I’ve weighed in on some of the trends of some of the young emergent pastors and their penchant for thinking that relevancy requires shock therapy, identification with the world and a lack of reverence. I came across a blog article by Greg Laurie (hardly an example of irrelevant, Bible-thumping militancy) that says what I was thinking better than I probably could have said it. Take a few moments and read it HERE.
Archive for April, 2009
I’m long overdue for a rant, so here I go!
- What do you get when you cross Perez Hilton and Rosie O’Donnell? ……….SATAN?
- Can we agree now that if Obama decides to prosecute the Bush officials who used creative though harsh tactics to get information from terrorists (like waterboarding) that we will prosecute HIM and his officials if we experience a terrorist attack during his time in office because he plays with dictators, coddles terrorists and cares more about being liked, than defending Americans?
- I like the fact that Miss California stood up to Perez Hilton and spoke her convictions about her views of gay marriage based on her faith. What I wonder is how does her “faith” influence her decision to sashay around a stage in front of millions of people (none of whom are breathlessly awaiting a stunning display of intellect when she is posed a question during the interview session) wearing an itsy, bitsy bikini?
- If I had known that Obama was going to be this awful of a President, I might have switched parties and voted for Hillary.
- Why is it that when little girls act like litte girls, we want them to act more like little boys and take math and become CEO’s and play golf? What is that when little boys act like little boys we want to drug them into submission (spelled r-i-t-a-l-i-n) so that they’ll act more like little girls?
- If there’s a recession going on unlike anything since the Great Depression, why is there a stinking line at every restaurant I try to go to?
- The bad thing about when the Red Sox play the Yankees is that only one team can lose.
- I don’t which disturbs me most, that most people have no idea how postmodernism has changed how the West thinks or that most people who should care simply don’t.
- I personally believe that the end of our individual rights and freedoms in this country will be able to be traced back to mandatory seat belt laws.
- I really can’t stand Adam Lambert on American Idol. At the same time, I sometime find myself thinking about his rendition of “Ring of Fire.”
- I think that the NBC series “Kings” is one of the most thought-provoking series I’ve seen on TV in a long time. However, they’ve started shuffling it to obscure nights and times, so that means it’s toast.
- I just received a Kindle 2 for my birthday — one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever had. If they were paying me to endorse them, I’d tell you that you need to put one at the top of your Christmas list. But they aren’t, so you’ll just have to decide for yourself.
- The meanness of the Hard Right is nothing….NOTHING…when compared to the meanness of the Radical Left. I’m just saying.
- I used to watch David Letterman regularly. Now I never watch him. Got sick of his Bush bashing and liberal junk. I’d rather read my Kindle2 or watch a re-run of Home Improvement.
- God gave South Florida an extra month of spring this year. April has been gorgeous — cool, dry and low humidity. Thank you, Lord.
- All the female ducks are missing off of our lake. That can only mean one thing. In a few weeks — DUCKLINGS! I’m saving my bread already. (I don’t eat them; I feed them. Wrong kind of duck to eat. But if they were the right kind, I would eat them.)
- My mango tree is loaded this year. I didn’t like mangos until I got a house that had a mango tree in the yard. Now I love them. I still don’t like oranges though.
- The nice thing about not being a Senior Pastor anymore is that the criticism and meanness level in my life has dropped about 99%. That feels really good. There are a lot of things I do miss — but not that part. At all.
- I have a sense that somewhere, someone is already trying to figure out how to get Obama’s face on Rushmore. I need to go visit it before they do.
- When you live near the beach in South Florida, the only time you actually go to the beach is when someone who doesn’t live near the beach comes to visit you and asks you to take them to the beach.
- My son and I play a new game. On Sunday’s, when we go out to eat — he picks out the old school pastors and I pick out the young hip pastors — in the restaurant by how they dress and wear their hair. We’re both always right.
- When I go to a Chinese Buffett, I can’t help but “hear” the names of the dishes I read on the little dish tags in my head like someone is saying them with a Chinese accent. When I get to the the platter of “Vanilla Wafers”, I always giggle outloud just a little. My family finds this very annoying.
- Of all the people I follow on Twitter (about 20 or so), I find Al Mohler the most amusing, interesting and unique. He twitters about everything and he really cracks me up sometimes. (Shameless plug: you can follow me @DanBurrell)
- There are few things that I’ve done in my life that gives me more pleasure than to hear about, follow and check in on the dozens of guys who are now in the ministry who were once a member of a church I pastored or are former students. I’m proud of ALL those guys.
OK…enough for today. I’ve gotten most of it out of my system. Until next time…..
Here’s a great article from one of my favorite websites. It’s entitled, “Porn and Paper Pastors” and it’s worth the five minutes it will take you to read it carefully. You can find it HERE.
One of the most misused and misunderstood words in the English language these days is the term “Democracy”. Few people understand it and fewer people know how it is most wisely applied. For example, you may be surprised to know that the United States government is not a pure “democracy”. Our Found Fathers, in their Scripture-inspired wisdom, recognized that a pure democracy holds the potential for mob rule and thus structured our government to be a Constitutional Republic found on democratic principles. The distinctive difference is that in a Constitutional Republic, the “people” elect representatives who have a responsibility to establish frameworks, set priorities, gather information and make decisions. In a democracy, everyone has an equal voice without regard to the experience, character, maturity, intellect, wisdom or any other factor usually required for one to become a leader or even a person of substance. Even in a Constitutional Republic or many other forms of democracy, if a nation’s populace isn’t mature, moral and educated, they run the danger of electing leadership unqualified or ill-suited for public office. The Gaza Strip, several African nations, Venezuela and multiple other nations would be evidence of that. (This reality does not bode real well for our own nation either.)
The American Experiment has proven the wisdom of putting leaderhsip in place that is empowered to act in our best interests, but yet remains accountable to the citizenry.
If this has indeed worked so well in government, my question is, “Why have so many people abaonded the practice in that most intimate and sacred institution — the family?” You don’t have to look or listen long to see that millions of American family have bought into the drivel that a home schould be run like a pure democracy with each member of the family, from dad to preschooler, getting a voice and a vote. The results has been chaos and bedlam and the consequences are often dangerous.
I did not grow up in a democratic home — I would say that we could best be described as a benevolent dicatorship. Mother leaned toward the benevolent side of that term. Dad? Well, let’s just say that he had the spiritual gift of dictatorial decision-making. When dad spoke, he did so with authority and confidence and seldom waited for a consensus. Thankfully, mom and dad were so close, that she often softened his rough edges and communicated his decisions with grace and compassion. (I guess you could say that she was his “press secretary”.) Either way, it worked. We didn’t always like the edicts emanating from my father’s throne, but, then again, we never expected to have a voice in the process — so we simply obeyed.
He truly was a tyrant. We didn’t get to choose whether or not we ate our green beans. He said, “No green beans; no dessert” and that was the law. So we gagged them down and washed away the taste with strawberry shortcake. We weren’t allowed to negotiate our curfews. Arguing and badgering would only results in an EARLIER curfew. Cleaning our rooms or mowing the grass was not optional and subject to appeal to our union representative. Our dictator just informed us that part of being a family meant sharing in family responsibilities.
Lest I make my dad out to be too much of a tyrant, let me say that he balanced his autocratic style with plenty of expressive love and affection, a close relationship with our mother and a strong Christian commitment to Scripture and the local church. As a result, while we weren’t the perfect family, it truly was a mostly peaceful and orderly home and all three of us who grew up in it are now married to our original spouses, raising kids, attending church and committed to our form of undemocratic rule in our homes.
Kids NEED parents. Parents should not shirk from their responsibility to provide standards and correction and guidance and discipline. Your children have enough “friends” and “buddies” so don’t be too concerned if you’re not “one of the gang”. Don’t worry if your poll numbers are down from time to time. You aren’t running for re-election. It’s more important to be respected than popular and sometimes you must choose being loved later to being liked today. Weak parents produce confused kids who often lack a moral compass. The parent who makes his or her decision subject to popular vote or who vacillates in the fact of whining and fit-pitching, does their kids a tremendous disservices and invites disorder and disobedience.
Parents need to grow backbones and lead their children as much we they love them. They may not always appreciate it no, but one day, the wil most certainly rise up and call you blessed!
Ah….flannelgraph. The memories that those flock-backed cutouts of Jesus, Mary and the Disciples bring back for those of us who were once evangelical kidlets sitting breathlessly at the feet of some dear Good News Club leader or during VBS. So simple, yet it was to my generation what Veggie Tales is to this generation — without the armless vegetables and schlocky humor.
Do you know that flannelgraph is still a vital gospel communication tool in parts of the world? In fact, I’m collecting as much as possible to send to C uba within the next two weeks.
Would you check your Sunday school supply room, attic, basement, garage or other storage area and see if you have any that you would be willing to donate? If not, would you be willing to purchase a set like THIS one — http://tinyurl.com/CubaFlannel or you could locate a smaller set online or a different kind and send those to me as well.
Send your Flannelgraph backgrounds, figures and stories to:
New Testament Baptist Church
6601 NW 167th
Miami, FL 33015
These will be going to areas where only Spanish is spoken, so if there are story books with them, please use the Spanish editions. We can use flannelgraph figures and backgrounds that do not include the books also. There are many needs in C uba and the Lord keeps opening new doors of opportunity there. Please pray for our brothers and sisters there and any help you can provide would be a tremendous blessing.
Several have asked when and where I am preaching this Sunday and there was a schedule change this week. I’m preaching the 8:30 service at our Dade Campus and the 11:30 service at our Broward Campus. We had three wonderful Good Friday services at all three campuses of New Testament Baptist Church. We have a total of thirteen services scheduled for this Three-Day Easter Week-end. Come join us!
We’ve got a busy week-end planned visiting some family and friends in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties in addition to the Easter schedule.
If you want to keep up with me and enjoy the occasional 160 character rant via Twitter, you can link with me @DanBurrell. If you aren’t on Twitter yet, go to www.twitter.com.
He is Risen!
If you haven’t read the Newsweek article by Jon Meacham that I cited in my previous post, much of what I’m about to write will not make sense. You may read “The End of Christian America” by clicking HERE.
Jon Meacham asks outloud in last week’s issue of Newsweek, “Have we reached the end of Christian America?” To some extent, he may be asking a question that has largely already been answered. One only has to spend time among the population today or view the religious melting pot that has become our cities to realize that Christianity — as “the” monolithic faith system in America that it once was — is rapidly become one among many. Without a doubt, it is still the dominant one, but even among those who would lay claim to the identifier “Christian” it means less and less. I was told recently of a community interfaith service held in small town Binghamton, NY designed to remember 14 people killed by a madman during which the name of Jesus was not invoked even a single time. In today’s pluralistic hyper-sensitivity to tolerance, the distinctive of Jesus as “THE (only) Way/Truth/Life” is simply too narrow and dogmatic to be acceptable by most, it would seem.
So without debating the thesis of Meacham’s article, what does the evangelical church do in response to the reality that is “religiousity” in American today. Indeed, there is as much hostility against evangelical Christianity as there is fervency for it in many quarters. What follows is a mix of ideas, observations and thoughts….
1. We need to look within our borders for missionary activity.
Simply put, we have a new mission field to consider and it is us. And in particular, it is the part of “us” that lives in the Northeast — the land of the Pilgrims, Puritans, Moody, Wesley and Whitefield. I was told recently that there are 60 Southern Baptist churches in New York alone looking for pastors. Few young people “dream” of moving to Massachussetts to start a church. Could there be many places harder to start an evangelical church with a Biblical worldview that leans toward a conservative philosophy than say, Vermont? New York City? Boston? Connecticut? Maine?
There are a handful of small Bible colleges in the Northeast dedicated to equipping church planters, pastors and missionaries — Davis College in Binghamton. Boston Baptist in Boston. Word of Life Bible Institute in Upstate New York. But they struggle in recruiting young people from the hotbeds of evangelicalism in the South, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest who are willing to go to the cold (in every sense of that word) Northeast for a life of ministry. But indeed, it is a mission field worthy of investment and attention and individuals and churches should consider a place to send money, prospective students and other support.
Like it or not, the Northeast may be the most influential area of our country in terms of education, politics, economics and literature. It’s closest rival would be Southern California and its music and movie industries. We need to recapture this area with the Gospel.
2. We must re-emphasize the Supremacy of the Word of God
Someone once asked me what I believed was the most important theological issue in the Universe. In a phrase — it is the Word of God and in that I have a dicotomous emphasis - The Infallability of Scripture and the Sufficiency of Christ. Both the Written Word and the Living Word must be pre-eminent in our faith or we have nothing.
Al Mohler, one of my favorite authors and thinkers, said this in the Meacham article: “The post-Chrisitan narrative is radically different; it offers spirituality, however defined, without binding authority.” The fundamental question for every Worldview comes down to this: “Who’s the Boss?” All of theology and philosophy are built on that question. Not “Who am I?” or “Why am I here” — but “Who is in Charge”. Whom or what we accept as Truth is that on which our entire nature of being is hinged.
Philosophy and Theology are not nearly as complicated as we make them. It is fairly simply and the crux of Worldviews is found in the “Book of Beginnings” — Genesis. The questions with which Adam and Eve grappled in the Garden of Eden are still the questions of today. “Is there really a God and does He really matter?” “Can we trust God to tell us the Truth or is there something that He is holding back from us that we really need to know Truth?”
Bottom line — Either God matters and is telling us the Truth or God is irrelevant and can’t be trusted. You must decide. AND you must give it more than lip-service. Many people claim to believe in God and His Word, but in the end, their actions indicate something entirely different with every choice that they make. Wiersbe said, “Our behavior is a reflection of our beliefs.” Don’t tell me what you believe….show me.
Today’s evangelical — let alone the man who makes no pretense of being a “believer” — generally chooses a lifestyle, a values system, a course of direction that indicates that God isn’t really to be trusted and we are the ultimate authority for what is right or wrong. The implications of that are huge.
3. Genuine Christians will have to decide Who or What will define their values.
American Christians are flabby and undisciplined. For too long, we have enjoyed a government that largely reflected many — if not most — of our values. Since Darwinism and the Public Education System emerged in the late 1800’s however, we have seen a steady and progressive movement away from the core Biblical worldview that was held and taught by the Puritans who founded this nation. Even non-Christians like Jefferson and Franklin at least held an appreciation for the Absolutist Worldview of those who held Scripture as the Standard for Truth.
Not so today. Christians are often difficult to differentiate from non-Christians in how we think, how we spend our money, what we find entertaining, how we amuse ourselves, our sexual values, our integrity and business ethics, the sanctity of our marriage vows and how we identify with the world around us. In some cases, people who make no pretense of being an orthodox believer in the values of Scripture conduct themselves with more consistency and integrity than those who plaster their faith statements on their T-shirts and car bumpers.
Thus the church must adjust its mission to teach things like Biblical literacy, theological discipleship, a Biblical worldview (philosophy), practical Christian living and Biblical discernment as it is now a counter-culture mission — often even within our own churches.
4. Evangelical Christianity must resist theological Heglianism.
In brief, Georg Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel was a theological philosopher who postulated (among other things) that Truth could be found by the impact of two opposing ideas. The “Thesis” would collide with the “Anti-Thesis” to produce a “Synthesis” which, having survived the violent clash of ideas would be embraced as “Truth”.
Today’s virtue of “Tolerance” utilizes that premise in many ways by asking us to “put aside” or compromise our distinctives for the sake of unity or harmony. We are challenged to discard the inconvenient truths of our faith for the sake of unity, harmony and tolerance. The Ecumenical result of this is a faith that is born of a sense of “spirituality” and not from a foundation of doctrine. This transient form of faith takes the pleasant and leaves behind the difficult. It “cherry-picks” values held in common among various faiths, but neglects the roots that produced the fruit. It is Oprah’s spirituality and Madonna’s Kaballah and the Dali Lama’s Noble Path and the earthy karma of Hinduism all rolled up into one. Dogmatism is not a virtue, but a vice. Absolutes do not provide a foundation, but are an example of intolerance. Not believing is as valued as believing.
Jesus did not come to bring peace to man. He came to bring peace with God. His way is narrow (narrow is the gate), His claim was exclusive (no man comes to the Father but by ME) and His authority was Supreme (I and My Father are One.) No room for compromise in His message. Indeed, while compromise is the lifeblood of politics; it is the deathknell of theology.
5. American’s Hope is NOT Political
I am a political junkie. I enjoy the drama of politics the way some people follow sports. Every other November is my “Olympics”. However, we have to get away from the idea that there is a political solution to the moral crisis in this nation. Our national values are generally reflected in Washington — not dependent upon Washington. As our country moves deeper into the era of “post-Christianity” we have to come to grips with the idea that Washington has moved from being a shelter for us to possibly becoming an adversy against us. But this does not negate the soul autonomy which is assigned to each believer and what he or she does with truth whether or not a government declares it legal.
No one can make my daughter get an abortion in this country — yet, I wonder how many Christian parents have looked the other way as their daughter (or wife) went to take an innocent life because to have allowed it to continue would have been embarrassing or inconvenient. I don’t need the Supreme Court to tell me that abortion is murder. No one needs to keep drugs illegal in order for me to avoid them any more than the legal sale and consumption of alcohol has compelled me to take even one single drink in my entire life. I don’t HAVE to watch smutty TV shows, I am not required to visit pornographic websites, I am not compelled to use vile language in order to appreciate “free speech” and I don’t need to buy a gun if that would be dangerous for me to do so. My values are linked to Scripture, not legislation. But when the choice is left to me, it does require me to THINK and DISCERN and to exercise SELF CONTROL.
Will I continue to vote for people who reflect my values? You betchya. But you know, elected office has a way of changing people, so I’d better not depend on them to keep me free, safe or holy. In Meacham’s article he quoted journalist and commentator, Cal Thomas, who said, “No country can be truly ‘Christian’. Only people can.” We elect what we value, what we deserve, what we trust. Look at whom we have put in power and that will tell you much about how we think.
That’s enough of my rambling for today. Feel free to disagree or extend your own thoughts. I’m not discouraged about Christianity in America. Where there is much darkness, the smallest light makes a bigger difference.
Below is a link to an article in this week’s edition of Newsweek which needs to be read and discussed by evangelicals, fundamentalists and fundagelicals. There’s a lot of truth in this, a lot to be considered and some things to be debated. Al Mohler has a long been one of my favorite thinkers (see his blog on my links list to the right) and his input into this article is key to its content. I hope to add my thoughts on this tomorrow sometime.
Read “The End of Christian America“.
More to come.