My wife and I are traveling back to Enid, America today in order to be present for our inaugural REFUGE 7:1 Saturday night worship service. I must tell my Little Rock friend, David Sanders, that every single hotel room in his fair city and to the west for 70 miles was BOOKED last night --- not a lot of the rooms, every SINGLE room (I now hate regional soccer tournaments!). So my wife and I coasted into Russellville, Arkansas at 1:30 a.m. this morning on our way back from the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama after a very relaxing vacation.
I will post the winners of the contest on Independence Day so you still have a couple of days to enter. However, in honor of the beginning of our REFUGE service tonight, I thought I might throw out just a couple of reflections regarding our week stay on the beach.
(1). The tens of thousands of people who joined us on the beach, if presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ by the typical Southern Baptist dressed in his Sunday go to meeting outfit, would immediately think a "cult" had accosted him. Outside of the business world (and in some businesses, inside) the average American has changed in dress, hairstyles, thinking patterns, musical preferences and outlook since the 1950's. We Southern Baptists are often stuck in the 1950's or 1960's. I think it would be helpful for us to remember that the United States is no longer a Christian country, and for people to really be reached with the message of the POWER of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the silly cultural taboo messages of many Southern Baptist churches --- but the power of an incarnate God who died a substitutionary death for sinners, and offers His perfect righteousness to the person who believes on Christ --- we must become all things to all people.
I think our missionaries on the field with the International Mission Board in unreached people groups are almost better prepared philosophically and trained more properly in methodology to reach Americans on our beach coasts than Southern Baptist pastors are. I'm not saying every Southern Baptist church should take this challenge, I am just cautioning Southern Baptists NOT to reject or condemn churches who understand this concept -- and vice versa.
(2). The former Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, governor from 1998-2002, was convicted this past Thursday of several federal offenses, including receiving bribes for political favors. The Governor and his cohort in crime are both highly active in Christian affairs in Alabama, and it is a reminder to us all that people with power, left unchecked and unguarded, become addicted by their power to the point of being anesthetized to their own immoral actions.
Our founding fathers of the United States understood the safety in the separation of powers, and even religious denominations and organizations should be aware of handing too much power into the hands of any one person or oligarchy of people. The same principle applies to the local church, and I'm afraid that in the future we may be finding that several congregations will have to deal with pastors who have assumed total authority of a church and have abused the trust. I am still one, unlike many of my friends, who believe congregational authority in major decisions is still best philosophically, and yes, even Scripturally (the priesthood of every believer).
(3). I was reminded on the beach of Gulf Shores the importance of friendships. Relationships among people are eternal through the grace of Jesus Christ. I have enjoyed making many new friends via the internet and I look forward to another year of blogging. I want to thank my dad for the comment moderation while I was gone.
I wish you all a wonderful Lord's Day ---
For those in Enid --- see you tonight.
In His Grace,