Archive for March, 2006

Dressing For Church

Read this slowly and patiently. Stop and make your choice after each phase. Now, open your clothes closet and make your selection for each of these occasions.

You have just been invited to visit the President in the Oval Office. What will you select to wear? Think it though and select your attire. Got it? Next.You are going to an important social event hosted by an very influential member of the community. Choose your apparel.

There is a dance in a major hotel and you have been invited. Pick your clothes.You are going to a banquet with a friend who is the honoree. What looks good for the event?

It is Saturday afternoon and your favorite team is playing its biggest rival. You will be a guest on the 50 yard line. What looks good for the occasion? Look around and you will see a lot of folks styling and profiling. The “frats” look sharp.It is Sunday morning and your are going to church. How will you dress?

At which event did you dress most upscale? At which did you dress most downscale?In 1975 I authored a book in which I said I wanted a church where an affluent lady immaculately attired and a youth in a sweat shirt and jeans could sit side by side and be comfortable because neither was concerned about the attire of the other. The background of the appeal was to make those unable to dress up feel welcome and comfortable.

Some ministers today put so much emphasis on dressing down that it makes those who still believe in “Sunday clothes” feel uncomfortable. The reason for grunge on Sunday is said to be in order to make everybody feel at ease. Not everyone does. If it doesn’t matter what you wear why is it considered a badge of honor to dress down. In the long history of the church this is the first generation in which there is a segment that seems to think the kingdom will be brought in if enough people dress down.

A professor at Fuller Seminary in California says he can look at the calendar of activities of a church and tell within 5 years the age of the pastor. The premise being we tend to program for our own interests. Likewise, today you can look at the attire of the pastor and staff and know what clientele they are trying to attract. Why no the full spectrum?

Neither wardrobe option is necessarily better than the other. By stressing one over the other some persons are being excluded. Unfortunately, in many churches those who still believe Sunday worship deserves their best are the outcasts. There is a mutual meeting ground —- our best. We would wear it to any of the events listed above. Why not worship? What would be so good about dressing down for a visit with the President or any of the other noted social occasions?

If grunge is a person’s best so be it. Wear it comfortably. However, if a person can do better it is still considered a show of respect in many circles to wear your best in worship.

Last question, why not wear your best? For what are you saving it? To whose house would it be better to wear it than to God’s house?

Why Katrina And Other Natural Disasters

Why God, why Katrina? Having excluded God from the public arena some now want to summons Him to the court of pubic opinion and demand from Him an explanation of why such things as Katrina happen. A sparrow can’t fall to the ground without these persons blaming God.

Like Paul, “I count not myself to apprehended.” That is, I don’t have all the answers. That is the understatement of the day. If we want answers to spiritual questions we have to go to the source of such understanding, the Bible.It teaches a perfect God created a perfect world. In the sphere called planet Earth He placed the crowning glory of His handiwork, mankind.

The first being Adam and Eve. In His sovereign will He gave them a free will. In exercising that free will they disobeyed God. This disobedience is called “sin” and resulted in what is called “the fall of mankind.” The result of this fall impacted everything from mankind’s relationship with God to the ecosystem. Summarily, the perfect world experienced imperfection brought about by the actions of mankind.

In the New Testament book of Romans chapter 8 this result is called “imperfection.” The Greek word also means “to decay.” In that same chapter it is also called “the bondage of corruption.” The New English Bible translates what followed as “Up to the present, we know, the whole created universe groans in all its parts as if in the pangs of childbirth.”God created the cosmos, meaning order. Mankind’s actions have resulted in chaos, the opposite of cosmos.

In spite of our destructive impact on all of the universe God still has a recovery plan. In that same chapter in Romans it is said, “We know all things work together for good to those who love the Lord…”That does not hint that everything that happens is good. Obviously not all things that happen are good. What it means is that in everything, everything, that happens God is busily at work to bring the good out of it. Momentarily and taken alone some things are very, very bad. Katrina is such.

There are two deadly poisons called chloride and sodium. Taken alone either is deadly. Together they form sodium chloride, called table salt. They work together for good.As in the beginning God has a perfect will. When complied with it makes life productive and fulfilling. Likewise, as in the beginning God has a permissive will. Therein, things He does not prefer but permits happen.

If He had not and does not allow our actions within His permissive will we would be puppets dangling on His strings devoid of choices. Human beings would be discontent and critical of God had He not given us a free will.Credit any aberrant actions or imperfections in nature or society to what mankind has done within that free will.

Persons with a spiritual orientation would do well to commit themselves to thanking God for His recovery plan and not blaming Him for our imperfect world.

Shorter College

After nearly three years of court proceeding the Georgia Supreme Court returned Shorter College to its long standing relationship with Georgia Baptists. In the first meeting of the Board of Trustees I was elected Chairman of the Shorter Board.

Many falsehoods were cleverly shared during this time which frightened some persons at the thought of this action being taken. One by one these untruths are being proven to be baseless. One alarming untruth spread was if Trustees elected by the Georgia Baptist Convention were given the supervisory role they would have no regard for the academic standing of the school and would even turn it into a Bible college.

I have never heard any person say that other than those critical of Georgia Baptist. The opposite is true. I can assure any skeptic the ambition of the current Board is to expand and enhance the commendable academic standards for which the school has long been known. As an evidence of this a copy of my acceptance statement when elected chairman follows.

In light of this I invite students looking for a premier academic school with Christian emphasis to consider Shorter. Banners now greet visitors to the lovely campus heralding: “Shorter —- A Christian College.”

My acceptance speech follows:Thank you for the honor of serving our Lord, this esteemed school, and you my fellow trustees as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of this revered newly reconstituted Shorter College. Yet, even as we begin with this new Board of Trustees, we carry with us the history and heritage of this great institution – back to 1873 when Alfred Shorter and other dedicated individuals founded Cherokee Baptist Female College in Rome, Georgia.

As a board:
Let us aspire to maintain the academic integrity of the school in such a way as to make those associated proud of its scholarly standing. Let us perpetually maintain bold ambition to comply with requirements of SACS in order to maintain our accreditation which is so essential to our mission.

May we ever work to enable the school to provide an academic environment enhanced by Christian values where no student will have his or her faith devalued. In addition to leaving here with a prestigious degree may our students depart with their faith informed and strengthened.

Let us keep in mind that policy must always precede action. That is, every decision must be in keeping with a policy that supports it. Therefore good policies must be patiently forged in the foundry of wisdom after due deliberation.

Let us make a commitment to strive to achieve these and other worthy goals in such a way as to evidence to the academic family and the community in general, that we who comprise this body of trustees are exercising grace, integrity, wisdom, the best of business acumen, a heartfelt interest in the school’s academic standing, and Christian character. Let us so act that in time our actions will confirm these traits. Let us listen to the voices from various persuasions – and consider none to be evidence of undue outside influences, but as legitimate expressions of appreciated interest.

Neither should cause us to lose our insight or our focus – as the purpose of this body of trustees is to serve the best interests of this great institution to the best of our ability. Let us stand for academic freedom and plead for academic integrity and let our academicians voluntarily reflect academic integrity by supporting the tenants for which the institution stands. Let us establish and maintain fiscal integrity. Business acumen must be employed in order to keep our aspirations within our means and may both increase. In gratitude for those who have gone before us let us as legatees of all the giants on whose shoulders we stand avail ourselves of the opportunity this challenging hour affords.

May those who come after us find we have laid a foundation for the newly re-constituted Shorter College consisting of love for the truth, a commitment to academic excellence befitting the best the school has ever offered, and Christian concepts exercised in accord with Biblical ethics. What we do as a board of trustees will not be sub rosa and will be reflected in the public arena. May what we do here be birthed and blessed of our Lord and may it redound to the honor of His holy name.

Alcohol In America

Often something that needs to be said is better said by someone other than ourselves. The following statement by my friend, the former Nebraska Football Coach and now Congressman, Tom Osborne. He spoke the following on the floor of the House of Representatives on September 13, 2005.

“Alcohol abuse involving underage drinkers has certainly exploded, and there is a developmental aspect to underage drinking that many people in our culture are just beginning to discover. Many of our young people are starting to use alcohol at age 11, 12, 13, 14; and it is a whole different ball game when you start using it at that early age than if you start drinking when you are 21, 22, 23 because of the developmental aspect. This is something that many people in our culture do not realize. Many high school dropouts, many people who are doing very poorly in school, very poor academic performance are related in many ways to underage drinking and alcohol consumption at an early age.

“A National Academy of Science study shows that alcohol kills roughly 6 ½ times more children than all other drugs combined; 6 1/2 times more is due to alcohol abuse. Alcohol and underage drinking costs the United States $53 billion annually. In my home State of Nebraska, that figure is roughly $435 million a year, according to a Pacific Institute study that was done in 2001.

“We have roughly 3 million teenage alcoholics in our country today; and, obviously, this is by far our biggest drug problem. The alarming thing that has happened is we have seen a tremendous increase in alcoholism and drinking problems on the part of young women. At one time, most of the drinking problem was centered in young men; and now we find that young women are drinking as much and, in some cases, even more than young men.

“We also find that young people tend to binge drink. They drink to get drunk. They, on the average, will consume twice as much alcohol at a sitting as an adult will. Of course, this leads to all kinds of problems. Twenty percent of our eighth graders drink regularly, and children who drink before age 15, and the average young person who starts to drink does start drinking before age 15, is four times more likely to become an alcoholic than someone who starts using alcohol at age 21. Certainly, early alcohol usage leads directly to marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and so on.

“The other thing that is of some concern, is the fact that we inundate our young people with alcohol advertising. Our young people see 96 ads promoting alcohol use, often times with young people in the advertising itself, 96 ads for every one that they see that might discourage underage drinking. The predominate attitude in this country is that underage drinking is something that is reasonably acceptable. We have not done a good job of advertising and trying to alleviate this problem.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to fight drug production in Afghanistan, in Colombia, around the world; and a fraction of that money that would be spent on underage drinking would be much more cost-effective because we spend very, very little in that regard.”

Muslim Violence In Europe

By now many people have got it figured out. There are at least two major schools of Islamic thought. One is non-violent and one violent. Each finds justifiable reason for their conduct in the Koran.

There are American Muslims who are Americans who practice the Muslim faith. The vast majority of these are non-violent. There are Muslims living in virtually every country including America who are first and foremost Muslims committed to subjecting the world to Islamic law. There is no limit to their violence nor is anyone exempt.

These Muslims derive their philosophy form the Koran. They believe there are only three options when they encounter an infidel, that is, a Christian, Jew, or non-Muslim. They are to convert them. This is often done at the point of a sword. Second, they can conquer them. That is how the “faith” spread. Third, they can kill them. There is no fourth good option.

A few years ago a friend emailed me from the Near East saying he had lived in the Muslim milieu all his life and he hoped Europe would awake before it was too late. His concern is well founded.

A segment of the Muslim world is still simmering from the failure of their ancestors to conquer all of Europe and impose Islamic law. When Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran he urged Muslims to move to Europe to claim it for Islam. They have moved there by the millions with that intent.

What is happening in France now is being represented by most of the media as resulting from economic conditions. It is not. It is politically and religiously motivated. Among Muslims of this persuasion the two are inseparable.

France thought they could placate the seething cauldron of Islamic aggression by not siding with America in the Iraq War. Not so. The unrest is spreading to other European countries for the same reason. Within France there are Muslim communities demanding to be left alone and governed by Islamic law not French law. Thus, they want to be a country within a country. Some major French cities are over seventy percent Muslim. They vote.

On our thirty trips to the Near East we have heard Muslim youth say they were moving to America. Most always said they were moving to Michigan. I was in Detroit recently and they did move there. There are more Mosque than churches. Vast areas of the city are occupied exclusively by Muslims. If there is an American city vulnerable to what is happening in Europe it is Detroit.

Whether you like President Bush or not he is right about there being a global war of aggression. In June 2004, President Bush was greeted in Paris by posters reading: “George Bush # 1 Terrorist.” Some of the same people carrying those signs have been burning cars recently.

Initially Islam expanded by the sword. As their numbers grew so their aggression intensified. At the edge of the sword they moved across North Africa and up into Spain. The Balkans as far as Turkey fell before their sword. They conquered Istanbul, the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, with an army of soldiers consisting of children of Christians who had been captured and “converted” to Islam under threat of death. The King of Austria was the military source for stopping their onslaught. However, there was a greater influence in halting the advance. A large group of Muslim intellects realized how they were doing what they were doing was wrong and they brought influences to bear to stop the trend. That is the primary hope to stop the global aggression that has once move emerged. Till then our military is our guardian. Appeasement doesn’t work. Ask the French.