Monthly Archives: April 2013

Kicked Out and Comin’ Out – This is My Father’s World

The top 2 news stories in the wide world of sports yesterday surprised me.

The NBA Playoffs are going strong – but that wasn’t the headline.

The Lakers got swept by the Spurs, ending their atrocious season – who cares?

Major League Baseball is in full swing (sorry, but yes – pun intended) – yawn.

Seth Pearson hits 6 homers in his back yard against his dad’s pitching – big deal.

Nick Saban admits that Auburn is by far a superior football powerhouse – blah.

Nope.

These weren’t the headlines. And for any U of A fans reading this right now – you can breathe. The last one was a poor attempt at a bad joke (a guy can dream can’t he?)

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The top 2 news stories yesterday AND this morning on ESPN.com (these days, it’s big time if you stay at the top of the headlines 2 days straight!)?

Jason Collins Comes Out” and “Jets Cut Tim Tebow After One Season

That’s right. An NBA center says he’s gay and arguably the most renowned Christian in sports is released from his responsibilities.

Holy Smokes Batman. . . Weird. . . Gives me the willies.

When I go to ESPN.com, I want to read about home runs and slam dunks and Tiger Woods and Auburn Football.

What are we to think about this? A couple of thoughts. . .

1. I better be armed and ready to talk to my boys about heavy stuff. 

Not when they are 18. Now. When they are 7 and 6. They can read. They like ESPN. They like to ask questions (okay, they like to ask 20 million questions an hour). I better be ready to help them and equip them with truth and courage.

Need some help, dads? Read this, this, and/or this.

2. Like it or not, this is where we are sent. 

On the one hand, a notorious Christian is released from an NFL team after one season. On the other hand, an NBA center comes out. I hope I’m wrong, but I can almost guarantee rampant arguments will be made why it would be wrong to ‘single out’ Jason Collins for his sexuality, while practically nothing will be said about Tebow being ‘singled out’ because of the press he brought with him based on his Christian convictions. Jesus followers, the goal here is NOT to get all in a wad about this sort of thing. This is just reality. Jesus said it would be like this. He’s not surprised. The goal is to recognize the world we live in and go after it with truth and love. As the Father sent Jesus, so He sends us. It doesn’t matter if we like it.

3. The Church MUST to wake up.

We must stop reading things like this and take up our Sunday School time talking about how bad the world is. We must stop giving the impression that we hope all the ‘bad guys’ burn in hell while we sing 1948 hymns from the ‘good ole days.’ Let me give us all a quick newsflash. . . are you ready? Here goes: Lost people are going to act like lost people! Can you believe it? Our job is not to judge them – but love them with the truth. Perhaps instead of us talking about how bad the world is (which always, conveniently, makes us feel better about ourselves doesn’t it?) we should spend more time strategizing how WE should change so the Gospel and the church would be more appealing and attractive.

We know the world needs a change. But they aren’t comin’ to us for help. Many are D-O-N-E. Could the problem be – not that lost people are gonna sin (can you imagine?), but that church people aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to remove all obstacles for people who might be turning to God?

Question: When was the last time you read the news headlines and thought, “What do I need to be willing to change so that the world might actually hear that God does love them?”?

I’m beginning to think the problem ain’t lost people. It’s us.

Holy Smokes Batman.

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Now THAT’s a Good Question!!!!

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Last week I was asked a question that I am guessing many Christians wonder about.

Ready? Here goes. . .

Is it wrong for a Christian to be cremated?

Now THAT is a good question!!!!

Opinions on this subject are rampant. . . and S-T-R-O-N-G!!!

I’ve known stout followers of Jesus who have had their loved ones cremated and desire the same for their own body.

I’ve known stout followers of Jesus who have adamantly opposed having themselves or their loved ones cremated.

My own family has even found itself hotly debating this topic. On a former blog, I wrote about it here. Nothing says ‘Christmas with Family’ like cremation at the breakfast table:

“Can you pass the bacon? It looks extra crispy.”

“Speaking of crispy, what do you think about your father and me being burned to smitherines when we die?”

“Never mind – don’t pass the bacon – not hungry.”

Want to get your mom off your back at the next family gathering? Bring up cremation in front of the whole family.

Christians debate it. Non-Christians debate it. Republicans and Democrats debate it like Obamacare. Auburn and Alabama fans debate it like National Championships (Ask an Auburn fan how many National Championships Alabama has. . . then ask an Alabama fan. . . then put them in a room together and ask both of ’em. . . whoah.)

Think about it: it is very difficult not to defend something when your great-great-great-grandmother is now resting in a vase above the fire place next to Aunt Flossie and Uncle Ding-Ding. Bless her heart. At the same time, it is difficult to think about a current loved one (or yourself!) being burned, reduced to ashes.

So, “Is it wrong for a Christian to be cremated?”

The reason – I think – this is such a good question and such a debated topic is simply because the Bible does not give any clear commands one way or another on the issue.

There is no, “Thou shalt not burn and be put in an urn.”

There is no, “Be buried in a very expensive box in a plot you won after fighting over it with a fellow church member.” [Yes, it happens. Go visit a small church sometime that has a graveyard right beside where they eat ‘dinner on the grounds.’ You’ll see.]

So every time you and I talk about something that has no clear directive in Scripture – we need to really be careful in how we express opinions and convictions. To put it another way: It is never wise to make a ‘live or die’ issue (pun intended) out of something where Scripture is silent.

Based on this, I am going to say ‘NO’ it is not wrong for a Christian to be cremated. But I do want to very QUICKLY follow that up to say that it IS wrong for a Christian not to AT LEAST think through some biblical pointers on the issue. Though the Bible gives no clear directives, it does offer some pointers that get us thinking why body burial has been historically a Christian practice.

Let me offer you 4 biblical pointers to guide you in your thinking on the subject:

1. ‘Dead’ Christians are really ‘sleeping.’ 

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 11:11; and 1 Corinthians 15:51.

A ‘dead’ follower of Jesus is, in a sense, just taking a nap. They’ll wake up when called for.

2. Christians deal with death differently. 

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and 2 Corinthians 6:10.

Jesus people don’t do death like the world does. We are weird. . . and for good reason.

3. A believer’s ‘dead’ body will be reunited and made new.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Can Jesus raise ashes to life and make them back into a body? Yes. He can, and I believe will for many. But notice that, for Paul and the early church, bodily resurrection from the ground was expected.

4. Much like baptism, a Christian’s body burial is symbolic and hope-filled.

Read Romans 6:1-4.

Jesus was buried and placed in a tomb, bodily. God raised Him from the dead, bodily. He was the first fruits of all who would come after Him. Why do we baptize by immersion? To picture this. Why have Christians historically been buried bodily? To picture the Gospel. Russell Moore suggests “that our Christian burial plots preach the same gospel that our Christian pulpits d0.”

Is it wrong for a Christian to be cremated?

Recap:

1. There is no direct biblical command one way or another on the issue.

2. NO – I do not believe it is wrong/sinful for a Christian to be cremated.

3. At the very least – HOWEVER – Christians need to be  biblically informed and seriously think through some of the pointers.

In thinking about the issue, it would be wise to ask yourself:

(a.) Why do I want want to be cremated?

(b.) How does that line up with biblical pointers on burial?

What do you think? What would you add here? What would you remove?

Got any bacon?

[FOR FURTHER READING:Russell Moore has written helpful articles on this subject here, here, and here. There is no way I can even BEGIN to improve on his work. It would serve you well to read all three. However, if you are short on time, read this one first.]

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Free Flow Friday!!!!

You betcha.

What could be better than Friday?

Well, Free stuff on Fridays is better than just Friday.Unknown-1

What’s even better than Free stuff on Fridays?

Free stuff on Fridays that might make the rest of your life better.

Here goes. . . Enjoy!

#1. I Completely Disconnected for 10 Days. . . Here’s What Happened

“I realized how much richer and more satisfying any experience is when it’s not interrupted. . . . What grew each day was my capacity for absorbed focus.”

 

#2. Top 10 Ways To Ruin Your Child’s Imagination

 

“Never allow children to organize their own worlds of exploration of that which is interesting or challenging—replace the spontaneous and child initiated and replace it with 7 days of structured activities controlled by others and a timetable that leaves no scope for exploration, time wasting, and contemplation.”

 

#3. Top 10 Actual Stories of Preaching Distractions

 

“During a point of real emphasis in the sermon, a choir member let go of a huge sneeze. That was distracting enough, but she failed to cover her face, and a huge pile of mucus landed on the shoulder of the preacher’s coat. He didn’t realize it at the time. Many in the choir had to leave as they couldn’t stop laughing.”

[Editors Note: Please do not try any of these. . . especially #10. I would NOT recover.]

 

#4. Little Moments, High Calling

“These are the moments God made parents for. You are God’s agents on the watch. You have been given an incredibly high calling. You are God’s instrument of help and preparation as your children mature out of the home and into God’s world. These moments make your life worthwhile. Here you will make a contribution that is worth infinitely more than any career or financial accomplishment.”

 

#5. The Real Costs of Saying ‘No’

“Perhaps the real reason that we fail to say ‘No’ is that we are too concerned about letting others down. Bill Cosby once said ‘I make it my goal to please one person every day. Today is not your day.  And tomorrow is not looking too good either.'”

 

Oh yeah – by the way – Have you signed up for the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast coming to El Dorado???? Let me give you 10 reasons you need to right NOW!!!

 

 

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10 Reasons to Attend the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast

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Friday, May 10th – FBC is excited to be a host site for the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast!!!

It will be held in the ‘2Fifty2’ building on Main Street across from the Main Building from 8 am to 5 pm.

Check out more details here.

Register you and/or your whole team here.

Why should you and your team participate????

1. It’s in your own backyard. 

Main Street in El Dorado. Seriously, it’s right here!

2. A chance to get out of the office. 

It’s on a Friday – come on, boss man – you know you want to!

3. An incredible opportunity to grow as leaders.

Come on, boss man – you know your team needs help!

4. You won’t find a cheaper rate. 

Seriously, look around on the site. You won’t find a cheaper rate out there of someone hosting this event.

5. We’re eating Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for Lunch. 

Yes. We are. And it’s included in the price (go back and read #4).

6. You get a really cool journal and pen. 

Who doesn’t like cool journals with ‘Chick-Fil-A’ written on ’em?

7. The speaker line-up is First Class. 

Andy Stanley. Coach K. Jack Welch. John Maxwell. Henry Cloud. Condaleeza Rice. David Allen. LCDR Rorke Denver. Sanya Richards-Ross. Need I say more? Bosses – CEO’s – Presidents – YOU WANT YOUR TEAM TO HEAR THIS STUFF!!!!

8. The snacks will be GREAT. 

Okay, so I don’t know what they will be yet – but who doesn’t love to snack while watching a big screen?

9. You won’t get pressured to coming to FBC. 

Yes, I will be there. But not because I want to get you to my church (that would be great with me, but that’s not why I am having this). I want to learn. I want to meet you and learn from great speakers. There will be no card for you to fill out for FBC. There will be no push for you to attend church on May 12th. There will not be a deacon at your door with a packet of info. about FBC before you get home Friday night. There will be no invitation for you to repent of eating too many snacks. Just come and learn about leadership – that’s it.

10. Weigh the options – it’s a NO BRAINER!

Sit in the office on Friday and wish you and your team were getting better?

Or, sit at the feet of some of the greatest leaders in our country actually learning how to get better?

Come on. Go ahead. Register here. You’ll be glad you did.

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5 Ways to Be ‘Happy, Happy, Happy’ with Your Spouse

Last Sunday, I preached on marriage. Getting ‘unstuck’ in marriage.

I admitted that Katie and I go through seasons of marriage ‘yuck.’ Though I have no scientific evidence to back this up, I am certain every marriage does.

Mood swings (males too!). Stress. Kids. Money. Sin. You name it. Life happens.

But we are commanded to actually ENJOY our spouses. Seriously, we are. I hope you’re sitting down – this may come as a shock:

God wants you to be happy in your marriage. . . happy, happy, happy.

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Yeah, I know. It’s weird isn’t it? God actually wanting there to be some sho’ nuff joy between you and your ’til death do you part’ person? For real.

Read it for yourself here. And here. And here and here. If you’re over 18 and/or married, go ahead and read it in all of it’s context here (you betcha and you’re welcome).

So, if you’re NOT enjoying your spouse – you are disobeying Scripture. To put it simply: NOT ENJOYING YOUR SPOUSE IS SIN!

How can we be ‘Happy, Happy, Happy’ with our Spouses? Let me suggest 5 ways to get you started:

1. Acknowledge it’s OKAY to be happy in marriage. 

– Don’t go on to # 2 until you have done this. IT IS OKAY!!!! God wants it for you.

2. Laugh together. 

– At your kids.

– At each other.

– While watching Duck Dynasty [We ALL, by the way, could learn alot from Phil and Kay.]

3. Get a babysitter and GO OUT ON A DATE!!!!

– Not just one time, but once a week – or AT LEAST twice a month (don’t talk back to this computer – why not do it? Really – why not?).

– Schedule an overnight ‘get away’ once a quarter. To Little Rock. To Smackover. To Earle. To Toad Suck. Anywhere. Just GO!

4. Get Outside – TOGETHER!

– Pull some weeds or plant some flowers.

– Play tennis or golf (wanna laugh at each other???).

– Go on a picnic (who doesn’t love a good PB&J outdoors?)

5. Put the kids to bed and . . . TALK.

– You’d be amazed at how much you’d actually enjoy your spouse if you would turn off the TV/Facebook and talk to him or her for a few minutes before bedtime.

That person you married? Yeah, they’re still there. Life happens. Enjoy it WITH your spouse.

What are some other ways you and your spouse work on being ‘happy, happy, happy’?

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Now THAT’s a Good Question!!!

Okay, so this question was not asked last week.

In fact, I haven’t really been asked any real good ‘theologically rich,’ ‘make your brain explode,’ ‘get ready to be blown away in wonder with my answer as I wax eloquently to make myself look like I am not from Alabama and am really smart’ type of questions in recent days.

So, bring ’em on!!!!

Oh wait, I take that back. . .

I have been asked, “do you want fries with that?” at Chick-Fil-A; and “do you want a car wash?” by a computer at the gas pump; and “you’re not gonna wear that are you?” by my wife; and “leave room for cream?” at Starbucks.

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But I do get this question ALL the time from church people:

“What kind of Bible translation do you use?”

This is actually a great question to consider – not to know what I use, necessarily, but to know how you can best personally study the Bible for yourself.

To answer the question, I preach out of the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible and currently use the New Living Translation (NLT) for personal devotions.

Why the ESV? I have written about this more in depth here, here, and here. The bottom line is, currently, I use it for preaching purposes simply because of its accuracy.

Why the NLT? Simple: EASY TO READ! Though not as accurate as the ESV, it flows a lot smoother and is just plain simple to read.

I have found that if I stick to using one translation all the time, I will ‘tune out’ more often and – in my mind – begin to predict what the passage is going to say. When I ‘mix up’ the translations, I am more apt to read something fresh, thus paying closer attention.

What are some of the most accurate translations?

English Standard Version (ESV)

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

New King James Version (NKJV)

What are some of the ‘easy to read’ translations?

New International Version (NIV)

New Living Translation (NLT)

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

My suggestion for you?

Get yourself a version from each of the lists above and keep ’em both handy as you read and study (or, you can just go to Bible Gateway and get a whole bunch of translations for free!).

While you’re at it, go ahead and get a copy of this version to keep everything in proper perspective.

I’m serious. Get it. You will be very glad you did.

Now. Let me ask YOU a question:

What translation is your favorite? Why?

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Free Flow Fridays!

It. Is. FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!Unknown-1

Bless the Lord, OH MY SOUL; and ALL that is within me – BLESS HIS HOLY NAME!!!

I love Fridays.

I don’t care what Joel says – I’m glad every day ain’t Friday – if so, I wouldn’t love Fridays near as much.

Here on the blog, it’s Free Flow Fridays – that means simply this: It’s Free. It’s Stuff Flowin’ through My Mind. And it’s Friday.

Here we go. . .

#1. How Loud Should Our Church Music Be? 

“So what’s the perfect volume? In this case, Disney has the answer. Disney seems to have a knack for managing expectations and providing the best user experience on the planet. They can teach us a thing or two about worship.”

What do you think? Agree?

 

#2. Great Kids Have Parents Who Seem to do This Well

“Secretly (until now), I’ve noticed a common theme amongst well-adjusted kids. The theme seems to be this: Great kids come from families in which parents are real about their shortcomings. They come from families who live and believe in grace.”

How are you doing mom and dad?

 

#3. 7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Ministry From an Affair

“I spend lots of time with my wife. The best defense is a good offense. The most certain way to protect my heart is to strengthen my marriage. Cheryl and I spend most of our leisure time together.”

Which one do you need to work on most, guys?

 

#4. Media is the Number One Influence in the West

“While I’m not celebrating this fact, I’d much rather see the Church as the #1 influence in our culture. I do hope that this conversation helps us better understand the culture in which we live so that we may more effectively influence it with the Gospel.”

How can we use this for Christ’s sake here in El Dorado?

 

#5. Boys Allowed in Girls Restrooms 

“This means that boys who say they identify as girls can use the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa. It also means that girls who want to play on boys’ teams, and boys who want to play on girls’ teams, will be allowed to do so. The key will be their “gender identity” — what sex they identify as — and not their birth certificate.”

This is the world God has sent us into with the Gospel – the only thing that makes us whole.

 

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