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Stand Up Effectively

Well I’m sure you’ve heard about Amendment 1.

And I’m sure by now you’ve seen this video.

Although I no longer live there, my home state of North Carolina voted in favor of Amendment 1.  I believe many have misinterpreted the details of the vote, nonetheless, my facebook news feed was blowing up with those in favor, those opposed, those in between, some privately in favor of it, yet agreeing to Separation of Church & State (to which the extent of is misconstrued in its context.  Separation of Church & State is more of a theory than a law).  I read many hateful comments from believers and unbelievers.  I read many inspiring comments from believers and unbelievers.  And I chose not to comment, except for this tweet,

“God is sovereign.  People aren’t.  That can’t be amended or voted on”.

Ok, so I’m not flaunting any holiness here, but that was more of a description on my feelings for that particular day.  I’m surprised the votes went the way they did and in a sense, praise God!  But in another sense, some of the “Christian” folk I know, were very proud of themselves.  Too proud.  It’s your right to vote and I’m thankful people still stand firm in their convictions upon the Word of God.  To that end, I say amen.  But that end is not an end in itself.  As a Christian, I would expect you to disagree with practicing homosexuality.  And you absolutely should.  Sexual sins are amplified in the New Testament, not done away with (as other laws).  We don’t have to pat your back for that.  Should we not expect it?  Some of my friends blew any chance of  being able to connect the grace of the gospel within the paradigm of the Law to those who need it.  I think many mistake the gospel as an extension of the Law, rather than as a fulfillment of the Law.

And this “pastor” foolishly promotes a homosexual’s death penalty while supporting an anti-abortion policy.  This is why our culture is not only reluctant to the Church, but a hater of it. “If Jesus died for this guy, and this guy is saved, I don’t want it”, they shout. Yet Jesus did die for this guy. Jesus died for liars. Jesus died for the homosexual.  Jesus died for the murderer.  Jesus died for the adulterer.  Jesus died for SIN.  Why is our country confused and the Church in a state of flux?  Because many people have forgotten the all powering medium of grace before works.  It’s nothing we did for ourselves.  And we’ve forgotten humility.  Just because you stand firm on the Word of God does not equate you to being a ruthless hatemonger to those who live lifestyles opposed to it.  This guy just made the nation aware that he is more of a coward than a soldier.  War is waging.  And some of whom we once thought were in our camp, may be fighting against us.

The bigger issue always is, in voicing your biblical convictions, do you do so with grace in view?  By all means, stand up for Truth.  But stand up effectively.

By the way, if you want to get in touch with Preacher Charles Worley to voice your own opinion about the matter, click here (edited; broken link).  You can find his e-mail address, church phone #, and church address for a personal letter.  I think he should hear from some Christians who believe that the grace of God can change people and redeem sin.

My Hope For A 1 Hour Compassion International Presentation @ NQC 2012

Even if it’s 40 minutes, and more than 70% the people stay in their seats, I’d consider it a success.

Last November, I put up this article. I suppose it created some excellent discussion regarding the pros and cons of artists pitching the Compassion International plug at concerts, and particularly at the NQC. It probably would have been a non-issue if I hadn’t heard folks so vehemently dreading the pitch to help. In fact, not only dreading…but complaining. Complaining that they have to listen to 15 minutes of artists urging them to help kids in 3rd world countries with food, water, shelter, Bibles, and children’s ministry programs. My main argument was (and still is), how could you take Christianity seriously if you feel more “Spirit-filled” listening to some quartet singing to tracks versus whining about feeling guilty that you have to sit through the Compassion pitch. Let’s say you DON’T give anything! Fine. Don’t help. But complain about it??? Isn’t this Gospel music? Emphasis on Gospel. And if it’s Southern Gospel, let’s send our money South. To Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua. Brazil. Ok, I know I just took the south part of context and may have lost you. But I’ll stick to my convictions about this one.

To clarify myself from that post in November, if you DON’T give, I would never judge your surrender and faith in the Gospel. Because maybe you DO give frequently to other organizations in addition to your tithes and offerings at your local church. I’m well aware that there are other organizations worth supporting. It’s not just Compassion or World Vision.

But to complain about it is something else entirely. I’m not generalizing fans when I make that statement. Some fans do take seriously missions and poverty and sincerely want to take their part in helping the cause. But not all fans. A little backstory to this tangent may help you see my perspective rather than thinking of me as bitter. In the fall of 2009, I began sending out support letters and even saving some of my own money to take my first trip to Haiti. Compared to other missions trips, Haiti was a relatively inexpensive trip. But I was in college, working part time at the YMCA, and doing an internship with Liberty University’s football team. So I really didn’t have that extra money lying around. I had some great people that help tremendously in my quest to raise the money. I was just a couple hundred dollars short with a month before going and on Jan 11, we had our last meeting before the trip.

And on January 12, the day after the meeting…the earthquake struck. The most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere just got more impoverished. Original plans were scrapped. We had a new mission. Our team of 14 dropped to 5. Beyond still being short some money, I had never been so ready to go anywhere in my life. I was still able to go, although I was short. There was a crisis and they needed help and everything worked out. And soon, I’ll share of my experiences there. But what happened when I came back scarred me a bit. I got home on a Saturday. And on Sunday our church was hosting a big-time southern gospel group who was “passing through” and they happened to come for just a love offering. This group is excellent and the people in the group and class-act, ministry minded individuals. But what shook me and took me so long to get past, is the fact that so many close friends and even FAMILY members could not get out their checkbooks and wallets out fast enough to drop their “love offering” into the plate as it passed. I had grown up with many of these people, built what I thought to be solid relationships with some. And yet I didn’t belt out some powerful ballad that gave half the congregation glory bumps, thus warranting so many who had not given me a dime to give to this group traveling on an air-conditioned bus about to depart for a gospel music cruise.

No. I went to Haiti without air-conditioning and slept on the floor of a building, with a t-shirt as my pillow because NBC kicked us out of our hotel room to provide worldwide news coverage. To say I was bitter about this for a period of time would be quite the understatement. I was hurt. I was saddened by their neglect to help me. The death that I experienced. The smell of thousands of dead bodies trapped under a warehouse and neighborhoods. Meeting kids without parents. Parents without kids. Wives without husbands. And the friends and family who wrote $50 checks to this group told me they couldn’t help me out because money was tight? If only I could raise the arm hair of an old lady with a blanket by singing a high C into a microphone. I wasn’t upset at the musicl. I was upset with my “church family”.

Now all of this has passed, and I’m no longer bitter. And no need to sugarcoat the reality that I had my own problems and bitterness to get rid of and deal with. I should not have felt so much anger during the aftermath. But I did. And I can’t change my former attitude about it. It’s done. But I wanted to be honest about it. And I wanted the reader to catch a glimpse into the reality that I have experienced myself. So yeah, it’s unsettling to me that southern gospel fans (or anyone) complain about the Compassion or World Vision pitch. I could absolutely throw them into the stereotype that I had given them a couple of years ago and stay bitter.  But I’m free of the bitterness.  Those dark layers have peeled away.  However, I will endorse the campaigning, and advocate to do so more effectively.

One of the first things I told our small group involved in this church planting endeavor was that we would be a missionary minded church.  Local missions and foreign missions.  I’m not just talking about giving some annual percentage to a convention.  Money is great.  But we must send also.  Whether it’s our backyard or Brazil.  At this point in time, the vast majority of our “tithes and offerings” are going elsewhere.  A little in savings, but certainly none in my pocket.

So at least, listen to the pitches.  Some may question the fact that some artists get paid to make the pitch.  Ok, so…  some artists also get paid to sing.  Is not business involved with any type of ministry?  Those arguments are ultimately lacking.  I’m not suggesting that any Christian’s compassion is lacking.  Nor am I telling anyone where to spend their money and how much.  Last November’s post was burning in my heart and some clarification was in order.  The question about “how much to give” to be a genuine follower of Christ will always remain to be, “will you sell everything you have to give to the poor?”   If you are not already, I urge you to be HIS disciple.  Not only in your giving.  But in a humble, compassionate attitude.

Hiatus Explained

I’ve received many e-mails regarding my hiatus.  Many of you have encouraged me to return to the fold.  I made my last post in January, but had already declined in writing new posts every couple of days.  It became more like once a week, and that might be generous.  I had swapped e-mails with some folks regarding a little more detail perhaps, but I’ll give you a quick rundown as to why I took a long break (if you even care…)

  1. I moved.  I do believe I had mentioned that I was previously living in central Virginia, where I was on staff at a church.  In early November, I packed my stuff and moved to East Tennessee.
  2. Arguably the biggest decision of my life was marrying my (now) spouse.  Never knew how much busier my life would be with her in it.  But worth it, it certainly is!
  3. The plans of moving to East Tennessee was tough in the initial conversations.  But in the end, it became a no-brainer.  I lived in East Tennessee previously for 11 years, met my wife in middle school, and moved away to North Carolina.  I was also very content in where I was in Virginia, enjoying (mostly) my time at Zion Baptist Church.  I had served at the church my father pastored for 2-3 years, but this was a place in where I was able to gain a little more ministry experience and further my time of theological/biblical studies.  I began to develop whatever skills I did have and (hopefully, but probably not all the time) use them to glorify Christ and encourage others while “learning the ropes”, so to speak.  It was there that I first sensed the calling on my life beyond general ministry, but “preaching/teaching/pastoring”.  But I found out that it was time to go on to something else.
  4. In Virginia, I was alone.  Lived by myself in the Pastorium.  Sure, I was busy with church folk and such, but ultimately on most nights, it was just me.  So there was plenty of time to blog.  And if you had read anything previously, I do love to write about an array of topics.  This isn’t the case as much anymore.  I do still love to write (and type, I suppose), but the time just isn’t there like it was.
  5. God has been moving in East Tennessee.  God burst through my initial balking in moving to Tennessee in a series of events that led to an increasing burning burden for the people of Kingsport, TN.  And then, God opened some doors.  It’s just a small group meeting currently, usually anywhere from 8-12 people, but we’ve been meeting since February and mostly focusing on simple discipleship, digging into Scripture, praying, and talking about things we deal with in our lives, and what Scripture has to say about it.  One guy who’s been to every meeting since we first started had gone to church sporadically throughout his life, but never really read or understood the Bible.  That first Wednesday evening, I began to preach through the book of Philippians (which we are 1 week away from ending) and he went home and read the whole book.  I had also made some references to Acts to put the intro of Philippians in context and finished the Book of Acts as well.  The next day he read the entire gospel of John.  Needless to say, spiritual growth and discipleship is on the move.   We’ve been able to build some relationships with lost folk, and are in the planning stages of being able to effectively have more impact in our community within the framework of evangelism and outreach.  In June, we will be moving our meetings from Wednesday evenings to Sunday mornings, at a local Mexican joint that has given us permission to use their premises anytime we want for NOTHING!  (Or they might just want our business).  It’s certainly a lot of work and energy, highs and lows in Church planting.
  6. Because starting something from the ground up takes a lot of work (though we will have some financial support in the coming months, but still yet…small), finding a decent job was necessary in being the husband/leader I ought to be, especially to the comfort of the in-laws.  I took the first thing that opened itself, which was substitute teaching in the public schools and I absolutely LOVED it.  But unfortunately, it doesn’t pay in the summertime.  So now I’m doing insurance.  It’s boring, and maybe not ideal, but completely temporary as we take our time in getting our ministry established.  But doing both of those things, and being a newlywed takes up more time than I originally thought it might.  And as expected, a portion of my income is always going to this new ministry endeavor.
  7. In the fall/winter, I also began taking some extra preaching courses through a Carson Newman College program on site.  Once again…takes time.
  8. What comes along with a new wife and wedding gifts is re-decorating, putting new entertainment centers together, cleaning, throwing things away, packing stuff up, new furniture, getting rid of old furniture, getting things we needed for our home, getting things we don’t need for our home.  You know, the usual married stuff.
  9. With all the blogs out there, I always thought mine was different, but there are plenty of good ones out there.  I almost felt that as small as an industry as southern gospel is, the blog market for it was being over-saturated to a degree.  (I do not mean that in a slight to anyone!)  What I mean is, regarding news and CD reviews, I was just dry.  Even without all the previous stuff reasoning in why I took a hiatus, I had no new innovative thoughts and nothing truly fresh.  I guess I could have mustered up a few things to talk about or opinions, but the feeling didn’t overwhelm me to do so enough to actually post anything.  With Daniel Mount, Brian Crout, Burke, DBM & Kyle, Coomer, Nate, Swain, Eaton, YGG and Avery, I was content being away.  Most of us usually comment and discuss with one another anyways.
  10. I promise I’m not cheap.  But (with our neighbor’s permission) we had been “bumming” internet access from said neighbor.  They were just trying to “help” the newlyweds out I suppose.  Plus, I have an iPhone now, a computer at work…she has a computer at her work…we weren’t in much rush.  But our neighbor moved.  No more internet.  And yet, it was nice not having it for awhile.  I would have really been addicted to blogging had I resorted to writing 12 points on “why I’ve taken a hiatus” on my iPhone.  That would take forever.
  11. Being an anonymous blogger does have its benefits.  But when some folks make it their quest to find out who you are, it dampens the mood a little bit.  I’ll gladly put my name to things, but there were other factors beyond the surface that led me to believe that my identity revealed was a bad thing at the time.  Additionally, it was far more entertaining for me anyways.  I don’t need the spotlight either.
  12. And lastly, I’ve been praying and pondering exactly how to make my transition back into this world.  When I do post, I’ll probably try some different things,  and hopefully the result will be something more impacting, fun, genuine, and thought provoking.  And I’ll probably make this an extra side-hatch in our new Church life.  I might even succumb to squeak out a little kind and healthy controversy now and then.  Cheers.

The Return

I will return. Details of my recent departure will be accompanied with further detail in the coming days.

Worship Parodies & The Dixie Melody Boys

Funny.  But true.

The Worship parodies have become increasingly popular and its message is relevant for everyone of us.  For those leading in congregational worship, as well as southern gospel artists, when it comes to music, and when it comes to church, it’s just as easy for the ones leading to make it routine.

I know for sure that I could do a great Southern Gospel parody.

 

And he’s back.  Southern Gospel Gardener, comments on the Dixie Melody Boys most recent recording, “The Call Is Still The Same”.

Poetic Voices, Spanking Children, and Interstate Batteries

Phil Cross & Poet Voices return.  They certainly had some quality lineups in the previous couple of decades, quality songs notwithstanding.

Download a free copy of John Piper’s new book, “Bloodlines”, highlighting the Cross in the struggle of racism.

 

Christianity Today must be the authority on “Spanking your children”.  Or not spanking them.  If you look closely, you’ll find yankeegospelgirl with some comments.

Love the fact that Interstate Batteries is excited about God’s love.  But is this new commercial the best way to communicate it?  Not because it’s cheesy (it is), but…well everything about is awful.  The jingle.  The little plot.  I guess this is the world remade by the gospel.  Looks far too unauthentic.  Not sure if I want it, at least in the animated realms.

Land of Living

One of his first performances with The Cathedrals?  Of course, there are plenty of versions swirling around Youtube of this little gem. 

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