Friday, April 19, 2013

All Baptist Are Like Westboro Baptist

Do you like the title of this blog post? I am sure that most of my readers don't. If that is all I said, you would probably fill my comment section, Facebook page, and Twitter feed (_brad_Gilbert_), berating me otherwise and trying to "set me straight." Before you skip the rest of this post to do so, understand this: I don't think all Baptist are like Westboro Baptist. They are a very, very poor representation of what a church is supposed to be, and what we as Baptist believe. Truth be told, I don't even like using the word Baptist or Church when talking about them. 

So then, why would I say it? My goal is that some who read this may open their eyes and see that blanket statements made about other religions and people groups can be just as hurtful. As the situation in Boston unfolds further, it did not take long for the anti-Muslim posts, tweets, pictures, etc. to make their way around. Which is interesting, because as of now (4/19/13 11am EST) no specific detail as to what, if any, group they belonged to, and motive, has been revealed. Now, it may come out that there is some connection to a Muslim extremist group, but it hasn't yet - but those facts don't stand in the way of what many post, share, or promote. 

It is easy to sit behind a computer, or smart phone, and make a bold proclamation about an entire people group without ever thinking through what you are saying. Just as we would agree all Baptist are not like Westboro Baptist, not all Muslims are here to take away your freedoms and kill you. As my wife could attest (she volunteers with a missionary family to work at a local Arab American Friendship Center teaching Muslim women English), many who come to America do so to escape the violence and live the American dream - just like our ancestors did not so long ago.

When I read these blanket statements that are filled with such smugness and vitriol, whether the issue is homosexuality, Muslims, etc., it reveals to me that the person saying it and posting it has never actually tried to reach out with the Gospel to that person. Truth is, most people who make these types of statements live their life in a vacuum with people who believe, live, and act just as they do. As someone who comes in contact with people of the Middle East all the time, and someone who has personally spoke with and counseled with those who are caught up in the homosexual lifestyle, I know that these kinds of statements do not help. In actuality, they often reveal that we are more like those who attend Westboro Baptist Church, whether we want to admit that or not. 

So, all I ask is that you think before you post, share, say, etc. Think about who may read it. And think about how that may harden their heart for the next person who actually wants to share with them the love of God and sacrificial death of His Son Jesus for their sins. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

America: Be The Change Needed

As news filters out about the terrible tragedy of the bombing of the Boston Marathon and prayers are lifted up on their behalf, my mind began to think of the recent outbreaks of mass killings here in America. Whether it be a movie theater, school, or a sports event, one thing is true - the violence that we see oversees has made its way to our shores. I am sure many people have their theories why, and I have mine. And while many will use the suffering and tragedy of others as their own personal soap box for whichever side of the issue they fall on, that should not be our focus. The "why" is not important at times like this, the "what" is more important.

What ever the reason, one thing remains the same: the Church needs to be the Church, and Christians need to be Christians. The more salt and light that exist, the less of these tragedies we see. Instead of lamenting why, lets seek ways to be used of God to be agents of change. Start with your city, your street, your house - you heart. Just start. If you won't, who will?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What I Believe

What I Believe

I believe that the Bible is the collection of 66, God-breathed, Holy Spirit inspired books that reveal to us the nature and character of our triune God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - and His eternal plan of redemption for mankind throughout the ages. 

Because of the sin of Adam and God’s great love for us, He sent His only begotten Son Jesus to be born of a virgin, live a sinless life, die a sacrificial death, and resurrect from the grave three days later victorious over death, hell, and the grave so that whosoever calls upon His name in faith and repentance shall be eternally saved. 

While not a requirement for salvation, every born again believer should follow our Lord in believer’s baptism, completely immersed under water to show the likeness of our Lord’s death and the new life He has resurrected us into. This baptism unites us with our fellow believer’s in membership to our local church, and we join with them in observing the Lord’s Supper and fulfilling the Great Commission of going into all the world to witness to the lost, baptize converts, and start local churches until the Lord’s pre-millennial, pre-tribulational return. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Half-Hearted Sympathy

As the very sad news of the passing of Pastor Rick and his wife Kay Warren's son made its way through Twitter, I began to see tweets of condolences that upset me. Now, anyone that keeps on top of the issues knows that Rick Warren is a controversial figure, no matter which side of the issue you are on. Many conservative evangelicals are often at odds with how he practices his theology.

So, at a moment such as this, where a family is hurting after the loss of their son, is it really time to take a shot at your differences with that person? I say that because I kept coming across tweets that said things like, "While I often disagree with him, I am praying for the Warren family and am sorry for their loss." Really?!?! Why can't you just say you are praying for them and are truly sorry for their loss?

When you say or post similar statements during people's suffering, what you are really doing is revealing your own heart -and it's wicked! True compassion for others does not mean you take a person's tragedy to remind them why you think they are wrong.

Half-hearted sympathy is full-hearted sorriness.

Monday, April 1, 2013

What The Bible REALLY Says About Marriage

There has been plenty written and said recently about marriage, same-sex union, and the Bible. Many Christians have loudly and repeatedly shared, said, or posted the words of Jesus when He is speaking to some Pharisees in Judaea:

Matthew 19:4-5 (KJV 1900) — 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Now, is Jesus saying that God created man and woman and brought them together in what we call today "Holy Matrimony"? 


But......that is not all Jesus is saying.

Unfortunately, many who champion the words of verse 4 overlook the following verses, and the overall context of what Jesus is really trying to teach. First, lets look at the entire conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees:
Matthew 19:1–12 (KJV 1900) — 1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. 3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. 11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

As you can see, the Pharisees initiated the conversation, and it has nothing to do with same-sex marriages. The question was asked in relation to DIVORCE, and Jesus' answer is a description as to why and how God began the institution of marriage. Did God design marriage to be between one man and one woman -YES. But also JUST AS IMPORTANT, God designed that marriage to be FOR LIFE! It is interesting to me to read and see how so many Christians are up in arms with this issue today, yet they have no problem with divorce. Truth be told, many of them are divorced themselves. Where is the consistency?

Have you ever stopped to wonder if our hypocritical attitude on this subject is actually repelling more people away from the Gospel instead of drawing them in? If you think the Bible is against same-sex marriage as a viable option (and it is), then you should also feel the same way about divorce (because Jesus does).  Where is the outrage over people discarding their sacred vows, tearing apart families, and causing confusion as to the Bible's stand against divorce? We cannot pick and choose the issues that we support or are against. Consistency is needed not only in the pulpit, but in the pew/seats as well. 

Just as those who have experienced divorce like to be treated with love and compassion, maybe we should be willing to extend that same grace to those fighting with the issue of same-sex marriage?