Monday, September 22, 2008

Changing times

Peter Drucker, a well-respected management and business guru, writes in his book Post-Capitalist Society:
Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions.
Fifty yeas later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their parents were born.
We are currently living through just such a transition (1).

The change to a postmodern worldview isn't quick. It is feathering the generations as the modern fades and the postmodern overwhelms. The coming generations are more pluralistic, more mystical, more experiential, more global, more fluid, and more convinced of subjective preferences. They do not like logic and refuse to be judgmental about anything. It doesn't like Christianity, because Christianity appears to point the finger at them.

How do we address these changes?
We hold fast to what we believe. We live convicted lives with love. We won't win everyone, but we will survive. We hold fast to faith, hope, and love. We do not forget who we are, whose we are, from where we have come, and where we are going.

We try to understand those with whom we must live (1 Chron. 12:32) but do not conform to them (Rom. 12:2). We identify with others but never lose focus of the imperatives of who we are (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

We understand that the gospel message is eternal not temporal. We understand that the kingdom of God is eternal not a reinvention in succeeding generations. We look to an eternal God who transcends cultural shifts, which are themselves destined to die.

We must once again see the utter uniqueness of Jesus as the one and only Lord. We must again proclaim all the reasons why we should believe. Our pulpits must once again ring with evidences for faith, hope and love.

We must live as people born again to a new life in a world bound for futility and confusion. Postmodernism has nothing to offer better than Christ.

Just as generations came back to God in the Old Testament, so there will be returns to the one and only faith of all time (Jude 3). That it may take time should not cause us to despair. The Lord is still on the throne, and his hand is with his people.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Remembering my father

On September 24, 2008 my father will mark 102 years from the time of his birth. Dad died on June 12, 1985 at the age of 78 in Dallas, Texas. I was 33 at the time, and it was the hardest experience I ever endured. I still mourn my father.

He had just turned 45 when I was born, 48 when Beth was born, and 51 when Patti was born. Oliver Harley Sanders was a strong and healthy man most of his life. At six foot tall, he weighed 157 pounds nearly all his adult life. Dad liked to walk in his later years and often did so, even when he had a car to drive.

Dad was born in Oklahoma Territory, less than a year before Oklahoma was admitted to statehood. He was born in the township of Stella in Canadian County, Oklahoma about ten miles east of Norman, Oklahoma. He is buried with my grandparents and brother in Tecumseh Cemetery, half-way between Shawnee and Tecumseh.

All of these memories seem to flood back to me. I'll be going to my home town, the place of my birth, the place where I graduated from high school, in a few weeks. I don't usually go to the cemetery (I like to remember people alive), but I probably will go out there this time. I want to see the gravestone. I likely will see the burial places of some other relatives--some kinfolk I never knew: my brother and my grandfather. When I find dad's stone, I'll also find my grandma Booth. Mom will be buried there beside dad, but not soon I pray.

2008 marks the 90th year since my grandparents and their family obeyed the gospel at the Central Church of Christ in Shawnee. The building was located on Union Street in those days instead of the fine edifice at 10th and Bell.

I am to preach at Central on October 5-8, and nothing in quite some time has kindled all the feelings that going home seems to stir in my soul. While I am there I will tell the story of William Lee and Rebecca Sanders and of Curtis G. Booth. I love to tell these stories, and they are Shawnee stories. Just thinking of them brings a little tear to my eyes.

My dad was not a perfect man, but he was "faithful in a few things." Orphaned at 12, driven from home at 14, he suffered many lonely hardships with his brother Hill. Dad had his oldest daughter kidnapped from him in early adulthood; he did not see her again for more than 30 years. Dad was among the first five men in Pottawatomie County to be drafted at the onset of World War II. He rose to the rank of sergeant and trained soldiers to shoot artillery. He went to the island of Luzon in the Philippines, where he saw violent action. When dad came home from the war, he never wanted a gun in the house.

My mom, who obeyed the gospel at the age of 16 in Shawnee, was the best thing that ever happened to my dad. Though they lost a son, my brother Richard, mom and dad loved each other dearly. They were good parents and did the best they could in many ways. Dad smoked for many years until he learned that smoking was harmful. He laid down his pipe and never took it up again (he didn't want his boys to smoke).

Mom and Dad wanted to be sure that we were Christians, so in the year 1967 we began attending Dale Church of Christ, where Hill and Alice went. Dad wanted us to have some training. I still treasure friends I made there. Danny Fredman and I still email at least once weekly. I preached my first sermon there at the age of 16 in 1968. They let me do Wednesday night devotionals as well. I remember hearing Steve Bracken preach, and I knew that's what I wanted to do! Mom and Dad always encouraged me. I don't think I would be preaching today if they had not gotten us involved in church at this critical time in my life.

Dad baptized a few folks, preached some sermons, and wrapped Bibles for World Bibles for Christ. He and Mom were very involved in their later days at Northridge, and I am thankful for the service they gave.

I hope to see a lot of loved ones and old friends at Central in October. I remember hearing such great preaching there when I was young--Richard Black, Perry Cotham, and others. A sweet sister who helped me gave me a tape of Alan Highers in 1970. Alan preached a sermon on the tape entitled, "Five Minutes After Death." That was the most powerful sermon I had ever heard up to that time. It still is. I will preach that sermon Wednesday, Oct. 8. I've preached it no less than 100 times over the last 35 years. Little could I imagine what good friends Alan and I have become in these later years and how often we have labored together in the Spiritual Sword.

Going back to your roots reminds you who you are, whose you are, and where you belong. Shawnee is home--Louisa, Kickapoo, Harrison, and Broadway are streets that fill me with memories. Long before the mall there was downtown. I remember Jr. High across the street from a 12 cent hambuger place with a Scottish name (but not McDonald's). I remember high school on Union St (not out by the football field). I remember Jim Thorp Stadium and 5-cent taffy.

Dad didn't have much of anything to impart to me or my siblings, except a faith that leads to eternal life that is far more precious than gold or jewels. For my part, I am glad I received the greater, for the rest just doesn't matter.

with love and appreciation,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Good reports

I have had several reports from a couple of states that people are being baptized following their study of the "Upon the Rock Bible Studies." They are free online, and you may copy them as much as you desire. Brian Gregory up in Kentucky, a prisoner minister Larry Ware in Oklahoma, Roderic Armstrong and Charles Howard from Nashville School of Preaching all report baptisms this year using the studies. I have also taught three and baptized two recently using them. Go to the link, click on online tools, and then go to the "Upon the Rock" section.

I pray many more souls will be won.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Deceptive Sin leads to atheism

I teach a course in Christian Evidences at Amridge University, an accredited school that offers everything from an Associate Degree to a Doctor of Philosophy in Bible. I found this quotation in the textbook I thought worth sharing, considering the comment I made August 11 on "Rebellion and Amorality":

J. Budziszewski, a repentant former atheist says:

"Not many people disbelieve in God and then begin to sin; most atheists adopt some favorite sin and then find reasons to disbelieve in God. In this common sequence of intellectual events, an individual does not begin by denying God or even by denying moral law. Rather, he begins by denying a part of the moral law, perhaps even a single moral law. Perhaps he denies only the precept of chastity--that sex is a privilege of a marital union. Perhaps he denies only the precept of fidelity--that vows are to be kept. Perhaps he denies only the precept of filial reverence--that parents are to be held in respect. Or perhaps he denies only the precept of justice--that one must not seek unfair advantage."

He further argues:

"One eventually loses control of the 'no to just a part' gambit because it is impossible to reject just a part of the moral law. To affirm that the unitive and procreative power of sexuality may be used outside of matrimony is to deny a great many things about human nature besides. To affirm that a vow may be broken is to call into question the very idea of personal responsibility. To deny to one's parents their due respect is to reject the chain of obligation that links all generations. To maintain that one may seek unfair advantage is to unleash the gods of the jungle." ("Why I Am Not an Atheist" in Why I Am a Christian, ed. by Norman Geisler, 57).

Deception breeds deception, and self-deception breeds more self-deception. One lie must cover up another, until an individual is blind to his own soul and to his own God.

Sin breeds thanklessness and dishonor to God (Rom. 1:18-21). We must be aware that all sin has a vulnearability to self-deception.

Think about it,

Monday, September 01, 2008

When a family member sins?

What do conservative Christians do when people fail? They understand, they forgive, and they show compassion. They follow Jesus. Jesus understood, forgave, and showed compassion. What they don't do is act like sin isn't sin. Christians treat sin as sin and forgive the sinner. Forgiveness means they don't hold the sin against the sinner.

If you listen to the critics of the faith, you would think that they are ready to stone the seventeen-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin. But the conservative Christian leaders didn't. Some progressives, postmoderns, and liberals and media love to point the finger at anyone whom they think is a conservative as judgmental. They label such people as self-righteous and hateful toward sinners... what is interesting is how the liberals never let a failure go, while conservatives know how to forgive. What is amazing is how judgmental the media has been and how kind Christians and conservatives have been.

(But you see, one is only judgmental when one is conservative. Liberals don't judge other liberals; they just judge conservatives--but judging conservatives isn't judgmental; it is broadminded. Hmmm! How self-serving.)

The liberal, progressive media wanted so badly to label Gov. Palin as a hypocrite because she backed abstinence as a way to combat teen pregnancy.

As the father of four daughters, I grew to realize that my daughters (as good as they were) were not perfect; but no matter what they did, I loved them and supported them. How could I do otherwise?

Those who do not hold God highly would rather dismiss or ignore sin. They leave it unconfessed and unresolved. To them it is not an issue. Their amorality, however, comes back to bite them. There is always a payday for unresolved sin, whether they want to admit it or not. Paul said about unresolved sin: "a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough." When sin is not treated as an evil and resolved then it spreads. That's what has happened in our postmodern (unwilling to condemn) world.

A Christian confesses sin and finds resolution to sin in forgiveness. The Lord's way works; other ways fail to deal with sin. The cross and the love of God forgives sin and leads the way out. The liberal way of denying there is a moral issue is utter foolishness.