Saturday, January 24, 2009

D James Kennedy's Successor Says "No" to Politics

The grandson of Billy Graham has taken the helm of, arguably, the most prominent Presbyterian church in the land. He follows in the steps of D. James Kennedy, an ardent proponent of the "Xian Nation" hooey & a leader in the Religious Right Movement until his death a couple of years ago.

William Graham
Tullian Tchividjian is part of the new generation of conservative Xian leaders hat are actually opposed to politics from the pulpit.

“He is not going to be interested in addressing cultural issues ideologically,” Pastor John Wood of Cedar Springs told The Miami Herald. “His interest
isn’t getting up there and waving the American flag.”

Tchividjian told the newspaper, “Dr. Kennedy came from a completely different generation, and my leadership by that fact alone will be different.” He refused to answer any of the newspaper’s questions on current political issues, including same sex marriage.

“The impression out there of Coral Ridge is that they are a church that is stuck in the past and unwilling to change” he said. “This move on their part corrects that assumption.”

When D. James Kennedy was leading Coral Ridge, you could count on some great sermons; I admit that. But there was the
Dominionist Theology too: a steady stream of books, pamphlets, tapes and DVDs attacking evolution, opposing gay rights and arguing that America is a “Xian nation.”

This is a welcome change. When Xians are more known for their politics than their discipleship efforts, their focus has been
temporal & not eternal. People of faith --- even non-faith people --- look to religious leaders for guidance & teaching about faith, life, morality, & the Big Questions of "why" & "Who." The politics can be gained from CNN or Fox News or anywhere else. When the church house becomes a place of political rhetoric instead of spiritual guidance, the Message looses its impact & the Gospel is cheapened like a 15 second politician's sound bite. The Kingdom of God is advanced by the Power of the Spirit, not the Sword of Caesar.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Who is This God?

I'm going to blog this but I need to clarify. I often find articles & work them into sermons or lectures or blog posts. After saving the text, I start working to rewrite, condense, expand ideas, insert things, go off on tangents, etc. I found this one today & like it. Problem is, it has a time stamp of Dec 2007 & I cannot find the link. I don't know how much is mine & how much is from someone else. So forgive me for plagiarizing but I wanted to put this out there. If you know the original link or author, please let me know so I can give proper credit.

Last month a school caught on fire in Saudi Arabia with more than 800 students inside. Of course there were firemen, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officials from more than one entity there to see that none of the children were harmed and that any of the injured received medical care. After the fire was extinguished, fifteen children had perished in the blaze and scores of others had been injured. The saving of 785 lives required heroic effort on the part of the firemen and the emergency medical personnel. The law enforcement personnel are a different story.

You see, the fifteen children who died in that fire were young girls who for whatever reason at the time of the fire were not attired with the headscarf and black robe required of all girls and women to keep from insulting Allah when going out in public. The Saudi government has a special police unit to enforce this dress code for which there are no exceptions, even blazing school building. The religious police would not allow those little girls out of that building in fact they beat several of them. The doors were locked with those girls inside; they died a terrifying and shameful death—to keep Allah from being insulted.

Who is this Allah who would have been so insulted at little girls struggling for their lives but improperly dressed?

Then comes the reflecting: at one time it was considered "sinful" to date outside one's race; wear make up; dance; play sports/work (or anything else for that matter) on Sunday; have long hair; listen to rock & roll; women to wear pants; & the list goes on.

Alcohol. Of any kind. In any quantities. For any reason.

Who is this God that defines us over things that are no reflection of internal attitudes?

Yet, we will quite happily drink down the cough syrup that is about 80 proof. We will take the pain pills when we are hurting that has the same effect as the alcohol, but it isn't in liquid form. Still, somehow, we will tell people that drinking even a drop is somehow a "sin."

Who is this God that rewards such inconsistency in our ethics & living?

The position we take of throwing the baby out with the bath water on all issues of alcoholic beverages puts us in a foolish and unscriptural position. Would we have people suffering from polydipsia (a condition where huge and frequently fatal amounts of water are consume in a disorder not all that rare) abstain from drinking water?

The sin is not in the water and it is not in the wine. There is no good gift of God that is not perverted by man into something sinful, not one of them. Trying to banish the good gift to prevent the perversion casts us in an inconsistency. The sin is in the heart of man for which God gave us the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, and through him the ability to receive forgiveness for sins so terrible that we can never forgive ourselves. What most people caught up in perversions of every kind, including drunkenness, gluttony, and pride is the need for the forgiveness and love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

All of you know that I am fiercely Southern Baptist, and I hope all of you know that I am no proponent for drunkenness. Neither do I have a wine cellar or even a wine rack; nor do I have a bar or all that goes with that.

My routine traveling around this country brings me into contact with a lot of people on a regular basis where most of the time my being a Southern Baptist comes up. Every time the first reaction is “oh you don’t drink.” I must tell you that it makes me mad every time. Is that what we really want people to know about us as our principal identity? To what lengths are we willing to go to continue the promotion of that identity? And at the end of the day, is such a position scriptural, is it logical, and is it in keeping with the character of God or is it just a knot headed approach to choosing one thing for reasons long forgotten and then “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

Some of you might view this as the promotion of alcohol. But make sure it’s not denominational pride that causes that view. There are a lot of folks who should never touch alcohol. There are a lot of folks who do that would be wise to consume less. And there are a lot of folks who know when that next drop of wine, just like that next spoonful of mash potatoes turns from something that was a good gift from God into a perversion by man.

No, we would never allow little girls to die in a school on fire.

But are we willing to portray the God we have faith in as a knot head and belong to a denomination whose self imposed identity is born of a single issue that can best be described as knot headed.

And leave people to wonder: Who is this God Who is a knot headed?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why Can't We Get Along?

I saw this over on Roy Donkin's blog, Thin Places, & had to post it. Roy has a great blog --- check it out. This video reminds me that sometimes lessons can be learned in the most unimaginable places.

Listen up world, it can be done.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Born Again American

Bill Moyers has done a first rate job with the calling attention to the Born Again American website.

Sign the pledge with me. America can be better. Let's make it so.

The first video is of Moyers' report & part of the song written by
Keith Carradine. The second video is the entire song --- really good, I might add. Enjoy. And God bless us all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baptist Church Women Meeting: Democrat Panties

My good friend over at Georgia Mountains & Beyond posted this video on his website & I had a big belly laugh. This is a hoot. Check out his blog too --- it's a good one.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Flying Squirrel in the House

Someone on told the tale about having a flying squirrel in their house. That's quite an event & I'm sure that story will go for a generation at least. Somehow the squirrel got in their walls. She asked me what I thought about it &, being in the mood I'm in, I think I nailed it. Honest. I do believe I've nailed this one. Whadda ya think?

OK. My first thought was maybe a poltergeist. Really. After the election I felt for sure some GOP hack had had a stoke & found his way into your walls to haunt you for whatever reason. As if the GOP hack needs a reason to haunt us; that's just the way they are & it is hard to get rid of 'em. Basically, you can't trust a GOP poltergeist.

Then I see it is a flying squirrel. OK. That means it is a DEM hack in disguise. Basically, the thing is named as a lie & we all know how the DEMs like to lie --- worse than the GOP does. Much worse. Squirrels don't fly & DEMs are not democratic at all. And the "squirrel" thing. Bull. They are nothing more than rats with a bushy tail. So it is a DEM hack in disguise.

Finally, I realize the critter is fee loading off you so it must be DEM supporter.

But then I see it was smart enough not to get electrocuted . That rules out any additional GOP qualities.

So the littler feller must have a bit of Libertarian in him to be able to manage to stay alive amongst all the danger & despair.

That's my take on it.

If you wanna read the whole thead, you can go to at this link & read the whole thing.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Political Rally in SC Over Outlawed "I Believe" Tags Consigns Unbelievers to Hell

There is an interesting news story by WYFF Channel 4 TV about a prayer/political rally at People's Baptist Church in Greer, SC. Better than 400 folks gather to pray & protest the judge's ruling that outlawed the SC specialty tag that would have emblazoned "I Believe" along with a stain glass window & a cross.

The event was organized by pastor Arnold
Hiette. Of course the politicians showed up too ... nothing like a good prayer meeting melded with some vote stumping to get the old money to flowin'.

All those folks were upset that a judge had ruled a few weeks ago that the tag amounted to an endorsement of a religion. The pastor & politicians say the tag was not an endorsement & that phrase "I Believe" & the stain glass window & the cross doesn't necessarily mean one religion is getting special favor. Instead, these folks say it is about free speech & that Christians are being told to be quite.

The politicians on hand, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer & Attorney General Henry
McMaster, were quick to point out that Christians can't have a special license plate, even though other secular groups can. They claim that means that Christians are being denied free speech protection.

“There is free speech for every group in this state besides Christians,” Bauer said last night. “Every citizen has the right to free speech in this country. I don’t understand why witnessing in public is considered unconstitutional. You don’t even have to be a Christian to believe everyone deserves the freedom of speech.

“When a secular group can get a license plate without anyone challenging them,” he continued, “but we as Christians can’t…. Enough is enough.”

Problem is, no other faith group has a license plate directly voted upon by the legislature.

The 4 clergy members & 2 faith groups that brought the suit --- the Rev. Dr. Thomas A. Summers, Rabbi Sanford T. Marcus, the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Knight and the Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, as well as the Hindu American Foundation and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee --- were in the cross hairs of the faithful.

According to a report by Spartanburg’s Herald-Journal ... Red-faced and angry, shaking his fist alongside his Bible, Hiette told the congregation that the four complainants — especially the Unitarian — and one judge who took away the people’s right to witness via their vehicle tags "along with the ACLU, they’re going to burn in hell."

Wow. Godslingers at work. For upholding the equal protection of all people's right to have a gov't free from endorsing any faith, they are consigned to hell. Maybe Rev.
Hiette should read the Bible more, 'cause I don't ever read where any political opinion ever sent anyone to hell.

And I would remind the Good Reverend that Jesus never once used the civil authority to carry out his mission. Paul reminded the church over & over again that we rely on the Power of the Spirit, not the Sword of Caesar to get the message out.

The only way my Christian faith can be legally protected is to make sure all other faiths are protected now. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Perhaps the politicians need to be reminded that the faith majority today is just a shell of its former self in a generation. That's what happened to the Puritans. It'll happen again. Today's minority is tomorrow's large voting bloc.

It should be a crime for religious leaders & political figures to use religion as a means to manipulate the faithful for political gain.

I'm sure those same politicians would have been at the Mosque saying the same thing if it had been a majority Muslim faith in the SC Legislature that just voted to have the star & crescent on a SC tag.

I'm just so sure they will --- that's where the money & votes are.

(See Americans United Blog entry by
Sandhya Bathija for some good info.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Changes of Today

Had 3 new things today in the TBAR household. Kinda a milestone. And I am proud, giggly & not ready all at the same time.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am severely hampered in the mechanical operations department. Tools in my hands don't fix things; they hurt me. Machines don't make sense to me. I look at 'em & know how to turn 'em on & what they do, but =how= they work is a mystery. Now I can explain some of the math behind it, but just enough to let someone know that I have no idea what I'm doing. I can't fix, make, repair, operate, guide, assemble, or even decipher things. If it says Some assembly required, I am not even opening the box. I just wait until a neighbor or friend comes over to help 'cause those directions might as well be in Cantonese.

But today, I did something. It ain't much, but I did it.

I fixed a leaky toilet. The wax seal needed to be replaced & I did it. Hot dang! (Sorry Skyline Plumbing & Septic, but I decided to try it & I did it!) No trips to the ER. Didn't have to call the Fire Department. And the house is still standing.

Thus, the proud ...

Second, I got a GPS for Christmas & I programmed it this morning. Going to soccer games all over the Southeast & trying to read Yahoo maps made me realize that I was going to crash one day. So the GPS is now my navigator. However, I didn't like the American accent. I changed it to the British accent. She sounds much better now for some reason.

And with the accent change, comes a name change. "Gabby" didn't sound right for a Brit. So I told Mrs TBAR I was going to rename the GPS. That crisp accent; telling me what to do at every turn; ordering me in every fashion ... Feeling a bit giggly I told Mrs TBAR my GPS is now named "Mistress."

Thus, the giggly ... Mrs TBAR does not see the humor in it at all. Thus, it may be a temporary giggly ....

And finally there is the not ready. Yes, I have a daughter. She is 16. And she has her first official boyfriend. He is a good kid. Soccer player (of course.) I like him. But she is still my Little Princess & I'll be danged if I'm going to let her forget that nobody will ever care for her like her daddy does. Nobody. Just not ready for Peaches to be the fine young lady she has grown to be. And my oldest, now 20. Not ready for him to be graduating from college soon. Maybe he'll take that year & study in Scotland like he has been offered ... Just not ready for all these changes.

Maybe I need to take a Road Trip to Birmingham for the New Baptist Covenant Meeting in a few weeks to get my mind off these weighty matters ... it is much easier discussing the Malthusian Theory as it relates to missions; or the importance of John Leland on the 1st Amendment principle of the separation of church & state.

Yep. Mrs TBAR will tell me where to go & Mistress will tell me how to get there. I can't wait.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Kentucky Legislator Wants God in Charge of Security

You may remember a few months ago the story came out about the little-known Kentucky law that required the Kentucky Department of Homeland Security to acknowledge God as the state's Protector in all educational & training materials, & that a plaque saying God is at the helm had to be posted at state's Emergency Operations Center. (News article in Lexington-Herald.)

Of course, Kentucky is getting sued over that since it is said to be a violation of the Establishment Clause, e.g., the state of Kentucky is endorsing one faith over others. (Associated Baptist Press article on the lawsuit.)

Over the weekend, the KY legislator & Baptist pastor responsible for getting that into the Kentucky law books was the subject of a NY Times article (click here). His name is Tom Riner, a Democrat, & he has cost Kentucky plenty of money in the past & even more currently over this sort of issue.

“The church-state divide is not a line I see,” Mr. Riner, a Baptist minister, said of the lawsuit. “What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God.”
A mild-mannered man, Mr. Riner, 62, speaks in a near-whisper, clearing his throat with each sentence as though he would prefer to remain quiet. He declined a request to be filmed by a video crew because it would not be in keeping with scriptural teachings about humility, he said apologetically.

And yet, Mr. Riner’s intense and silent stares convey a focused will. His friends and adversaries recall the time in the 1970s when the musical “Hair” first came to this city, and Mr. Riner, upset by its nudity, quietly interrupted the show by climbing on stage, a Bible in hand.

“Tom is as pious as he is persistent,” said State Senator Kathy W. Stein, a Democrat from Lexington. “He’s also prone to legislative stunts that are embarrassing and expensive for this state.”

Since 2002, state and local officials have spent more than $160,000 in legal fees, having lost case after case to the American Civil Liberties Union for posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings, and they still owe $400,000 for a 2005 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that such displays should be removed.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hope for 2009

While 2008 was a crappy year, I have hope that 2009 will be better. My hope is not in who is in the White House; what laws are written; who is on the Supreme Court; what interest rates do; employment numbers. None of that or anything else impacts my hope in any way, shape, form or fashion.

My hope is in the power of the resurrected Christ.

I don't know what heaven is like, though I know enough to know that what most people think about heaven is more pagan than Biblical. I'm not even sure about hell, though I know a lot of folks want to use their idea of torment to scare the hell out of people, & into church --- a bad move, in my opinion. Scaring people into acting a certain way is just being a bully, & won't produce lasting results.

But no matter how or what or whom or anything else, 2009 will be memorable. We live it to the best of our ability & tell the warmongers & the morons to "Stick It."

Me thinks it is more fun to fight for a righteous cause than to fight for power or money or some politician's whim. The Constitution --- that is worth standing up for. Our liberties --- that is worth fighting for. Justice --- I think we need to make sure it is freely given & dutifully protected.

I'm miffed at our politicians who use faith as a means to gain political power by playing on the naive masses.

I'm downright ticked off at the Religious Right who for 30 years have manipulated the faithful to garner votes, & by doing so have elevated themselves to the position of Religious Regent on behalf of the state.


But there is hope. The next generation is more open to treating all people fairly, without regard to race, creed or sexual preference.

The next generation, I think, sees the need to protect the essential liberties, lest we be essentially enslaved.

2009 may be another flop. 2010 may flop as well. But I've got confidence in the next generation that they understand even better than we did the importance of liberty.

I am confident of this because I see my 20 year old son & my 16 year old daughter, & the commitment they have to religious liberty & civil rights of all people. They strive to not just tolerate others, but actively protect them with the same vigor used for self preservation.

When I helped my son move pack up his stuff from college for Christmas break, I can't tell you how thrilled I was to find, on his dorm door, a copy of Madison's Remonstrance. Hanging in his dorm room is a copy of the Declaration of Independence & the Bill of Rights. Then there were several posters about liberty & freedom ...

My daughter is not one to back down from doing the right thing, especially one on such weighty principles as the Separation of Church & State & equal protection for everyone. I've heard her make the arguments --- she can stand her ground against a Godslinger any day.

I'm really proud of 'em.

2009 my be another 2008. That's very true. But my hope is in the forward thinking of the empty tomb, not the backward thinking of a cross. And when I see my kids & can be as proud of them as I am now ... well, it will be better sometime because they will make it so.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Racism & being a Kid

Someone I call a "friend" sent me an email recently & asked me if I had ever, in my life, not stood up for someone that was being mistreated, or against something that was just wrong. I appreciated the sentiment of the email & the compliment but the question made me think that maybe a confession of sorts would be in order.

There have been a few times where I didn't stand up as I should but the one that haunts me 'til this very day was about 35 years ago.

There was a another kid that played on the same pee wee football team as me. Wes was taller, faster & could catch anything thrown his way. That's why he was a receiver & a tight end --- a really good athlete.

Wes was just a nice guy. We hung out together before & after practice. He usually rode with us to away games. Wes & I were just good friends.

And Wes happened to be black.

As a 12 year old boy in 1975 in GA, I knew about racism. I knew how things were & how things "were supposed to be" had it not been for those "no-back bone politicians in Washington & those activist judges." (I'm being really nice here & won't say the rest. Use your imagination & recollections.) Still, being a naive kid had its good points & that's why Wes & I were friends. It didn't matter to me --- or to him either, I suppose. We never talked about it; my parents never said anything. So it was all fine.

Then one day we had to play an away game in Cobb County. My mom had driven us to the park & we had gotten there much earlier than the rest of the team. So Wes & I walked down to the concession stand to get a drink. Plenty of time before all the pre-game stuff & plenty of time for us to get in trouble too.

As we were walking, we had to pass a rather lengthy stretch with a chain link fence. Along that fence were some players from another team, maybe 6 or 8 of 'em. They were bigger than Wes & me. No parents or other adults around.

I don't know all the things they said but it was a lot. And it was stuff they must have heard & repeated many times before. Wes was called all sorts of names. He was told to "go back to Africa with the rest of the ... " You get the picture. And I wasn't spared because I was with him & they began to taunt me with things like "you lover of his kind too?"

I didn't know what to do but I knew what they were doing was wrong. I was afraid because there were more of them & in both number & size. Wes & I couldn't do anything except walk on past & take it.

We didn't talk about it. Neither of us knew what to say to other. I was ashamed for what they had done & was mad as blue blazes at 'em too. But mostly I was mad at myself for not doing [i]something[/i]. I felt like I had let a good friend down in the worst way.

Today it is easy to know what I should have done: found an adult & tell the story. But as a 12 year old kid who is scared, it ain't that easy. The worst part is I know now that if I had found an adult & told what had happened, I may have gotten an even harsher response.

I remember looking at Wes as they were saying those things; mostly I was looking for a cue as to what to do. To this day, the thing that I remember most is that Wes changed for those 15 seconds or so. He stood up straighter & held his head a bit higher. There was no clinched fist or glare or frown or anything like that. What there was, was an air of his being resolute; that he was bigger than that; that he had risen above it; & proud that things were different in the "real" world, even if a bunch of kids were still living in the past.

Honestly, I was proud of Wes. Still am proud of him, too. And I'm still ashamed that I didn't do something

What I can do, is do something today.

Luke 6:31 Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!
--- The Message