Month: July 2007

Michael Vick, Abortion, and National Repentance

Michael VickI have two dogs–a German Shepherd named Princess and a black lab named Shadow. My big dogs spend most of their time inside my house and sleep in the same bedroom I do. I personally abhor dog fighting.  I think a person who intentionally harms dogs has serious issues; however, the uproar over Michael Vick and his alleged dog fighting demonstrates an important characteristic of our culture. We care more about animals than we do the unborn children of this world.

Nike suspended its contract with Vick and Reeboktook the unprecedented step of stopping sales of his No. 7 jersey.” Consider a few of these quotes about Michael Vick’s actions. Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, said, “From the moment you read that indictment, it turns your stomach. There’s obviously a great deal of interest in this. It struck very much an emotional chord. We hear our fans very clearly.” Arthur Blank, the Falcons owner said, “This sort of behavior is really horrific. This is not the player or the person that I knew the last six years.”  PETA  said, “Today, we sound a clarion call to all people: Stand up for what is right, and speak out against what is wrong. Dogfighting is unacceptable. Hurting animals for human pleasure or gain is despicable. Cruelty is just plain wrong.”

Speaking of “clarion calls” and “standing up for what is right” where are all these people when an innocent unborn child’s life is taken by abortion. While fighting two dogs where at least the animals have a chance at survival draws vast criticism, the killing of helpless babies giving them no chance of survival finds support. How can it be that our society roars over the horror of one and supports the other?

While the two certainly are not identical situations parallels do exist. A woman who kills an unborn child is said to have the right to choose. Society argues that her body is her property and no one can tell her what to do with her property. Michael Vick also has the right to choose. These dogs are his property as he is the owner. Can anyone tell him what to do with his property? Apparently so as our society screams, “NO!” Michael Vick you cannot harm dogs in this nature. They do not deserve this cruelty. Yet our society does not give a second look to an abortion clinic where thousands of undeserving, innocent lives cease to exist.

I propose that our society demonstrates inconsistency when uproar occurs over a professional athlete fighting dogs and the same society supports the killing of life by a woman. You tell me which is worse. If you still have doubts, take another look at the fetus grabbing the doctor’s hand (it’s a little graphic)…

I personally am glad that one unwanted pregnancy did not end in abortion. If it had, then I would not have the daughter I do today. The daughter that I pray with and put to bed every night. The daughter that brings a smile to my face each day and who loves swing and play in the sand. It breaks my heart to think of the couples struggling with infertility who would adopt unwanted children. It breaks my heart to think of all the lives snuffed out.  

I would be remiss if I did not conclude by stating that the grace of God abounds. We all have sinned. Michael Vick has sinned just the same as any woman who has authorized an abortion on a child. Jesus Christ forgives the sins of all who repent and call upon His name. He will forgive Michael Vick if Vick repents, and He will forgive any woman or man who has made bad choices if he or she repents. Our God will even forgive our nation if we repent.  Every American should be burdened and repent for the sins of our nation; a nation where dog fighting draws more attention than murdering the helpless. May God forgive us all.

10 Things I Believe: Number 6: Regenerate Church Membership

I believe that regenerate church membership used to be a primary distinctive of Baptist churches and is a quintessential element of a healthy church. Regenerate church membership links together three crucial elements of the church–baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and church discipline. Baptism serves as the initiatory ordinance of Christian life. In the book of Acts, baptism was the public profession of faith and the first step of obedience. Baptists hold to believer’s baptism by immersion and that proper baptism is mandatory for church membership. This guards regenerate church membership on the front side, if we do our best to make sure it is believer’s baptism. Our churches do a decent job of this except with toddler baptisms. This is where we often baptism 3, 4, or 5 year olds who do not understand salvation or a personal profession. While I do not wish to place an age on proper baptism, we should insure that the person makes a personal profession of faith.  

Church discipline guards regenerate church membership on the back side. If a person fails to live according to the profession he has made, then church discipline restores or removes the person from membership. By removing rebellious members, the church maintains its integrity and regenerate church membership. This step has been lost by many of our churches.  

The lack of church discipline leads to a lack of regenerate church membership which jeopardizes the proper practice of the Lord’s Supper. Concerning rebellious people, the Bible tells us not to even eat with such a one as this. While I believe that passage refers to the Lord’s Table, even those who disagree must admit that if I cannot share a meal at Burger King, then I cannot share the Lord’s Table with such a person. Without regenerate church membership, I do not believe the Lord’s Supper can be practiced with integrity.    

One sign revealing the loss of regenerate church membership in our Baptist churches is the inflated church roll. Due to pressure for numerical growth as the standard for success, we allow the membership to inflate. We no longer discipline or remove members for absenteeism and end up with churches whose membership far exceeds those attending on Sunday morning. It has not always been this way. At times in Baptist history the attendance of Baptist churches exceeded the membership of those churches. We need to clean our membership and return to regenerate church membership.  

A return to regenerate church membership will accomplish at least three things. First, it will result in meaningful membership. You may consult 9 marks ministries for more information on this. Second, it will accurately reflect where each church is and in turn allow the Southern Baptist Convention to accurately reflect its membership. The 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention cannot fix its inflated number from the top down. We all know there are not this many true Southern Baptists, but this number comes from the reports of the churches and until the churches fix the problem it will remain at the national level. Third, regenerate church membership will demonstrate the proper difference between the world and the church. You cannot live like the world and be part of the church. Our testimony will be strengthened because our church membership will reflect accurately who we are. This will also prevent the days of calling “members” who have not been to church in years to vote out the pastor.  

Lastly and as a prelude to my next number, regenerate church membership lays the foundation for congregational church government. Many have moved away from the biblical model of congregational polity because they fail to maintain regenerate church membership. These reasons are why I believe in a regenerate church membership.  

10 Things I Believe: Number 7: Biblical Roles for Women

I believe that men and women are equal yet men and women have different roles. Scripture teaches different roles in the family and in the church. When the men do their job properly, then women can fill their biblical roles without problems.

1 Timothy 2:12-14 states, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” This command which applies to the local church states that women should not teach or have authority over men. It means that women should not serve as preachers. Although not all believe as I do, I also believe that women should not teach a Sunday School class that has men in it. Scripture does not speak to Seminary education which is different than a church, but I would avoid females teaching men in pastoral track degrees based on the principle of modeling the example you desire to produce.

I don’t want to focus on the few items Scripture says women should not do rather than the many things they should do. Many women have what I consider to be the highest calling on earth of being a mother. Women may train other women and especially younger women as indicated in Titus 2:3-4 in the church. Women may also train children and serve in important counseling ministries in the church. Women serve an important role in Seminary education. Christian Universities, which are in a different category than Seminaries, need great women teachers in non-pastoral classes and great female administrators that will lead and teach well, inspiring greatness with the message of the Gospel while standing firm on the inerrant Scriptures and teaching biblical truths to the next generation. One of the most meaningful teachers in my life was a female English teacher at a Christian University, and I continue to be grateful to God for her impact on my life.

In order to elaborate on all of these issues would take a series of posts, which I hope to do at some point in the future. For now, I will only elaborate on two items related to service in the local church.

First, the most popular argument against biblical roles states that this command was cultural and does not apply to our day. This dog won’t hunt because Paul himself appeals to creation for establishment of his argument. God created Adam first and then Eve from Adam developing the pattern of male headship in the very beginning–before the fall and in a different cultural setting.

Second, a pastor of a church does not have the right to authorize any woman to act contrary to Scripture. This is what happens in churches which state that women teaching men do so under the pastor’s authority. Pastors, in my opinion, will have to provide an answer for this action in the future and have no right to go against Scripture. More to come in the future on this topic…

I also believe that God has designed a role for women in the home. Consider Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” I admit that the command given to husbands in the following verses is more difficult. Nevertheless, the role for women exists, and in the following verses you have three examples of submission and then requirements for the authority figure. 1) Wives submit; husbands love, 2) children obey; parents do not provoke, and 3) bondservants obey; masters treat them well. Some argue a cultural argument which states that because slavery no longer occurs then female submission should also not occur. However, I believe that misses the point of the passage. Every person is under submission to some authority, and must learn to live under authority in order to submit properly to Christ. In addition the cultural argument does not answer whether children are still under the command to obey their parents or was that cultural too? More to come on this topic in the future…

I believe that our society is quickly becoming a matriarchal society. Females now outnumber males in college applications by 57% to 43% and the Chronicle of Higher Education documents this fact. I believe we are watching a reversal of roles to an unbiblical state. Men become more passive while women assume unbiblical roles of leadership both in the home and in the church. Stay-at-home moms are ridiculed and the title of “mother” is no longer the most blessed name in the world. Parents neglect the obligation to rear their own children delegating this responsibility to a daycare in the name of multiple incomes and materialism more often than necessity. Until our society returns to a biblical understanding of satisfaction in the roles God has designed and submission to His authority, I do not believe we will experience revival. This is why I believe it is essential that we recover biblical roles for women.

Editorial Note: This post has been updated since its original posting. My views have not changed, but the changes in this post more clearly articulate my position.

The Home is Under Attack

I am extremely blessed. I have a wife who has a BA degree from the University of Florida; a Master of Divinity Degree with languages and a concentration in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is currently in the final stages of her PhD in Systematic Theology with plans to write a dissertation on some aspect of Women’s Studies. She possesses more education than most men or women and yet she has scriptural convictions to make the home her priority. She truly understands the importance of child rearing and homemaking.

She recently wrote an article for her blog on the subject that demonstrates the importance of the home. In this world of two income families, never ending desires for more material possessions, and the lack of understanding concerning the importance of children, her article certainly merits consideration. You can find the article here.

In a society seemingly committed to ridiculing women who make the home a priority, and a society who thinks all homemakers are uneducated, I am extremely proud of my beloved who has educated herself to fullest possible extent while maintaining the proper biblical committment to the home.

Ten Things I Believe: Number 9: Calling Out the Called

the_called_cover-2.jpgI believe in “calling out the called.” To my knowledge this phrase originated with L.R. Scarborough, the second president of Southwestern Seminary. In 1914, Scarborough wrote a book called Recruits for World Conquests. In this book, one of the chapters was titled, “calling out the called.” In fact, one of the biographies of Scarborough chose this phrase for its title.  Behind this phrase lies a concept that God has called men and women to serve in Christian ministry and that we must be busy calling out those whom God has called.  Scarborough’s emphasis and book successfully resulted in over 6,000 people surrendering their lives to full-time Christian Ministry when the convention gave out 25,000 copies of his book.

I have heard it said that in the near future we will experience a shortage of pastors. While I do not wish to be alarmist nor claim that I can prove a shortage of ministers, I do believe we should refocus our efforts on calling out the called. The shortage has already been proven among Catholics. You can look at a graph demonstrating this decline here.  

 While Baptists have traditionally had pastors to serve our churches, there is additional biblical evidence for continuously calling out the called. Consider the following:  

Matthew 9:37-38   37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  38 “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

 In addition to praying for laborers, I too want to have a part in calling out the called. I have made it an intentional part of my efforts. When I speak at churches, I often challenge hearers to surrender their lives to Christ, and I have contributed to a little booklet to help those struggling with the call to ministry. The booklet is titled “Calling out the Called.” The first chapter discusses the call to ministry, the second chapter discusses the call to seminary, and the third chapter, written by Dr. Patterson, discusses the call to your first church. This easy to read booklet sponsored by Southwestern Seminary addresses the aspects one might struggle with during these decisions. 

We believe in this concept so much that we are giving these booklets out free of charge. If you would like to have any of these booklets for yourself or for your church, all you need to do is email me your name, where to send the books, and how many you would like. I would encourage anyone interested to take one or two to put on the shelf so when someone comes to you with questions, you will have a resource ready. We usually ship them five at a time to interested churches.  

I am also encouraging others to have services dedicated to the purpose of calling out the called. Please consider dedicating a sermon to this topic and challenging your congregation to surrender to full-time Christian ministry. If you would like to have someone come and speak to your congregation, I will gladly help arrange that too.  

We must do everything we can to call out ministers for the Gospel of the Jesus Christ. The fields are white with harvest and the laborers are few. That is why I believe in “calling out the called.”

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