Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rick Warren and AIDS

This post is about two weeks too late, but I thought I would write it anyway. A couple of weeks ago Rick Warren held an AIDS summit at his church in California. He invited a wide variety of guest speakers including U2 leadsinger Bono (that's for you Dr. Kelly). His most "controversial" speaker was Senator Barak Obama. Senator Obama is a Democrat who is pro-choice. He also believes in helping out the AIDS crisis. Many right-wing conservatives blasted Pastor Warren for inviting Sen. Obama to the summit. In a letter signed by 18 conservative religious leaders, including many Southern Baptists, Warren was condemned for having Obama. The letter said, "If Senator Obama cannot defend the most helpless citizens in our country, he has nothing to say about the AIDS crisis." You can read more of the letter here ABP Article.

What a statement to make! What have conservative evangelicals done for the AIDS crisis besides blame it on homosexuals (mind you I'm a conservative evangelical)? Why should we have to agree on everything to work together? I'm reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. The people who were supposed to have compassion upon the robbed and beaten man did not. The Samaritan man, who was hated by the Jews in Jesus day, was the one who had compassion. It is time to put aside demonizing each other, and start working together to help solve some of the world's issues such as poverty and AIDS. I like what Pastor Warren said at his conference, "Today you have heard Compassionate Conservatism and Compassionate Liberalism. The thing they had in common was compassion." Well put Pastor Warren.

Friday, December 01, 2006

This Week in God on Left Behind video game

Christians and video games? Check this out!

Monday, November 27, 2006


If some of you out there have some time, you can listen to a few of my recent sermons here:


Enjoy (hopefully)!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Let me start off by saying that I am a competitive person. I hate to lose. The other day I was playing basketball in Waco as I often do on Fridays. This particular week was not a good one for me on the court. My shot wasn't falling, and worse my teams kept losing. But I, being the competitive person that I am, did not leave until I won a game. It took over two hours, but finally a team I played on won a game. It's a sick thing, this addiction to winning. Often my mood on Saturdays is determined by the outcome of the OU football game. Our society has placed winning on a pedestal. For instance, look at our national basketball team. They have finished third in the world the past two years at the Olympics, and then this year at the World Championships. Yet we blast them for not winning. As a nation we take great pride in never losing a war (although in the War of 1812 the White House was burned down). This air of competition has swept in the church in America as well. I remember growing up comparing our church to other churches around the area. I found myself comparing our youth groups to other's youth groups (even though most of the time I had never even visited the other churches). We have become competitive in our numbers, as we have allowed them to determine success. (To refute my own argument, I believe in the church and the life-changing message that the church brings through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, so I want as many people there to experience that life change). Church, however, is not about competition. Look at the story of the rich man and Lazarus. What was the rich man's problem? It seems to me that the Rich Man thought he was better than Lazarus. Basically he was a winner, and Lazarus, a loser. The rich man was too good to even give Lazarus crumbs. Even in death the rich man thought he was better than Lazarus! Notice he asks Lazarus to serve him by dipping his finger in water to cool the rich man's tongue. Then he asks Lazarus to go tell his family! How arrogant is this guy? How arrogant are we? The rich man thought he had things figured out. He was a winner, he had success. But he neglected his fellow man, and considered the needy man outside his house a loser. And where did his competition land him? In the same Gospel of Luke, Jesus is shown as getting baptized in a line with everybody else, rich and poor. Jesus did not regard others as winners and losers. Lord, help us to do the same.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thank you to all who have prayed for my family the past two weeks or so. My Grandmother went to be with the Lord last Wednesday morning. Her funeral service was well done by her pastor. She would have been pleased. Thank you once again.

On a different note, congradulations Jon Bodenstein on his engagement. You're crazy man!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Yesterday as I was watching tv I saw something that really impacted my life. I was flipping through and turned it onto MTV. I know, I know, MTV and life impacting? Pimp my Ride didn't speak to me, nor Sweet 16. MTV was showing a "Diary of the Clinton Foundation." It chronicled Bill Clinton's and another man's experience in Rwanda, trying to raise awareness for the genocide going on in the Darfur region. It was meant mainly for the awefulness of genocide, and it showed how people's lives were affected. But what struck me was the extreme, extreme poverty that these people lived in. For instance, in one hospital there were only 60 beds with over 1000 people that needed hospital treatment. At the same hospital there was no running water, so they could not wash there hands after surgery, or even clean the building. It broke my heart. Often as Christians we seem to only care about saving people from hell, but we need to wake up to the fact that there are people living in hell on earth right now (I recomend going to Rob Bell's website and listening to his sermon on hell). As Christians I believe our job is to bring the Kingdom of God to people who have no hope right now! The MTV show called for political action from the UN. Well, that's good and all, but I do not believe that the UN will do anything. I believe that the solution is Christians working together in an ecumenical movement to bring the Kingdom where it has not been reached. The Kingdom of God is more than just fire insurance, and more than just a relief agency. Rick Warren is attempting to do this, and I applaud him, and hopefully will get to join the cause.

On a personal note, please pray for my Dad as he travels to Oklahoma, and my Grandma as she faces heart surgery tomorrow.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Seperation of Church and state? Check out this article on BP and tell me what you think:

BP Article

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This past week was a pretty life-impacting week for me. I was reminded of feelings that I had for one of my friends a couple years ago, as I found out that one of my fellow Truett student's dad had died. Please pray for Lloyd and his family.

We also had a great chapel service this past week that really spoke to my heart. Our speaker, Dr. Sharyn Dowd (yes a woman for all you who care about such things) spoke about loving God with our minds. When asked the greatest commandment, Jesus quoted the Deut. 6 passage which talks about loving God with your whole person. Jesus even adds mind to the Deut. passage. Though I realize that the heart, being, and strength is in reference to the whole person, I think that Jesus did add the mind for a reason. God gave us a mind, and He expects us to use it. This does not mean however that we become so intellectual that we neglect our service and devotion to Christ. However it does mean when confronted with new ideas that we allow ourselves to open up and explore the idea. It's not like God hasn't heard it before, so I really don't think he minds if you allow strange, perhaps even unorthodox thoughts to enter your mind.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Emergent church's language is full of building community. I like that. I like being apart of a community, and feeling welcomed by a group. I also feel that my church does a good job of that in Beaumont. My concern is however that through this language of building a community is that we have lost an individualistic spirit. Now some of you out there would say, "Ray church is a community." Yes, but the community ought to be made up of individuals who have different characteristics and opinions. I do believe that in the essentials, we ought to be unified. However, with non-essentials I think there is beauty within diversity. Because even though we may disagree over a particular issue, say speaking in tongues, we serve the same God, and it is beautiful when people worship together and get along in community despite individual opinions. In Baptist life we have lost this. Historically, Baptist churches have been autonomous, and supposedly they still are. Now it seems that if you do not agree with me on a specific issues, there is no way we can even be in the same room without tension, much less worship together. However, we were all created in God's image. God also created us different from everybody else. God created us to be diverse, and to have different outlooks on life. God created us to be individuals. That is why it is an individual's decision to come to Christ, and not a family's. Family has an important role, but ultimately it is up to the individual to make the decision to come to Christ. As Baptists, as Christians, we ought to welcome individualism, and realize that we are all in it together. That is community.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

About a year ago, Joel Olsteen got blasted by many of my Baptist friends by saying that he didn't know if non-Christians in India who he saw "the hand of God" upon were automatically condemned to hell because they did not know Jesus. After getting blasted, he apologized and said he absolutely believes that Jesus is the way to salvation, as do I. However, sometimes I wonder, and last night I was confronted with it, is there a difference between someone who has been saved and someone who is a Christian? For instance, for someone to be a Christian I believe there are certain dogmas one must hold, such as the ressurection. My question is, can someone who does not believe perhaps in the bodily ressurection of Jesus be saved? Albert Schweitzer is one example that comes to mind. Here is a man who has poor Christology I believe. But he gave his life to the teachings of Jesus, and judging by his life, it seems that he loved Jesus. I know I am treading on dangerous territory, almost heretical it seems. But my point is that God is a gracious and merciful God. Our job is to be Christians, and to spread that salvation is through Jesus. God's job is to save people, and for us to condemn somebody to hell, well, I think we tread on God's territory. What do you all think?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I have decided I hate moving. I'm excited for the change, but I hate moving. Setting up takes time, effort, and money that I don't have. Also, as of right now, I don't know that many people, and none of my neighbors have been out to talk to. Change is hard, but good at the same time. Today I was putting things on my wall and for some reason began to think about Abram. Abram was a successful man before God called him. His friends and family were there, and I'm sure it was a comfortable life. But God called him to move out of the country he had grown up in into a land which God would show him. Abram didn't even know where he was going to go! At least I know that for the next few years. Although Abram made some mistakes, he followed God and God took care of him. I can only hope for the same thing for myself.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

If you ever want to start a huge argument among Christians bust out the whole Calvinism vs. Armenianism debate. The thing I do not like about the debate is that both sides read the Bible through a system, and do not read the Bible for what it says. We always want to put systems or creeds in order to understand scripture, and I'm fine with that. However, many times the creed or system becomes the only way for a person to read the Bible. If you do not read a certain scripture a certain way, then you get lumped into a different group, an enemy if you will. For instance, if you do not read the Bible through a Calvinist's system, then you must be an Armenian, or vis versa. I just have a hard time believing it to be true. The fact is that there is evidence for both Calvinism and Armenianism in the Bible. As Dr. Mullins said "It's both." Maybe we should stop limiting God to a certain system, and start realizing that God is bigger than any system that humans can come up with.

Friday, August 04, 2006

When I started this blog, I was determined that I would not write anything out of anger. But only a month into the blog, I am going to break that. Today I read an article about a ruling of US District Judge Robert Pratt. He ruled a Christian program called the InnerChange Freedom Initiative in Iowa unconstitutional because it violates church and state. If he would have left it at that, it would not have been a big deal. This program, which has been very successful, is an evangelical effort to help prisoners rehabilitate and gets money from the Faith-based initiatives. What Judge Pratt did that greatly overstepped his bounds was define evangelicalism in a twelve page opinion. He found that Evangelical Christianity to be "anti-sacrimental which downplays baptism, holy communion, marriage and ordination." Evangelicals are also "comtemptuous of Roman Catholic practices." I'm all for seperation of church and state. Whenever the church gets into bed with the government, the church gets raped. However, what this man did was as a judge define Evangelicalism as a narrow, mean-spirited minority. He also took a step toward a court defining what is and what is not legitiment theology. Seperation of church and state was really created to protect the church from government. Why then in this ruling, supposedly upholding church and state, did a government appointed judge define evangelicalism? That is over the boundary that the government is supposed to abide by because it could then be applied to any church-related program that does good in society. I hope this decision gets thrown out in appeals court.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

If you know me well, then you know that one of my heroes is Martin Luther King Jr. I am facinated by the civil rights movement under his leadership. He took the teachings of Christ and helped change the fortunes of African Americans living in the south. He did it by loving his enemy even when his enemy jailed and beat on him and his followers. Growing up hearing about Dr. King, I always placed him on this huge pedastal, like God was speaking directly to him and he was just carrying out the plan. In reading about him though, Dr. King was human. He made mistakes and at times got depressed. Before he died, and the riots of '68 were happening, he fell into a great depression. The voting rights act and the civil rights acts had been signed, and he really did not know where to go from there. Within the African American community, he had been losing influence to the Black Power movement. But then, according to Jesse Jackson, he would preach himself out of depression. He realized something. He realized that he could not do things on his own. He said in one of his last speeches "And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God's universe is made; this is the way it is structured." What he said was that we all have struggles, we all have sins, and what we do affects the world around us. But together we must press on together to overcome our struggles.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I am such a hypocrit. I have a confession to make. I do not have any problems with women being pastors. I really don't. I'm fully aware of the I Timothy passage, and the argument that since men are supposed to be the head of the household, then they are supposed to head the church as well. Both I think don't take into consideration the culture of the day. However, in Acts all the gifts of the spirit are given out to both the sons and daughters of God, including preaching or prophecy. Knowing this though, and even believing it, a woman still has to be twice as good as a man for me to listen to her, or take her seriously. There are women out there who do that, such as my mother. She gets our congregation focused every Sunday morning and she's incredible. Though she would never say so, my mother is the best speaker in my family (and the best Christian as well). There are very few women like my mother (and I realize I'm biased). So to all you women out there, I'm all for you in any kind of role in ministry, but I just can't listen to you. What a hypocrit!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We throw the word "faith" around. We say we are a people of faith, or we live by faith. What does it truly mean to live by faith? Is it just believing or saying you believe in something? I'm all about seeing people receive Christ and getting baptized. I love it when that happens, but I always wonder in the back of my mind "Is it real, or is it fire insurance?" (to quote Dr. Mullins). In the Luke 7:36-50 passage, Jesus tells the sinful woman that her faith has saved her, and for her to go in peace. What was her faith? Was it the tears she cried, the perfume she brought, or was it something else? I think when Jesus referred to her faith, it was the response she gave to who Jesus was. Simon the Pharisee and his friends had heard the same message about Jesus, had probably seen him do the miracles written about in chapter 7, but they did not respond. This sinful woman however, saw the miracles, heard Jesus claim about himself and responded with tears. Because of this response Jesus said "Go in peace." She was a changed woman. Faith then, according to this story, is a response to God. Because of her willingness to respond to God, Jesus forgave her sins and gave her a life of peace, something that the pharisee's interpretation of religion could never give.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm reading a book that all Christian American's should read. It is American Gospel by Jon Meacham. Meacham explores the use of religion and its effect upon the political situation throughout American history. Our Founding Fathers, while not all Christians, all had a sense of America being guided by a Divine Force. Therefore the author argues "Given that a large majority do believe in a transcendent power, and given that the evocations of a transcendent power grew organically from the habits and hearts of the early Americans, it would be as unsound to ban the use of the word God from all public life as it would be to require every American to attend church services every Sunday." Finally somebody has realized that there are a lot of shades of grey. The problem I have with both extreme liberals and the religious right is that there is no room in the middle. Our Founding Fathers on the other hand understood the importance of balance between the political and religion. They did not disregard religion by becoming a secular government, but allowed it to flourish and to not become corrupt by staying out of religion. At the same time, they understood that this country needs religion in order for this country to maintain a sense of purpose. I am grateful for the stands our Founding Fathers took on the Freedom of Religion.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Since blogging is the new sensation in America today I thought I would get involved as well. Bloggers have effected the outcomes in political races both in the government and more recently in the Southern Baptist Convention. Some of you may be wondering what politia basileias means. It is Greek (if you know me that is no surprise) and it means "Citizen of the Kingdom." This summer I have been doing sermon research for my dad in Beaumont, TX for an upcoming series on Kingdom Living. In studying for these sermons, I have become convicted that I need to "Seek first the Kingdom of God," hince the name. It is my prayer that we all will experience the reign of God in our lives.

eirene ek (peace out),