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Should VBS Take a Permanent Vacation Part 2

June 26, 2012
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So is VBS and its approach biblical? That is the main question that needs to be answered. As best as I can tell, that answer is unequivocally no, and here’s why.

VBS unknowingly attacks the family and treats the parents as if they’re not really important. The idea of targeting church kids and neighborhood kids for a week or two to teach them the Bible is commendable. However, purposely not targeting the parents of these kids is downright dubious. The thought that only kids need the scriptures is absurd, yet that’s the bottom line thinking of VBS. Sadly most don’t argue over this nor think through the implications. The gospel is for everybody, parents and kids. Any self-respecting local church would agree with that statement and even suggest that it applies to everything they do ministry wise, yet they simply forget about VBS.

But VBS is well-known for being the church’s biggest evangelism tool! Guess that excuses the inconsistencies, right? After all, evangelism is important and biblical. But let’s think this through: all kids ages breathing up through high school are welcomed mostly from the church and neighborhoods. What if some of those kids are already saved? That doesn’t matter….they need to be with their friends hearing the Bible taught anyway. Ah, so what about the parents? Who cares….VBS is for kids. Now this type of thinking is always presented yet never spoken. Here I would argue that evangelism doesn’t really fit what’s going on. Rather the efforts to keep the tradition of VBS intact is more important, and evangelism is tacked on to give it a better appeal to the churches. So basically churches intentionally keep the adult-lost out of their biggest evangelism tool, and for what?

Again the unwritten rule comes into play. Churches boast of the numbers they are able to wrangle up summer after summer, and akin to a Billy Graham crusade, there is little to no follow-up of those kids. Some of the church kids don’t “make a decision for Christ” and the neighborhood kids don’t step foot back into that church. But they posted great numbers! That’s gotta stand for something, right?

Now most folks tend to rant and rave about the curriculum presented every year for VBS, and while that surely needs to be discussed, that isn’t part of my reasons why VBS should be eliminated. So parents are intentionally left out of VBS and also left out of the discipleship process which ought to take place after VBS is over. Parents need help raising their kids in the fear and admonition of the Lord, but they don’t need to be replaced and forgotten. Evangelism then becomes the whipping boy for how this operation is ran. Still very few bat an eye.

I’m calling for something is completely unthinkable and unthought of in terms of what the church is to do. I surely would not include VBS in the picture. Nor would I deem it acceptable if a few quirks were adjusted or taken out of the system. This entire philosophy of ministry is against scripture. Instead of calling families together to be taught the Bible, parents are left on shelves and given vacations, while their kids are taken for a few hours a day without one single report given to their parents. I see VBS as an anti-family movement that indeed must be stopped and challenged biblically on all fronts. Maybe then and only then will the local church really think through what VBS is truly about.

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Should VBS Take a Permanent Vacation?

June 26, 2012
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It’s always a sticky situation when someone approaches some thing that’s been considered a ‘staple’ in the church for so many years. But the question is hardly asked of such a staple like VBS…how many years has it been present in the church? Should it stay or should it go? What’s the purpose of it? Is it effectively serving its purpose? Could it be improved? Is there a better way? And then this question must be tacked onto the conversation, is it biblical?

Stemming from the rise of Sunday School, VBS took shape as one teacher wanted to teach the Bible to a great number of children during the summer. Dr. Robert Boville is sometimes credited with establishing VBS as a movement, and there is some credibility to that. So when does Sunday School come onto the scene. Was it the 2nd century? No. Was it the 9th century? Nope. How about the 19th century? Yep. What’s known as Sunday School didn’t pop onto the local church scene until the 19th century, and the VBS movement popped up later that same century, 1898 to be exact. Very early on it was considered missions work. However, I think that’s a poorly misguided label to attach to this program.

After achieving great success within the Southern Baptist churches, it began to grow like wildfire amongst the other denominations. And still it was described as missions work. That’s right….churches all over this country are intentionally and selectively reaching out to kids for the summers….and it’s called missions. Well in the technical sense, I guess that word applies. In its fullest sense, it falls very short of what the Bible defines as missions. Missions is defined as taking the gospel of God to the local and international groups of people who haven’t heard or need to hear again. In the biblical sense, the gospel goes to errbody, not just everybody, but errbody.

Some may think it foolish to look at a program that covers the masses in national churches as well as spread to international churches and question its effectiveness. But being that VBS isn’t found in the Bible and wasn’t introduced until the 19th century was almost over, we must beg the question of whether it’s effective and biblical. In other words, should VBS take a permanent vacation?

I’ll attempt to answer that in my part 2. For now, let me say that what may start out as a great idea doesn’t make it a biblical one.


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The Logic of The Law

June 25, 2012
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I live in Oklahoma….the ultimate RED state. 4 years ago when the presidential election took place, my home state was the only state that voted Republican in every county. Nothing to brag about, but it is pertinent to my post. Legally speaking one would think the lay of the land here would mirror the majority political party voting. But you’d be mistaken.

Just a few days ago, a pregnant woman was killed in the county of Poteau by a man believed to be her ex-boyfriend. This pregnant woman was also reported to be 12 weeks pregnant. What was the man charged with?  http://Poteau killing. Two murder counts. Yes, I said two. Two first-degree murder charges. But how can that be?

Murder is defined as “the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder), and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder).” Even the movie I, Robot understands how our laws define murder when it said this about Sonny, “murder can only be committed when a human kills another human.” Now why did I include this? I’m glad you asked.

Just two months ago in April the state of Oklahoma rejected the personhood bill which meant that embryos are denied full human rights. Basically women in their first trimester are somehow deemed pregnant with something other than a living child. Yes, I did say the first trimester, and if we count that up, we end up with 12 weeks. So when this 12 week pregnant woman is killed in Poteau, and the man is charged with two murder counts, where is the outcry from the RED state and voters who rejected the personhood bill? They’re nowhere to be found because what appears to be majority rule is nothing short of a farce and outright lie. I wouldn’t be shocked if most people are applauding the fact that he’s being charged with killing two people simply because of the crime. However, if a girl decides it’s only her choice to kill or keep the baby and she’s within the first trimester, then that “thing” is not considered a human, therefore aborting the fetus cannot be labeled murder.

So where’s the logic? Your guess is as good as mine. A woman finds out she’s pregnant, and tells family and friends. They all congratulate her on being pregnant, right? Goes something like this, ‘I’m so happy for you. I just know you’re gonna be a great mother.’ Nowhere do these women ever hear someone tell them you’re pregnant with some “thing” or “glob” that will magically (and scientifically) evolve into a living embryo once the 13th week hits. Ridiculous. What about the women who miscarry within their first trimester who then must undergo a D&C procedure to remove the embryo. Aren’t they all called mothers and told the dead babies must be removed so that scarring doesn’t occur?

This article is simply a microcosm of what’s going on in our country. Laws seem to no longer entail logic, and no one bats an eye. We have got to wake up and call a spade a spade. Far too often the saints of the church don’t notice when the Bible is being rejected and professing Christians are locking arms with the lost while they reject it. And since they naively swallow the ‘bait’ of the lay of the land, their worldviews slip further and further away from the biblical one. And these worldviews are brought into the assemblies of saints worshipping and Satan gets a foothold in those assemblies. A biblical worldview is not just a good idea or a battle cry for believers, it is of utmost importance for every Christian so that we can be salt and light in every arena of life that we find ourselves in. This dark world needs penetrating light.


C. I. A.

June 22, 2012
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“He who has ears, let him hear.”

This would be my quintessential phrase to use before the saints of God before every scripture reading and bible study. Of course, I would charge them to pray to God the Spirit for understanding and illumination of the text. And I’d pray that for myself. But this phrase is weighty.

Bible study is rarely taught to new disciples when it ought to be one of the first things taught. It helps to focus the disciple’s attention onto the Trinity. It equips the disciple with a set of tools that will never fail them. It builds them up. It prepares them to turn around and reciprocate this to another new disciple. This is what I consider a Christian Intangible Asset, aka C.I.A.

Let’s talk about one major (and hardly ever discussed) staple in bible study. Read the text from the mindset and context of the hearers. This is monumentally huge. This is Jurassic park huge. Why, might you ask? Understanding the context of every single book within the Bible (66) along with the cultural, political, economical, and ethical influences of the particular place plays an extremely important part in understanding God, Jesus, man, sin, salvation, hell, election, the devil, prayer, justice, righteousness, holiness, law, gospel, grace, miracles and so on.

Knowing the role of the city-state and the king’s roles helps to figure out Pharoah to Judges to Saul to David to Solomon to the exile. Knowing the book of Daniel requires that we understand the culture of the Assyrians so that we can really get the meaning. I even submit that we research the Ancient Near East in order to understand the Old Testament. Knowing the early A.D. farming and societal norms will help to understand Jesus’ parables written in the gospels. Knowing the Roman prison environments along with the picture traced for us in Acts helps to make sense of Paul’s writings.

If we think the Bible is about us, that it’s some roadmap to fulfilling our lives, that it’s some basic instructions before we leave this earth, then we have already lost and given in to the schemes and wiles of the devil. If we think that once we are Christians that we cannot be deceived or that we’re too book/street smart to be fooled, then we have already lost and given in to the schemes and wiles of the devil. But, if we see the scriptures as true, and know that we are not above being attacked and foolishly deceived by Satan, then we ought to pray and read the Bible daily.


Something for Guys and Gals

June 21, 2012
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I’m nothing special. And I’m not being humble. I truly feel that way. Why? Because I don’t have what you may call the ‘traditional’ family upbringing. That consist of a father and mother in the home loving each other and loving me and my brother, a nice sized home with enough space to stack my toys and unpack them to play with, along with an animal of my choosing in a nice neighborhood as I’m sent to the best schools and fun summer camps. I can’t ‘testify’ to that. I didn’t grow up with my father in the home, and nearly every marriage I witnessed growing up was in shambles. I’m talking dead-end signs hanging up type shambles. No one was there to show me how to be a man, how to be a husband, how to relate to women, how to treat and treasure them, how to care for the kids, how to provide, how to lead the family through the trials of life. I can’t testify to that either. There’s nothing special to the foundation that I have been afforded.

So why is it that I’ve conducted one wedding, counseled almost ten folks going through rough marriages, and have been asked to speak to young single men and young single women about dating? Well I have something for all the guys out there I could ever talk to about this. I’ll sum it up as concise as I can: you need Christ to conform you for His purposes because life is not about you always getting your way.

You Need Christ

This is not just so you’ll have a fulfilled life. Or so you’ll be in good standing. This is just the simple truth of the matter. You need Jesus! Like the songwriter said, “I need thee, oh, I need thee, every hour I need thee.” That’s true of every human being alive. Even if you’re born again, you still need him.  There’s no getting past that. To quote Matt Chandler, are you tracking with that? Christianity doesn’t have a 12 steps program. You get Jesus and nothing more. He is all you need. You don’t get Jesus first, then get something else next, and something else to help you out. Jesus is always the remedy. Let me say that again, Jesus is ALWAYS the remedy. Got that?

You Need Christ to Conform You

Contentment is a funny thing. Contentment according to our society’s standards only comes when we get our way. So as dating becomes the topic of discussion, contentment is often times set aside. When it progresses to courting, contentment pops onto the radar. Why? Guys and girls tend to get selfish once the ceremony of marriage looks to be the next step. Then comes engagement which is full of selfish ideas of marriage that are hell-bent on being fully expressed for their contentment purposes. Then comes marriage, and over the years one’s selfishness is challenged at every turn. So what do we learn from this?

You don’t look, think, or act like Jesus….but you should. Here’s the reasoning. Marriage is for everybody. It always has been. What was once a mystery that has now been revealed is that marriage resembles Christ and the church. The men get to play the part of the one who was killed. The women get to play the part of the one who was kept safe. This is the reason for contentment, isn’t it? If Christ redeems you, then you ought to find contentment in him. Your contentment is never to be found in your spouse or the one you’re dating. Never. Only in Jesus. Because your spouse or boo is human, flawed, and is going to disappoint you so much that you may utter one of the most ridiculous phrases I have heard on numerous occasions, well, I know that God wants me to be happy and I’m not happy in this relationship, so I’m gonna do what makes me happy. This is how selfish we are and can verbally be if our source of joy is wrapped up in any other person than Jesus. Let me say this way, whenever we’ve made our boo the idol of our joy, we’re going to be unhappy and we should be.

Christ will conform you to look like himself. Christ often does that through your marriage (and other relationships). So once we begin to understand that Christ is more concerned about us being holy and looking like him than he is with us being happy, then our minds will begin to change and our affections can be rightly placed in him. We think that we have it altogether, but we’re prideful and often wrong. That’s the main reason divorce is so stinking high now. We’re selfish and unwilling to be conformed by Christ unto holiness.

Getting Your Way

When you were created and birthed from the womb, it was never God’s intention to bring you into this world and see to it that you get your way in every possible way. In fact, God is against that type of thinking. And it’s that very kind of thought process that needs Jesus to change so that we can ‘get our minds right’ and live joy-filled lives. Right around here the words sacrifice and submission should be flashing in your mind.  Men get to sacrifice their contentment-driven lives for their wives, even to the point of death. Women get to submit their contentment-driven lives for their husbands. This is what marriage gets to be about. In this picture, there’s no room for getting your way.

Worship War

All of this leads us to this simple point that every dating, courting, and marriage relationship will have to answer as it will inevitably manifest for all to see. Is the reason your relationship is in trouble due to the fact that you’d rather worship yourself than Jesus?  When guys act out in selfish ways, it’s because we’re setting our mind’s attention and heart’s affection on us and our pleasure and our getting our way. That’s all it is. The same is true for the girls.

No matter how bad things are, if you choose not to sacrifice or submit, it’s because your source of contentment isn’t found in Jesus but in yourself. You want to be found happy, and so you refuse to obey Jesus and mirror the picture of Christ and the church until you are happy. This is why you need Jesus. You repent and you believe in Him, and believe in the picture that marriage is to imitate. Place your contentment in Jesus. Displace your joy from your boo and repent when you find yourself guilty of doing that. Trust that Jesus knows better than you, because he does, and look forward to being conformed into Jesus. There is unexplainable joy there, I promise.

So when you, boy or girl, wake up and consider your relationship at whatever level it is, know this: if you’re not serious about reflecting the picture of Christ and His bride, then you need to 1) stop dating, 2) stop courting, or 3) repent of your idolatrous marriage and seek Jesus. This is what I intend on telling every guy and gal from here on out when it comes to male-female relationships. Remember, I’m nothing special, and neither are you.

Deo Volente


Father’s Day, Fifh Commandment, and Foreign Roles

June 17, 2012
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Today is a day that the Lord has made. Let us worship and be glad in it. Today is also known as Father’s Day. A day that once used to be special for American families across the country to singularly honor all the fathers in the world. Now this holiday is used by far too many to criticize most men, and hold a self-righteous microscope up to them while using a fine tooth comb to expose the man’s credibility that would deem him worthy of being honored. Sounds very outrageous I’m sure, especially in the current mindset of ‘tolerance’ perpetuated from the academy to the water cooler.

The fifth commandment states “honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Not surprisingly is this entire commandment ignored by the masses. I say entire because it isn’t possible to honor this commandment on Mother’s Day while dishonoring it on Father’s Day. You either obey it completely, or you disobey it fully. Another not so shocking thing is that those within the church are just as guilty as those in the world in terms of their disobedience. The current culture has begun for several years to dissect every male who has procreated children. They are dissected into the category of 1) father or 2) daddy or 3) deadbeat. Again, this goes on while our society screams for tolerance and no judging.

Our culture also has grown more and more comfortable with telling mothers that they are recognized as the children’s’ father. In the words of Arnold, “what you talkin ’bout Willis?” When kids grow up without a father, they are indeed taught to devalue their father while over-valuing their mother. Thereby confusing the gender roles God has assigned, they only for this special day pile on never-ending praises for mom, thus creating foreign roles. But isn’t that just the kids showing their appreciation for the only parent who takes care of them? To that I say, don’t be so naive. The gender roles have been switched, confused, and manifested. The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood define the roles and relationship of men and women as “the complementarian position which affirms that men and women are equal in the image of God, but maintain complementary differences in role and function.” That’s the biblical position presented forth from the Scriptures.

Since God created this world along with Adam and Eve, He was crystal clear about the roles they were to play. Adam is not possible to step over into the boundaries of womanhood. Eve is not able to step over into the boundaries of manhood. God made them equal before Him, but different in roles and function. Their gender difference determine their equality, not their inequality. In other words, God made Adam to be a man and father to Cain and Abel. He did not make him to be father and mother just in case Eve dies or doesn’t want to assume her God-given role. Yet our society likes to fill in those holes without considering the idolatrous mistakes we’re making. Yes, we are guilty of idolatry when we, by our actions, tell God that his ways are not only wrong, but are not what’s best for our lives.

The courts consider single parent homes ‘lacking and insufficient’ most times. They are factually labeled single parent homes. So how these single parent homes consist of a parent serving in both roles? Truth of the matter is they can’t. They are single individuals, not two people. To stress the case a step further, the transgendered individual is either a man or a woman. And if they are a parent, they’re a single parent. There is no adding on. How I wish families could wrap their minds around this, and impact our society.

On Father’s Day, families are to honor fathers and instruct children so they can instruct other generations about the proper gender roles that God has assigned. Let us not forget the other half of that commandment, “that your days may be long.”

 


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Is Christianity a Religious vs Spiritual Religion?

June 15, 2012
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Surely you’ve heard the phrase I’m not religious, I’m spiritual by now? I even hear Christian rappers demarcating Christianity and religion. So I decided to take a closer look into these misnomers, I mean labels, and write about what I discovered.

It was once, as it is now, an understanding that Christianity was counted among the world religions. Why is that important? Because the powers-that-be that come up with said list of world religions considered Christianity to be just that, a religion. And no one from the Christianity sideline yelled out “we’re no religion!” But why not? Because our predecessors would recognize what those powers-that-be also recognized. Would it shock you that the reformers never objected to this fact?

Wonder how the masses would react if the schools textbooks decided to oblige to the contention and removed Christianity from the world religions list?

I’m not talking about religion; I’m talking about a relationship!” Somebody cue the harps and lyres. Try looking up the definition of religion and it’s not hard to see that Christianity definitely belongs in that group. Try looking up James 1:27 and it’s not hard to see that Christianity entails the relationship aspect also. So what do we say now?

Are Christians now not spiritual? Some may agree. But they would be countering everything Paul said about believers in 1 Corinthians 2, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.” It’s very clear that we are spiritual.

Are Christians now not religious? Some may also agree here, but they would be in conflict with what James said in James 1, “If anyone thinks he is religious  and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” In other words, James is saying that believers are religious while warning that they don’t deceive their own hearts by not guarding their tongues. So where do we go from here?

Let’s recap shall we. Christianity for many centuries has been confirmed and affirmed as a religion by both Christians and the world. Yes, the reformers even believed (ex: Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion). Christian believers are considered spiritual by Paul, and religious by James. Christianity is now and has always included the relational aspect. I understand that the term ‘religion’ carries with it negative connotations, but the world in general, and Christianity in particular is infamous for taking something that was once negative and putting a new and positive spin on it. Why won’t we do the same for these misnomers?

No disrespect to my friends and certain rappers who are guilty of demarcating Christianity from these other terms, but I think you ought to check the scriptures before spazzing out writing lyrics or trying to ‘win’ over the people who are against organized religion. Let’s not use these bad arguments any longer.


By George, You’ve Got It

June 11, 2012
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Being that I’m a strong proponent of the Great Commission, I tend to focus on local and international missions work. I was fortunate to come across something rather remarkable. Being that I’m a Baptist, whenever missions is mentioned, the first name that always pops up is Adoniram Judson. He is considered the ‘father’ of the missionary movement as he along with Luther Rice’s help traveled to Burma to make disciples. But there’s something remarkably missing. Even though I will introduce someone to you, I wish to highlight the work of God in Christ more visibly.

There came a man twenty years before Judson traveled to Burma. A man who came ten years before Carey traveled to India. A man who was directly impacted by the Great Awakening. A man who was not supported by a church or mission agency. A man who introduced itinerant style preaching. A man who played a part in starting the London Missionary Society. A man who played a part in planting three churches. A man who was recognized for his gifted ability to preach and teach sound theology. And the most unknown fact about this man is that George Liele was a black man who was a former slave that held to a Calvinist theology. Leile sought after slaves, former slaves, and whites. Liele sought to make disciples. Liele was a Baptist preacher.

Liele was born in 1750 in Virginia to slave parents working for a family where the father, Henry Sharpe, was a Baptist slave owner. At the age of 23, Liele was converted to Christianity in Buckhead Creek Baptist Church and was later baptized. Soon after, he was licensed by the church and even freed by his slave owner for the purpose of preaching the gospel. Talk about sovereignty. This occurred before the Revolutionary War.

Liele preached for two years in slave quarters in Silver Bluff, South Carolina. (Note: he was preaching, not doing the seeker-sensitive bible study-talks like some recent church planters have confessed to have done.) Through his preaching, a church was birthed. It was considered the first black church in America where Liele served as elder. The church gained about 30 members in the first few years, including the conversion of his wife. This Silver Bluff church then moved to Savannah, Georgia with the movements of the British army.

While in Savannah, along with Andrew Bryan and David George, Liele built a lasting Baptist church that consisted of slaves and former slaves. Liele was not set on targeting slavery, rather he was targeted on teaching the Bible,  encouraging other blacks on the plantation to sing, and explain to them the meaning of each hymn. Where did they worship? A barn. After being officially recognized and constituted, the church was named First Bryan Baptist Church with 80 members in 1788. By 1792, membership grew to 250. By 1802, membership grew to over 700. The church also changed its name to First African Baptist Church. That year, it planted the Second African Baptist Church. One year later in 1803, they planted a third church, Ogeechee Baptist Church.

Liele’s legacy continued to grow the first black church united with the white church of Savannah to form the Savannah Association in 1802. So not only is this black Calvinist preacher planting churches, he’s forming associations with white brothers. Did someone say unity in the body?

Near the end of the Revolutionary War, Sharpe’s kids tried to re-enslave Liele and his family, but after showing his ‘freedom papers’ he was able to remain free, so in 1783 he became the first foreign missionary en route to Kingston, Jamaica. It was there in Jamaica that Liele became an itinerant preacher mimicking Whitfield’s style. After studying the lives of the slaves there, he went to private homes preaching the gospel. Liele was soon able to gather 4 folks, and purchase a piece of land about a mile from Kingston, where he built a chapel despite persecution from the whites in Kingston. He planted the First African Baptist Church of Kingston on his personal land.

The Traveling Team provided me the greatest source in helping me gather information about George Liele, so it’s only right to quote them in this last section. “Most of the church members were slaves, and therefore the finances of the church were minimal.  In order to support his family, Liele did variety of jobs including farming and driving a team of horses and wagons to carry goods from place to place.  By 1791 the new church comprised of mostly blacks and a few whites grew to over 350 members.  Because most of the people in his church could not read, each month he would read aloud a covenant that kept the commandments of God on their mind.  He also used a church bell to call the members together and give notice to slave owners that they were meeting.  George also had a vision to start a school for black children.  Liele employed a teacher to teach children of both free parents and slaves.  As his influence and church grew, so did the persecution.  Sometime before 1802, George was thrown into prison, separated from his family, and put in chains with irons on his hands and feet.  Then in 1805 Jamaica enacted a law forbidding preaching to slaves.”

“During the years of 1802 to 1834 numerous instances of brutality, sexual abuse, and murder of Christians were reported.  It was not until 1838 that all slavery was eradicated from Jamaica.  Still, by 1814 it was reported that there were 8,000 Baptists in Jamaica including mostly black slaves and some whites.  Between 1814 and 1832 the Baptist Missionary Society sent white English missionaries:  William Knibb, Thomas Burchell, and James Phillipo to help organize the Jamaica mission and saw new believers grow from 8,000 to 20,000.  Because of the influence of George Liele, the Englishmen William Knibb and Thomas Burchell returned to England to campaign to end slavery in Jamaica.  Although William Wilberforce had successfully convinced the English parliament to abolish the slave trade in 1807, they did not outlaw slavery itself.  It was not until 1833 that Parliament passed a law requiring all slaves in the entire British Commonwealth to be given their freedom. The last day of slavery for the British Empire was set to be July 31st 1838.  Liele did not live to see that day, as he died in 1828, but his influence continued to empower freedom. ”

We see a black Calvinistic Baptist preacher who affected much of local church and missionary work for both America and Baptist life, though he’s rarely recognized. We also see how Calvinism has directly impacted what we know as ‘missions’ and church planting. These things are undeniable, and I hope after reading about Leile you are more encouraged to get after the Great Commission wherever you find yourself. May all that God did through George Liele provoke us to serve.


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Yahweh Is No ‘No-Brainer’

June 9, 2012
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There are those things in life that become such a common thing to us that we engage in them under the auspices of a ‘no-brainer’ frequently. If your family took long trips, it could be common to pray a prayer before you turned on the car or got on the highway. If you were a sports player, it could be that the team would huddle up to pray a prayer. If someone you knew got hurt in an accident, someone would lead a group to pray a prayer. After all, it just seems like the ‘right’ thing to do.

If none of these scenarios fit you, then consider how the White House staff and majority of Americans all appeared to react in a unified way after 9/11 attacks. They prayed. In the great state of Oklahoma, a few years after the April 19th bombing annually, there were moments of silence, which is a fancy way of saying pray a prayer, observed throughout the state. This was even ‘allowed’ in schools! In fact, the bombing is still recognized today. I consider these the ‘no-brainer’ activities we as Americans engage in.

This has crept into the church. Now do understand that I’m not against prayer. Nothing could be further from the truth. What astonishes me is the haphazard approach to prayer and the content. The commonalities of the world seem to rival those of believers. That ought not be. They shouldn’t care as much to pray as much about whatever’s on their hearts as much as Christians. Why? Because the world doesn’t know and believe in Yahweh like Christians know and believe in Him. Let me explain.

When these scenarios are played out and prayers are prayed, the Lord’s Prayer is usual go-to-prayer that one hears recited. But I suspect most don’t know who the Lord is nor to what that prayer is pleading. If they did, I submit that the Lord’s Prayer wouldn’t be recited as often as it is. The main mistake is that the Lord’s Prayer is considered ‘the’ prayer that Jesus taught not only his disciples but every Christian to pray whenever they have to pray. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yahweh, the Lord God, is not just another name to describe a god of the Americas, western society, or world religions. Yahweh is the God of the universe. Therefore, approaching prayer with the mindset of reciting the Lord’s Prayer which speaks of Yahweh and his will being done on earth, as it is in heaven, is no small matter. Ironically I expect that most are unaware of this truth because if they were, they would pick another prayer.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

The Lord’s Prayer is pleading for Yahweh to be praised; recognizing that his way is far superior than ours; that his reign and rulership spans the entire heavens and come down to earth; that our basic survival and lives are dependent upon him; going back to his reign and rulership being the very reason this prayer is being offered. Think about that for a minute. It’s extremely hard for lost people to pray this prayer with this understanding, as it should be. It’s also really easy for believers to pray this because we understand all that this prayer pleads for to be absolutely true.

So unless we submit to the sovereignty of God in every area of our lives, which as a society we do not, we shouldn’t pray something we don’t mean. Or we’re guilty of doing the very thing James 4 spoke against, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Let us be careful to do all things with the approach of honoring Yahweh as the sovereign supreme one over our entire life.

 


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Sobering Moment

June 6, 2012
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This has been the hardest time of my life. I just want this to be over so I can take care of myself and be independent.

Did I just say that? Did that just come out of my mouth?

Well it’s too late to take it back.

This is by far the hardest blog I’ve ever posted. I suddenly realized something so ego-defying to my soul that it squelched any desire within me to talk. It left me without any motive to justify my comment. A crushing blow was struck to my heart creating a great cloud of destruction smoke. All that was left was residue and a construction sign hanging over me. I had just created the Christian no-no.

Here’s my fault: I verbally admitted what was already settled in my heart – I was tired of having to depend on God for everything; I wanted to take care of myself.

I really don’t know from where this type of thinking of stems. American dream? Household teaching? Church culture? Personal desires? I really do not know. What I do know is that once I said it, I felt miserable. Felt awful. Felt the paradoxical weight of wanting to depend on and trust in God to grant me everything pertaining to life and godliness on one hand, and wanting to provide for myself so that I can dictate what I get and how I use it pertaining to happiness and comfort.

I still cannot believe I actually said it. Sure, it’s worse that I was thinking it. But somehow I justify that ‘heart part’ as being common in our society, which is code for don’t worry about it. But this time I actually let out what I was thinking, and I was crushed. I still feel that way. Yes I wanted freedom from the Father. But now I had to honestly meditate on that truth and stomach it. That was my sobering moment.

Yes, the gospel cleanses, refreshes, and encourages the believer. Yes, Jesus is enough for all of my sins and hard-heartedness. And yes, all of my sins have been nailed to the cross. But, I was brought to bear with an intense desire to find dependence from the very one who granted me such in His Son. Sobering.

This is nothing to overlook with any ease, nor is it anything to pile onto my back and utter “woe is me.” This is a time for reflection, and I hope my sobering moment of truth can encourage you to be honest about your internal sins.


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