The Savior of New Orleans

Due to the ridiculous statements being made in the aftermath of the Super Bowl, I am compelled to leave our present discussion on the American idols of busyness and lifestyle to say a few things about “The Savior of New Orleans.”

I visited New Orleans as an 8th grader on a field trip.  Even way back then (and wow was it ever way back then), I found the city an intriguing mix of architectural beauty, cultural complexity, American dreaming and American poverty.  The jazz filled the air on nearly every street corner.  The French Quarter was glamorous and quaint.  The cathedrals were breath-taking.  Jackson Square was the epitome of American consumerism.  The Superdome was almost too big to believe.  And, the homeless and drunks and destitute were epidemic.  What a mix of the have’s and have not’s – the conundrum that was, and is The Crescent City.

Now, some will acuse me of being a band-wagon fan, but I have witnesses who can corroborate my story.  As a boy growing up in KY, we had no in-state professional sports.  Young boys had to pick a team at random to make their own.  Most boys in my central KY hometown chose the Cincinnati Bengals, sheerly out of proximity.  But, I did not like their uniforms.  Too gaudy.  So, I chose the black and gold of the Saints, who were then known as the Aint’s. 

I have wanted the Saints to succeed since a young boy.  And, when they finally did, what timing!  Just when the city is fighting to re-emerge, re-build, and rekindle hope, their team wins the Super Bowl.  It would take a callous person to ignore the significance of it all.  But, friends, we must be very cautious when we start to assign significance to the affairs of men.  Remember the Tower of Babel?  Our sinful tendency is to exalt ourselves, and ignore or altogether forget God.

How many people have you heard using the words, “Savior,” “Re-birth,” and “Hope” in reference to the football team known as the Saints?  It is as if the city of New Orleans thinks that winning a game will somehow cure all their ills.  While it may boost their economy and their spirits for a while, this euphoria shall pass. 

New Orleans, I realize it is a fat chance any of you are actually reading this blog, but on the slim odds that someone is listening – please repent of your idolatry and turn to the one and only Savior who can truly set your captives free.  His name is Jesus. 

Ironic that the city known for its decadence, drunken parties, sexual perversion, gut-wrenching poverty, and American materialism is represented by a team called the Saints.  Even more ironic that the Saints are being viewed as the Savior, when the Bible says the saints are so only because they have been saved by the Savior.  His name is Jesus. 

May the churches of the Risen Christ in New Orleans seize these opportunties to be ambassadors for the only Savior who truly saves from the curse of sin, and death, and eternal condemnation.  May the churches of Jacksonville, NC do likewise.  If people want to talk of rebirth and saviors, then by all means, let’s go talk to them!         

“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

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Lou E. Wilkie-McWhorter - Keith really has liked the Saints since childhood; but, better yet, his commitment to Christ and the furthering of His kingdom and addition of saints to God’s role call is a far better team to support and uplift.

wpolscemamymocneseo - Man, you are a good writer. Your text is so interesting. You should do it for a living

tlbcassocpastor - Thanks, but I’m not sure anybody would actually pay me to write!

katalog seo - Not often users can find such lovely text. Good job amigo. I wish you best luck with this blog

American Idols

For the next few posts, I want to begin challenging readers to think very seriously about the obstacles that might stand in the way of growing more cross-centered in their homes (marriage, parenting, sibling relations, etc.).  After all, it should come as no surprise that if a follower of Christ makes a commitment, by God’s grace, to pursue holiness and Christ-likeness in one or more areas of life, battles will ensue.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). 

Are you aware of the battle raging for the heart of your home?  Your own hearts?  Your spouses’ hearts?  Your children’s hearts?  Your brothers’ and sisters’ hearts?  Following hard after Jesus comes at a cost (Luke 14:25-35).  We do well to consider the cost of a cross-centered home. 

Looking back on my own life, I am often sorely disappointed in how little I have sacrificed to serve Jesus and to spread His love and message to my neighbors and to the ends of the earth.  In America, Christians can live so comfortably, and never really know what it means to truly give sacrificially, of their time, money, energy, talents, gifts, mind, heart and soul.  Or, can they?  Does Jesus the Christ actually allow for comfortable, non-sacrificial Christianity?  Even a cursory review of His teachings in the New Testament challenges this notion of what we Americans have called Christianity for far too long. 

Make no mistake, pursuing Christ in our homes, or anywhere else for that matter, is costly.  Jesus makes absolute demands upon His vassals, and has sovereign rights as our substitutionary Savior-Warrior-King to do so (1 Cor 6:19-20).  The Lord is graciously teaching me more of what it means to “count the cost.”  And I am finding that for every little step of faith or sacrifice made, God is infinitely worthy of it; so much so that I hesitate to call anything I do in His service a “sacrifice.” 

To avoid pontificating at length in this post, let me just leave you with this thought, based upon observation, personal experience, and the absolute authority of the Scripture:

Two idols are epidemic in Christian homes today, and they are preventing many of us from striving by grace towards the C2H ideal.  These American idols are: Busyness and Lifestyle.  They go hand-in-hand, and they are sucking the vitality right out of our hearts, our homes, and our churches.  Consider prayerfully how these idols seek to rule your hearts each day.  We will further explore in our next post.

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Teach the Children (Why C2H Pt II)

I remember well how Holy Spirit God brought conviction into my heart concerning my lack of zeal for teaching the Word to my daughters.  In the Fall of 2008, I heard Dr. Albert Mohler (www.albertmohler.com) preach a sermon at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The title of that sermon, if memory serves me, was “How Not to Raise a Pagan.”  The text was Deuteronomy 6:1-9, which includes the well-known, but not well-practiced shema

At the time, my wife had been homeschooling our daughters for about a year, and I had functioned as a laissez-faire partner in the whole affair.  God got my attention through Dr. Mohler’s sermon!  I began to sense the overwelming task of a godly Dad, which I had shamefully been ignoring:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and who you rise up (Deut 6:6-7).

Wow!  How had I neglected so clear a command and expectation from God?  I mean, it’s even re-emphasized through Paul’s pen (Eph 6:4).  Up to that point, my wife and I were functioning much like throngs of other Christian parents in America.  We left the Bible teaching primarily to the Sunday School teachers.  Our homeschool was nothing more than a “school at home.”  That is, it reflected the state-run curriculum, only we were doing it at home!  Really almost pointless when you think about it?! 

The Lord put me at a crossroad that day.  By His grace, I began to commit myself to living out Deut 6 in my home.  But I am stubborn and my consistency in teaching the Bible to our daughters at first was mostly inconsistent!  So, the Lord continued to pursue me (isn’t He an amazing God?).  My friend Robert Williams preached a sermon in the early part of 2009, from, you guessed it, Deuteronomy 6

Then, I received a sale catalog from my friends at Ligonier Ministries (www.ligonier.org).  And what was on sale, you ask?  When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R. C. Sproul, Jr.  This book is based on, yep, Deuteronomy 6.  The Lord used the combination of these sermons (two oral and one written) to light the flame in my heart for good.  I have no intention of looking back! 

The blessings of God being showered on my family since we decided to take God at His word and make our home a WSZ (that’s Word Saturation Zone) have humbled us and kept us at the foot of the Cross, singing praise to our King Jesus. 

So, it should come as no surprise, then, that Deuteronomy 6 is at the very heart of Cross-Centered Homes.  We want to be used by God to encourage and equip parents to live out this wonderful text. 

As I have spoken with several Christian parents in the past year or so, I have found that many of them really do want to become what God says they should be – the primary Bible teachers of their children.  But, they simply do not know how.  Sadly, their parents (many of them Christian) did not open the Bible and teach it to them every day as they grew up.  So, today’s Christian parents have never even seen this modeled! 

We have seen the need for a major paradigm shift back to obedience to God’s Word in our homes.  For too long, Christian homes have tithed mint and cumin while neglecting the weightier matters of God’s Law – like teaching it to the children!

Church of God, rise up!  Pastors, rise up!  Church Bible Teachers, rise up!  Teach parents how to teach the Word and talk about the Word in their homes!  “Equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” beginning in their homes (Eph 4:12).  Soli Deo Gloria!              

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Why C2H?

Cross-Centered Homes (C2H) is a ministry initiative birthed out of several years of research and personal concern for the homes represented in Tar Landing Baptist Church in Jacksonville, NC (www.tarlandingbaptist.org). 

Like most local churches, our pastors and Bible teachers understand what the word of God says our homes should be like, but there seemed to be a disconnect when we took honest assessments of what our homes were like in actuality.  We know what ought to be, but we are also dealing with what is every day. 

After a year of reading books, websites, blogs, attending conferences / training events, and talking to couples in our church, God began to produce a clearer picture of how to bridge the gap between what ought to be and what is.  A few things became obvious, including:

♦Pastors / teachers had to place heavy emphasis on the Bible’s teachings on the home.

 ♦Pastors / teachers had to be bold enough to make specific applications of those biblical texts to our current culture (much more on this in future posts).

♦Pastors / teachers had to get serious about equipping spouses and parents with tools to help them obey the commands of our God.   

The more we looked into these matters, the more we became convinced that almost nothing else we do as a local church will make much of an impact if we do not first reclaim our homes for Christ.  It has been researched and proven so many times that it should go without saying – the home is the foundation of society.  Churches are only as strong as their homes.  The plethora of societal ills we see around us every day are nearly all attributable to the breakdown or redfinition of the American home.  Again, I could cite sources, but I imagine you are as familiar with them as I. 

The hymn writer / pastor George Atkins voiced our lament and prayer well in his song Brethern We Have Met to Worship:

See our fathers, and our mothers, and our children sinking down?  Brethern, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.                                          

C2H is really a heart cry to God to use us to help this local church produce the strongest, most biblically healthy homes in our city and county.  We pray this for every Bible believing church.  And, here at Tar Landing, or where ever the Lord may place me in the future, we intend to put our money / time / effort where our mouth is in this foundational matter of Christ-Centered Homes.

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps 11:3)

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Anon - I hope the church’s strength surely is not in our homes.

tlbcassocpastor - The church’s strength is solely in her sure foundation, the Rock, the Cornerstone, the Head, Jesus the Christ and in the Holy Spirit which He has given to those He has graciously redeemed by His blood! My point is simply that if our homes are not Christ-centered, then it is all but certain our churches will not be, either. Weak Christian homes make for weak Christian churches. Thanks for your comment!

The American Holocaust

For many evangelical Christians in the western world, this Sunday is “Sanctity of Human Life” Day.  It is mind-boggling and stomach-churning to consider the tens of millions of unborn babies we have wholesale slaughtered in this nation over the past four decades.  If anyone is still wondering where the Darwinian / Naturalist worldview leads, he or she needs look no further than the massive infanticide industry led by Planned Parenthood. 

The quotes from Margaret Sanger, as well as popular professor Peter Singer are well-known and by now well-published.  Sanger was clearly a racist by any stretch of the definition, yet is still lauded as a hero in some circles.  In the July 1983 edition of the journal Pediatrics, Peter Singer argues that in some instances the life of a pig has more value than the life of, say, a down syndrome baby. 

In that same article, titled “Sanctity of Life or Quality of Life,” Singer wrote: “We can no longer base our ethics on the idea that human beings are a special form of creation, made in the image of God, singled out from all other animals, and alone possessing an immortal soul.”  And this guy has shaped the minds of hundreds of our nations leaders as a professor at some of our more prestigious universities!   

Friends, the Nazi mentality is alive and well in this nation.  Is this really the kind of philosophy and worldview we wish to base our culture and country upon?

But my focus today is more upon the impact abortion has had, and is having upon families.  Here are some questions to fuel thought:

1) How many families have been deprived of holding that precious newborn miracle of God as she coos and squirms after feasting on warm milk?

2) What impact will the death of 40 million babies have on our nation fifty years from now?  We have annihilated an entire generation of Americans!  Economic impact will be certain, but more importantly than that, I wonder how many Einstein’s, Mozart’s, Billy Graham’s, Ronald Reagan’s, Mother Theresa’s, and General Swartzkoff’s we have killed off?

3) How many mothers who chose abortion now are haunted by the voice of unborn life late at night?  How many hurt deeply in silence?  How many desperately need the forgiving and healing touch of the Master, Jesus?

4) How many could-have-been Dads, who are typically given almost no say in the matter of abortion, grieve over the loss of opportunity to play ball with their boy?

So, what to do?  I offer up this prayer on behalf of all who believe we should praise the Lord, “for we are wonderfully and fearfully made” –

Oh Sovereign Lord, break our hearts for the spiritual poverty of America.  God, grant Your people in Your churches courage to call abortion the horrific sin and affront to Your holy character that it is.  God grant Your people in Your churches compassion to reach out with the love and hope of Christ to any and all who have been impacted by abortion.  God convict churches all across this land to pour their time, money and prayers into local pro-life pregnancy centers.  Lord, bring the American people to their senses, enable us to vote local, state and national leaders into office who are firmly pro-life, and help the electorate to “fire” pro-death leaders every chance they get.  Oh Lord, forgive us.  Heal us.  Grant us repentance, that Your glory might once again be restored to this people called Americans.  For the Fame of Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Ellen Stone - Thank you for standing up for and speaking out about the sanctity of life! I pray that all Christians who read this will be convicted to make the very same stand.

T r u t h