a box for which it was not designed.

Secondly, I know that it's me who finds this national obsession with sports to be a dismaying idolatry not acknowledged by most Christians--apparently because they're into it themselves. Compounding my most recent upset in this area is the fact that it was on Sunday. Of course, I have all kinds of problems there......I guess I'm almost a sabbatarian. I'm one of those guys who cannot "get it" why God gave Ten Commandments but only 9 of them mean anything today.

So, I get all bent out of shape when preachers and ministers, not to mention their flock, cannot wait to get away from the church building, the preaching, the fellowship of the saints, and settle down in front of the wide-screen on Sunday after Sunday to watch whatever sport is du jour. I mean the "whew!....glad that's let's play ball" is palpable in some circumstances.

Sabbatarianism aside, can we not, even those of us supposed "elders" and "pastors," give over completely to the things of God, one day out of seven? Maybe I am oversimplifying, but the Word says that which comes out of our mouth is born in our heart and reflects its state....and I find all these believers barely out of the building on Sunday all excited and carrying on about ball players and so forth, with an expenditure of energy rarely seen in Gospel endeavors. I had the temerity to tell one group that it was too bad that the Gospel was not so exciting as the subject of the sports discussion.....but was promptly informed by more than one that they had done their Gospel duty earlier in the day......Well, good to get that drudgery out of the way, I guess....then we can have a good time.

Oh, well. I'm just old and tired.....really sick of this world and the way it has utterly corrupted the "church" and most of its membership....especially saddened and discouraged to see that the leadership is just as bad, thus offering no hope for change. Maybe I'll turn on the tv and see if there's a game on......

(I could extend this rant and substitute "political raving" in place of's just as bad, just as distracting from the Gospel, and just as wasteful of the little time we have remaining......but I'll spare you for now)

Thursday, October 22, 2009


In a comment on my previous article, Brother Mike said "There seems to be a lack of "go do" in our churches today. At least there is on the local front.

Now if you call for a 'mission trip' to some country whose name is difficult to pronounce everyone seems to jump on board. Why? Because it's the trendy and popular thing to do."

This is an excellent example of the mind-set I am at war with. We have church members allowed to "fall through the cracks" right in front of our eyes because we can not or will not expend the effort because it's laborious, mundane, and (publicly) unrewarding. Fact is: our hearts simply are not in it.

But let come the announcement of that "mission trip" to Mexico, Costa Rica, Alaska, etc, and it's "Sign me up, brother! I want to reach people for the Lord!" (I know in advance that this is a real "rant arena" for me and I'm trying to stifle myself....a bit) Maybe some good comes of these things; I'll allow that I am probably not 100% right on this.......however, I am probably never going to be convinced that in most cases these things are not simply glorified vacations which serve further to assuage the consciences of church members who have never lifted a finger on the home front. Their neighbors are untold; their family is untold; their work associates are untold.....but they want to spend $6000. to go to Timbuktu for a week and "win souls"

And this can be extrapolated (with some loss of accuracy, I'm sure) to entire congregations which "Go For The Glory" They have elaborate, well-promoted, well-funded foreign missions programs. Most all this involves supporting financially men and women already on the field, around the world. The maps are up in the hallway and reports are received regularly. Missionaries on leave come by the "supporting church" and do the slide show....."We're a Missionary Church!"

This same church, it might be noted, has no prison or jail ministry; they have no nursing home ministry; they have no food pantry, kitchen, clothing supply, disaster work crews, homeless care ministry, etc, etc, and ETC. None! Fact is, they have no local outreach at all. This "Missionary Church" says to the community where it lives: "We don't have time or patience to deal with you; we're involved in the Lord's work all over the world."

Please correct me here.....but it looks to me like it boils down to this: "We're a Missionary Church" ain't hittin' a lick except to write the check once a month to fund someone else to do the dirty work....and that does not translate into anything local. I mean, it's hard to send out a missionary to your own town, right? So, we can have this big budget, big annual meeting, and big map on the wall, and we can look really good! The idea of actually gettin' off the pew and out into the streets and talking to real people, even dirty, uneducated, uncouth, people not of "our kind" that's a bit much. Don't even talk about going into a nursing home to those smelly, pathetic, mindless old people....or a jail or prison and associating with those people!

"We're a Missionary Church" all right.....just so we can keep it convenient, clean, with lots of acclaim, and maybe even get some time on the beach, huh?

Friday, October 16, 2009


Despite loud (very loud) protestations to the contrary, it seems to me that the local churches are writing off a certain number of folks who "fall through the cracks"....just as in a business model where there are bound to be losses through shoplifting or breakage: part of the game, they say.

Mostly this is a characteristic of large large? who can say specifically? It does seem to me, in my thoroughly subjective view of this, that the larger the congregation, the more likely it is to happen, and the more likely it is to be "written off" as a natural consequence.

It's like there is an unwritten protocol, a time frame in which absent members or wayward members are dealt with. If a family absents itself for a week or two, they get the phone calls, perhaps even personal visits. After a month, this contact diminishes; after two months or so, all communication ceases. The times vary but the end result is the same: "members" of the body are amputated. The attitude out of which this is born reminds me of the old Hollywood line "What have you done for me lately?" If someone is not currently behaving in a manner befitting your ideal, they are to be cut off and forgotten!

If my reader here is naive, he might be thinking I am harsh. Let me give you just one example. Several years ago, we joined a prominent church in a new (to us) community. I was in the very early days of prison ministry. Our new pastor gave us a directory of church members and I spent some time looking though it, identifying folks whom we'd met and wondering about those whom I'd never seen in the services. Most of the photos were of families or couples but there was one which caught my eye: a single man, 35-40....I'd never seen him around. I asked the pastor about him. "Oh, he's in jail I think...."

"Have you been to see him?" I asked. Nah, he thought some one had, one of the deacons. I asked around and no one knew much. (Turns out I asked the wrong people, but didn't learn that til later) About a year later, after we had started weekly meetings in one of the state prisons in this county, that very fellow from the directory walked into the chapel. He'd been in prison for 4 years at that point. He'd had no contact with anyone from the church.

That story has a happy ending. He is out on parole now, working, and attending church regularly (not the church where he was once a member, however...nor am I, for that matter). You see what I'm saying?....after a certain period of time, people are just written off, forgotten. "oh, he doesn't go here any more"

I know I said "one example" and this is not another, just a generality. Nursing home residents are another forgotten group. At one time, we did a lot of nursing home ministry. I cannot tell you how many folks I talked with week after week and asked if they were Christians, if they were "church members" and so forth, and how many responded along the lines of "I used to be a member of such and such a church"...but they'd lived in that nursing home for years and had no contact with their "church family"

"Well, they quit coming......." Yep, sure did! Locked up, shut in, disabled, paralyzed, mind's slipping, immobilzed by aging and illness.....they quit coming. And the "church" quit caring......

No, the "church" never cared. It was all "form" When one is there, in the proper place, making the proper sounds and motions, they are cool......they are part of the show. When one becomes anomalous, some effort is made to bring him back into the expected pattern, but if those efforts fail, the anomalies are quickly abandoned. Too much effort required, too much a departure from the routine, the sacred routine.

As we used to say in the insurance business, when 90 or so of us gathered for the hated, mandatory "sales meeting".....and the start was delayed because one guy was late..."One monkey don't stop the show"....The church is down with that! Those who fall by the wayside are left after minimal, token efforts....we cannot slow down the juggernaut simply to minister to a single person or couple. You win some, you lose some......