Monday, February 26, 2018

Dr. Patterson, Flowers No Substitute for Answers

Friday we were visiting Rachelle's ailing father in Frisco, Texas when my secretary sent me a text photo of a bouquet sent me from Dr. and Mrs. Patterson, President and First Lady of Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

I'm always appreciative of flowers, and this is the second time I've received such a gift from the Pattersons. The previous floral arrangement came after I began asking questions about the secret decision of Dr. Patterson to admit a professing Muslim into Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in opposition to the school's charter and without approval from the school's trustees.

Those questions eventually led to some uncomfortable answers and an apology issued by Dr. Patterson to the entire Southern Baptist Convention.

The Patterson Retirement Home
I believe the current crop of daisies and mums sent to me by the Pattersons are a result of similar questions being asked about a decision to build a retirement home for the Pattersons on SWBTS school property. I am now asking if the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees voted to approve this retirement home during an open business session - consistent with charter mandated ethical business practice for all SBC agencies - or if that decision was made in secret.

My calls to Southwestern Baptist Theological Trustee Chairman Kevin Ueckert are not being returned. I learned a long time ago that if answers to good questions are not forthcoming when requested in private, then the proper recourse is to ask those questions publicly. (Edit: Technically, I left one electronic message February 6, 2018 and made one additional phone call Friday morning, February 23, 2018 to Chairman Ueckert. That phone call (“not calls”) was returned by Chairman Kevin Ueckert on Monday, February 26, 2018, with a follow-up phone call on Thursday, March 1, 2018. I promised Chairman Ueckert that I would not publish any of our conversations over the phone to allow SWBTS to release an official statement that would answer the questions I’ve posted. The clarity and transparency of Chairman Ueckert were both surprising and refreshing. Agreement on the decisions of SWBTS leadership over the past year may be hard to come by, but praise for the manner in which the questions posed were thoroughly answered is due. Thank you Chairman Ueckert and the SWBTS Executive Committee for the conversation by phone today - the date of the edit -  March 1, 2018).

Though I am appreciative of the flowers sent my way, I would prefer daisies of declaration and disclosure, carnations of call-backs and clarity, and tulips of truth and transparency. Flower arrangements are no substitute for frank authenticity. The former smells good for a few days while the latter issues a fragrance that Southern Baptists will appreciate for generations to come.

Questions that Need To Be Answered

Record Details for Construction

1. On what date did Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees vote to approve building a retirement home for the Pattersons on school property, and where is the public record of this action, including the vote?

2. When filing for code permits for construction of this home, why does the application state "residential" and "single family residence," when the SWBTS public relations department says it is a Baptist Heritage Center and not a residence?

Residential New Building Permit - Page One
3. In making room for the new retirement home for the Pattersons, how many student residential housing units were demolished?

4. Was anyone informed of needs of the young lady with cancer - the wife of an SWBTS student - who was living in student housing while taking her cancer treatments, but was forced to relocate to make room for the construction of the Patterson retirement home on school property?

5. Was there a competitive bidding process on the construction of the new residence built on school property or was the contract awarded to Bailey Draper Custom Homes, son of Dr. Jimmy Draper, without competitive bidding? And, if a competitive bidding process did take place, when were the bids opened, and who determined the winning bid?

6. Did anyone on the trustee board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary request permission from the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention before seeking to raise capital funds for the Patterson retirement home being built on school property, per the constitutional requirement of the Southern Baptist Convention for convention entities?

7. Finally, would the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary allow private capital funds to be raised for any current or future president, administrator, or professor of SWBTS to have their respective retirement homes built on school property, and if not, what is the rationale or principle being followed for secretly allowing the Patterson's home to be built on school property?

More to come.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Culture Built on Feelings Cannot Handle Truth

America is in trouble. 

We've become a people who would rather feel than think. We want to be liked more than we want to learn. We're urged to refrain from speaking what we deem as truth to create an illusion of unity and progress since truth is viewed inferior to complex human emotions.

"If the truth you believe makes me feel bad, then you better not speak lest you offend me," says an entire generation of Americans.

We've created a cultural climate where citizens are free to shout their demands for unconditional affirmation and to intimidate others deemed intolerant because of a truth believed and spoken.

The feelers have been given the forceps.

Spoken truth is being taken, tossed, and trampled on in America.

If an American dares whisper a truth that offends, punishment is swift.

South Korea, Japan,  and the Truth

An American named Joshua Cooper Ramo was punished for truth-telling last week.

Dr. Ramo was hired by NBC as an expert on Asia to comment during the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Dr. Ramo is an expert on Asia, educated at the University of Chicago, and a former Time Magazine foreign editor. He also serves as a top executive at former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's consulting firm.

Dr. Ramo knows Asia.

But when pictures of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared on the screen, Ramo noted that Japan occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945 and then said this:
"Every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological, and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation." 

That's the truth. But South Koreans don't like the truth spoken publicly because it doesn't feel good. It never feels good to give credit for any positive changes that come as a result of former oppression.

NBC, in line with modern American values that feelings always trump truth, removed Dr. Ramo from their television line-up.

The Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, and the Truth

Mark Cuban was levied the largest fine in the history of the NBA for an interview he gave to Dr. Julius Erving on the radio last Sunday.

Mark Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. What was Mark Cuban's crime?

He told the truth.
"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option,'" Cuban said on the podcast. "Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year and a half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players' owner and having stability."
Cuban's comments were "detrimental to the NBA" according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Forget that the Dallas Mavericks have been throwing games to get a higher draft pick in the NBA lottery. It happened last year and Mark Cuban wanted it to happen again this year since the Mavericks are out of the playoff race.

The truth doesn't matter.

Perceptions, feelings, and acceptance are everything.

How the public perceives the NBA is more important than spoken truth by the NBA.

Churches, Pastors, Homosexuality, and the Truth 

A company called Church Clarity is putting pressure on pastors and churches to disclose their views on homosexuality.

The stated purpose is "clarity and transparency," but in reality, it's designed to be a means to intimidate pastors to refrain from speaking their view of truth in public because their view of truth causes people emotional pain.

According to Jonathan Merritt, "The organization’s leaders tell me there is more to come. They will now begin posting quote memes from well-known Christian leaders and pastors who have spoken about the need for clarity but have yet to disclose their positions on this matter."

"If your truth offends us or makes us feel poorly about ourselves, dear pastor," say these modern feelers, "then we'll intimidate you into silence."

The forceps of feelings is extracting truth to bury it.

Billy Graham and the Truth

When Billy Graham died, a young media activist named Lauren Duca tweeted that Billy Graham was a "rotten, evil bitch" and should "rot in hell." 

Why the venom? 

Because Lauren Duca didn't like Billy Graham's version of the truth.

According to her, Billy Graham was a hatemonger because Mr. Graham believed homosexual behavior to be a sin and urged homosexuals to repent of their sin and turn their lives over to Jesus Christ.

That's why Billy Graham should rot in hell.

Mr. Graham hurt her feelings.

"Don't Ever Challenge the Feeler!"

Why are our schools in such terrible shape?

Because we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

Why is in our society addicted to pornography, drugs, and self-absorbed sex?

Because we are too afraid to tell anybody the truth about their behaviors. 

Why are we in trouble as a country?

Because we can't handle the truth.

Truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth.

I close with a video of a student who went off on his teacher. 

If bad language offends you, don't watch the video. If you want to know why we are a country headed toward cultural decline, watch the video.

Feelers have feelings and don't ever speak truth to a feeler or you'll feel the feeler's hatred.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

An Era Has Ended: Billy Graham Is Dead at 99

In 2006 I was near Asheville, North Carolina, and on a whim, Marty Duren, Kevin Bussey, and I went to the home of Billy Graham in Montreat, North Carolina (Black Mountain). I had known Franklin Graham since 1992 when he preached a week-long evangelistic crusade in Enid, Oklahoma, but I had never met his father.

When we arrived, coming out of the massive gate at the front of an iron fence - a fence built by J. Edgar Hoover as a favor to Mr. Graham - was a Graham family member (a niece). She said that her uncle was feeling ill and had lain down to take a nap. She suggested we go to his office in Montreat and that Mr. Graham's assistant would see if we might be able to meet Mr. Graham later that afternoon.

Upon arriving at the Billy Graham offices in Montreat, we walked in and Mr. Graham's assistant greeted us, then surprised me by saying- "Wade, I read your blog regularly." I discovered that though we'd never met, we had several common connections.

For the next hour, we were regaled with stories about Mr. Graham, the meetings that had been held in his private office over the years (the office pictured where Mr. Graham is standing in the portrait to the left), and various other personal anecdotes that I will always treasure. We were able to take several pictures and ask even more questions. It was an afternoon I'll never forget.

Due to Mr. Graham's illness, we were unable to meet him that day. However, within a couple of weeks, I received in the mail his autobiography with a personal note attached. I have since read Mr. Graham's autobiography on at least three occasions and am moved every time I read it.

Evangelist Billy Graham has touched this world in a way that generations to come will remember with fondness. When I heard of his passing this morning, my thoughts went out to his children, grandchildren and extended family.

An era good for our country has come to an end.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Liberty, Tyranny and the Debate Over Gun Control

Emotions are running very high in the United States on the issue of gun control in 2018.

There are friends of mine on both sides of the issue, speaking with equal passion on the subject. 

It's important to remember that every American heart breaks when our children are murdered, regardless of one's position on gun control. While every American may not agree on the solution, every single American grieves over the situation. 

My arguments against increased gun control go against the cultural climate. The principles I advocate run counter to the emotional current of many Americans who feel the pain of mass shootings. That is to be expected. Principled arguments during times of sorrow are like uninvited wedding guests; you may tolerate them for the sake of appearances, but you definitely don't like them or want them.  

Yet the best surgeons with the steadiest hands are those who operate using principles and procedures refined long before the emotional impact of meeting a dying patient.

The debate over gun control should be rooted in wisdom and principles, not emotion and passions.

On two occasions during my lifetime I've been in the middle of a crime scene that involved the deaths of more than one child. The gruesome images have never left me. I feel for the young people in the Florida high school who had to step over their dead friends. I empathize with first responders who cared for the wounded and the dying. My heart goes out to the parents who lost a child as a result of a murderer carrying a gun. I understand what you saw, and I know how you feel. 

If possible, read what follows without emotion and see if it makes sense.

Liberty Is the Principle 

Americans do not need less liberty regarding possessing and carrying guns, we need more.

The reason there are mass shootings like those we've experienced in America is due to the government encroaching on, limiting, and intervening in the personal freedom of individual Americans to openly and continually carry a firearm. 

Let me explain. 

When our country was founded, the nation's Founding Fathers believed in what is called Natural Law. Natural Law is a view that certain rights or values are inherent in - and universally known by - human reason. 

The best summary of Natural Law is contained in the following seventeen-word statement: 
"Do all you have agreed to do and do not encroach on other persons or their property."
Our Founding Fathers believed that every rational human being knows that you don't intrude or infringe on someone else's person or property.

In the early days of our country, when a criminal encroached on another person or property, the criminal was forcibly detained and jailed locally. The courts established the precedent that restitution would be made to the victim(s).

If your property had been taken, the thief would be ordered to return your property and make financial restitution to you for taking it in the first place. If your house were destroyed by an arsonist, the fire starter would be responsible for building you a new home and financially reimbursing you for your inconvenience.

If you were injured or wounded by a criminal, he would have to pay you moneyVictims of crime had their property and personal losses financially restored by the criminal. 

In the case of murder, the murderer would be swiftly brought to justice via execution. It was "a life for a life."

Over time, common law developed within the court system of the United States. As various crimes occurred in the United States and the criminals were caught and brought to court, the judges would look at legal decisions in previous cases to make a ruling on the restitution amount that would be deemed fair and equitable to the victim.

Again, throughout the first few decades of American jurisprudence, two things were true about crime and the courts:
1. The people encroached upon were the victims, not the state.
2. The criminals who encroached made restitution to the victims, not the state.

 The Reason for an Armed Citizenry in a Land of Liberty

Because our forefathers understood the principles of Natural Law, it was necessary that American citizens always have the right to keep and bear arms. Amendment II of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution gives to citizens "the right to keep and bear arms." 

Most Americans don't understand the reasons our forefathers felt the right to keep and bear arms was necessary for a free society to exist.

There were two main reasons.

(1). Our nation's forefathers knew there would be occasions when criminals would not make the court-ordered restitution to their victims.

When that happens in a country built on Natural Law, outlawry is invoked.

Outlawry is the ability for citizens in a civilized society to pass judgment and punish those criminals who refuse to make court-ordered restitution to their victims. 

Most of us understand the term "outlaw," but few of us understand that it is derived from the word outlawry. Outlawry means criminals who run from court-ordered restitution are handed over to society and placed "outside the protection of law."

This is what it meant to be an outlaw. One "outside the law" was Wanted: Dead or Alive.

It did not matter how the outlaw was captured. The outlaw was to be brought dead or alive back to the courts. The state paid the one who captured the outlaw a bounty for the capture.

In the old days, prisons were fairly empty. Incarcerations were limited to those awaiting trial. Once a court ordered the terms of restitution, the criminal was released to work and pay for his crimes. 

It was extremely dangerous for a criminal to run from his responsibility of making restitution for his crimes.

It would cost him his life.

Our Founding Fathers understood the need for civilized society to "keep and bear arms" because a society of free and civilized people was ultimately the highest power in the land. The citizens of the United States would need to keep and bear arms because of outlaws. 

A criminal placed "outside the law" for refusing to pay restitution was to be refused his civil rights. He is an "outlaw" or "out(side) of (the) law."

A modern version of outlawry would be a free and law-abiding teacher in a school, armed with a weapon, shooting and killing a murderer in the act of encroaching on a human life. When a person attempts to take someone else's life, as a citizen of the United States, you are to take action. You are to take that person's life.

Natural Law demands it.

The citizen doesn't wait for "law enforcement" to take action. Our Constitution, built on Natural Law, demands the citizens to take action.

Many believe a country is more civilized when free citizens don't have guns. Our Founding Fathers believed just the opposite. A free society, according to Natural Law, makes the free people of that free society the highest authority--not the state or the government.

Government is of the people, by the people, for the people.

Could law-abiding citizens in a free society make a mistake in dealing with an outlaw? Of course, but the checks and balances on a free people is the knowledge that you might be deemed an outlaw if you violate Natural Law and encroach on an innocent person. 

Natural Law is as much a science as biology, physics, and math. It is understandable regardless of one's religion because it comes from Nature and Nature's God. Natural Law understands that victims are those who experience a crime of encroachment and the criminal is the encroacher.

The United States Government Has Assumed the Role of Victim 

In today's "advanced" society, the criminal pays his or her debt "to the state" (e.g. "prison time"). The criminal who encroaches is no longer forced to pay restitution to the victim. 

Unfortunately, in modern, progressive America, the United States government has replaced the people of the United States. When a state usurps the governance of a free people, the state will eventually devolve into fascism. 

A fascist state does not arise overnight. Just like Germany in the early 20th century, fascism progresses slowly as more and more power is handed to the state and more and more freedoms are taken from the people. 

(2). Our nation's forefathers understood that there could be an occasion when the government violates Natural Law (by encroaching), and it would be the duty of the free citizens of that state to rebel.

Very few Americans know that the reasoning of those we call Patriots, the men, and women who fought their government during the American Revolution, was built upon Natural Law. 

People like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, and others believed that England was encroaching on the people and property of the colonists. 

America's Patriots believed people should always be able to keep and bear arms because there always needs to be the ability for a free people in a free society to revolt against a government that violates Natural Law. England violated the principles of Natural Law, and in obedience to Nature and Nature's God, the American colonists revolted against England.

Thomas Jefferson, when writing the draft of the Constitution of Virginia, wrote:
 "No free man shall be debarred the use of arms."
 Alexander Hamilton wrote:
"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." (The Federalist Papers, pages 184-188). 
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it."
These men understood that any government which removes the right to keep and bear arms from her free citizens takes a gigantic step toward statist fascism.

So, though we grieve over the mass murder at Sandy Hook, and though we deplore acts of violence by criminals throughout our land, we should resist with all our might any intrusion by the government to take weapons from us.

Natural Law demands free citizens have the right to be armed.

As a Christian, I may choose not to bear arms, choosing instead to turn the other cheek and to live like Jesus Christ lived. But as an American citizen, I feel I must resist any effort by the state to take weapons from her citizens. 

It's not a biblical principle on which I stand regarding gun control. It's not a Christian principle I am promoting. 

It's a matter of liberty vs. tyranny.

It's a matter of Natural Law.

Natural Law demands that I advocate against the government removing the liberty of our citizenry being armed, lest this great land of liberty become infected with dictatorial tyranny.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Jesus or Jezebel and the Just Sentence of Death

As Jesus was dying on the cross, He bled in four places: Atop His skull where the Romans had placed a crown of thorns, in the middle of His two palms where the soldiers hammered nails into His outstretched hands, and at his feet where a giant nail was driven through His feet, one foot aligned on top of the other.

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)  bled in fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17).

1500 years before the death of Jesus, the first Passover lambs were slain by the Hebrews at God's command (see Exodus 12).

The blood of the original Passover lambs was placed on the door of the Hebrew homes in four places: Atop the door (i.e. 'the crown'), on both sides of the door (i.e. 'the outstretched palms'), and at the threshold  (i.e. 'the feet').

The Passover lamb died as the means through which God delivered His people from their slavery in Egypt.

As the Hebrews ate the Passover lamb inside their blood covered homes, the angel of death came to visit Egypt. The angel "passed over" every home where the blood had been applied. Thus, from that first Passover until today, the Hebrews commemorate that night with a meal they call Passover.

The Egyptian people, however,  did not appropriate the Passover lamb, and so they did not escape the judgment of death. In every Egyptian family, the firstborn child died.

As the Egyptians mourned the deaths of their firstborn, the Hebrews left their bondage in Egypt and made their way to the Promised Land (Exodus 12:29-30).

The judgment of death that first Passover came upon the Egyptians at the midnight hour.

You can watch actor Charleston Heston play Moses in The 10 Commandments, a 1956 film which reenacts the first Hebrew Passover and is broadcast on American national television every Easter.

But the real-life fulfillment of Passover occurred 2,000 years ago - 1500 years after Moses' original Passover - when Jesus the Messiah came to die as God's Passover Lamb for the world.

Jesus As God's Passover Lamb

Why did Jesus die?

That simple question will get you some very complex answers from people who study theology. I'm going to simplify it.

1. Jesus died as a demonstration of Divine love.
2. Jesus died as a substitution for human death.
3. Jesus died as a propitiation of Divine wrath.

The first reason Jesus died was to demonstrate God's love for us.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..." (John 3:16).
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life..." (John 15:13).
The second reason Jesus died was to take our place bearing the judgment of death as our Substitute.
"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us" (II Corinthians 5:21).
"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." (Romans 5:6-9)
The third reason Jesus died was to make sinners 'at-one' with God forever through Him.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
"We also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation with God" (Romans 5:11).
It's this third and last reason which causes so much confusion for people. When the Bible speaks of the "wrath of God" (see Romans 1:18) we often wrongly think of the anger of a drunk, abusive earthly father, or the tirades of an unjust and uncivil boss, or the brooding silence of an angry spouse.

Rarely do we see God's righteous anger in human form.

I've seen it a few times in my work as a police chaplain. I once saw righteous anger in a judge who pronounced the death sentence for a killer who coldly and brutally murdered four victims (I did the funeral for one of the murderer's victims).

Righteous anger is rarely seen today because we're not often around judges who justly pronounce a sentence of death on the wicked. Usually, the anger we see or experience comes from peers who unjustly take vengeance.

God is the Supreme Judge. As Christians, we are to wait for Him to execute righteous judgment on the wicked:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge: I will repay," says the Lord. (Romans 5:19).
On the cross, Jesus bore God's righteous sentence for sin.

God, in His love for sinners, sent His Son to be the Substitute for sinners, bearing death - the just punishment from God for sin, so that sinners "covered by Christ's death" will live forever and not forever die.

Christ's death is the reconciliation - or an "at-one-moment" - between a holy God and lawbreakers who deserve death.

Death As the Righteous Punishment for Sin

When God demonstrates His wrath, He does it right. That's why it is called "right-eous" wrath. No one is able to question the justness of it.

The display of God's wrath will always be proven right.

Through death, God eradicates evil.
"The Lord will destroy the wicked" (Psalm 145:20).
"But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked." (Psalm 37:28).
"He shall punish the wicked with everlasting destruction" (II Thessalonians 1:9).
The final and full display of God's wrath toward sin - and His full and His free gift of eternal life for sinners who have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior - is still to come.
"For a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear My voice and come out" (John 5:28)
The apostle Paul said it like this:
"And I have the same hope in God...that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." (Acts 24:15).
At that final judgment after the resurrection, called "the wrath to come" - the wrath from which Jesus, as God's Passover Lamb, rescues His people (see I Thessalonians 1:10) - the wicked will be judged for their sins in this life and die a "second time."

But this "second death" (Revelation 20:14), unlike the first death, is called everlasting because there will be no reversal, no hope of deliverance, no future resurrection.

Contrary to the unbiblical view that God tortures sinners in hell forever, the Bible teaches that the wicked die everlastingly as a just punishment for their sins.

We can be sure that "the wicked will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 11:21).
"The wicked will perish for their sins" (Psalm 37:20).
However, there is some Good News.

The immortal God - in love for sinners - took upon Himself mortal flesh - in order to die as a Substitute for sinners - giving everlasting life to those who are in Christ because a holy God is "at-one" with sinners through the work of Jesus Christ.
"Be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Savior" (Acts 2:36).
In this life, the assurance you have that Jesus is your Saviour is Jesus is your Lord.

He either becomes King of your life during this present life or He is not your Savior from death and Giver of everlasting life.

Jesus died that you might live.

But not all sinners want Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives.

Jezebel's Death Pictures God's Final and Righteous Judgment toward Sinners

Jezebel is a picture of the wicked who die outside of Christ.

The name Jezebel means "chaste or pure," but like every person created by God to be free from evil, Jezebel is one who turns from God and lives licentiously, immorally, and selfishly.

Jezebel is a picture of one who lives independent of God (see Revelation 2:20).

The way God's judgment fell on Jezebel at her first death is a type or picture of God's righteous judgment on all who are turned over to everlasting death on the day of judgment.

You can read how Jezebel died in II Kings 9:30-37.
"But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet, and her hands."
The only thing left after the dogs had consumed Jezebel's body in the streets were the crown of her head, her two hands, and her feet.

The very places that Jesus bled on the cross.

A sinner experiences death as the righteous judgment from God, or a sinner will find that the judgment of death "passes over" because the Lamb has given His life (eg 'bled') in place of the sinner (e.g. "as the sinner's Substitute').

Or to put it succinctly:
The everlasting Messiah dies in the place of sinners or sinners die an everlasting death themselves.
The difference between the two potential destinies of sinners - everlasting life or everlasting death - is determined by the sinner's embrace of the Lamb of God.
"Kiss His Son, or God will be angry and your way will lead to destruction" (Psalm 2:12).
"And into the eternal city will be brought...only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 2:27).

The Wicked Will Be Erased from Memory

After Jezebel died, the Bible says "No one was able to say, 'This is Jezebel" (II Kings 9:37).

There was no memory of her. There was no memorial to her. There were no remnants of her except those pieces that are a reminder of the death of Jesus (e.g. "the skull, the hands, the feet").

Jezebel was gone.

So too, very soon, the wicked will go the way of Jezebel.
"A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found" (Psalm 37:10).
Jesus or Jezebel.

Both deaths represent the two different and ultimate ends for sinners.

One death brings life; the other death brings shame, contempt, and the loss of identity.
"For God so loved this world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Al Mohler's Unbiblical Belief that New Testament Gender Equality Means Affirming Homosexuality

Recently Dr. Al Mohler released an article entitled All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand: A Portrait of Theological Disaster.

Dr. Mohler, President of Southern Theological Seminary, writes that he believes the numerical decline of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is due to that denomination's affirmation of homosexual behavior. Mohler believes that the CBF leadership is caught in the trap of being forced to affirm homosexuality by "millennials" in the CBF while at the same time attempting to prevent "the loss of support from (CBF) churches outraged by any policy condoning homosexuality."

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship broke off from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1991. Interestingly, many of the conservative/moderate churches in the CBF are opposed to any affirmation of homosexuality, believing homosexual behavior is categorized as sin in Scripture.

The CBF has recently released a report entitled Honoring Autonomy and Reflecting the Fellowship which has, according to Mohler, "infuriated LGBT proponents and alienated more conservative CBF churches."

Mohler's thesis in his article is that the problems in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are "the inevitable result of the abandonment of the full truthfulness and authority of Scripture."

I happen to agree with Mohler that those of us who believe the Bible to be truthful, inspired, and authoritative also believe that homosexual behavior is a sin against God.

However, Al Mohler goes on to make this statement:
"This (eg. 'affirming homosexuality') is also the logical consequence of adopting a hermeneutic that allows for the service of women as pastors — for many Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregations, the key issue of outrage at the Southern Baptist Convention. The same negotiation and “reinterpretation” of the biblical text that allows for the service of women pastors will logically lead to the acceptance of the LGBT revolution. How can it not? Individuals and congregations may refuse to take this next step, but they have surrendered the only binding argument that would offer an objective truth claim. Eventually, the revolutionaries will win, and they know it. Clearly, some appear unwilling to wait."
Sorry, Dr. Mohler.

You don't get a pass on this one.

Many Bible-believing, Christ-honoring people, pastors, and denominations see the New Testament Scriptures to teach that followers of Christ serve according to their giftedness, not their gender.

And these same Christians believe the New Covenant Scriptures also portray homosexuality - as well as other sexual acts outside of a marriage between one man and one woman - as sin.

Catherine Clark Kroeger has written an insightful article entitled Does Belief in Women's Equality Lead to an Acceptance of Homosexual Practice?

No Bible-believing, Christ-honoring follower of Jesus can read Catherine's article and arrive at Mohler's illogical and unbiblical conclusion that affirmation of New Testament gender equality - with distinctions of service based on giftedness - ever equates to an affirmation of homosexuality.

I would encourage Dr. Mohler and others like him to be careful of painting theological constructs with such a broad brush.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Valentine's Day - The Lost Art of Ascending in Love

Falling in love.

The phrase is an oxymoron. It's a figure of speech that is contradictory.

It's like saying "I'm falling to the summit of Everest" or "I'm falling to the office of CEO."

You may fall in lust, but you can't fall in love.

Love requires effort.

The creation didn't fall into place by accident. The Sistine Chapel isn't great artistry because Michelangelo did nothing. Transcendent greatness requires a creator who cares.

Love is an art. Love takes knowledge, effort, and perseverance. Love is something you ascend to, not something you fall in.

Since one falls into lust and ascends into love, the greatest artists of love are those who understand the differences between love and lust.

Lust is a feeling of pleasure that attaches to me like a virus. I'm not sure where it comes from, I only know I have it by the symptoms it brings, it usually ends in some form of pain, and I need help from others to identify it and get rid of it.

On the other hand...
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it does not boast, and is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, and it is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (I Corinthians 13:4-8). 
Therefore, love is an art and lust is an appetite. Love is selfless and lust is self-absorbed. Love is of God and lust is of myself.

Love takes work because it's not a natural attribute of the naturally self-absorbed.

Valentine's Day 

Americans will spend nearly $12 billion dollars on flowers, candies, and cards that say "I Love You." 

The ancient Romans gave Americans this holy day called Valentine's.  The Romans celebrated an annual festival in February called Lupercalia,  Roman men stripped naked, sacrificed a goat and a dog, and then whipped naked women in the marketplace with the hides of the animals they just killed.

Young women would actually line up for the Roman men to hit them, believing participation in the festival would make them fertile and the festival would be the means for the ladies to find strong, handsome, virile men to whom they could mate.

The Romans were kings and queens of lust.

On February 14, during a Lupercalia festival in the 3rd century, Roman emperor Claudius II executed two men on  - both named Valentine - for their rebellion against the emperor. Both Valentines followed another King they called Jesus.

After the fall of Rome, the Roman Catholic Church took to calling February 14 Valentine's Day in honor of the two Christian martyrs who died during Lupercalia.

Though the name has changed from Lupercalia to Valentine's, the spirit behind both holidays remains the same.

Even Christians tend to forget that love is an art which you ascend and attain and not an aura into which you fall and remain

If I say, "I love my church," but I'm looking for what I can get from my church rather than what I give to the people who make up the church, then I'm infected with lust.

If I say, "I love my spouse,"  but I'm looking to receive something from my spouse rather than to give patience, kindness, forgiveness, hope, protection, truth, honor, and perseverance to my spouse, then I may need a fresh reminder of the difference between love and lust.

Love is an art.

And the only way to learn how to love is to take a class from the Master Artist.
"Love one another. As I have loved you," Jesus said.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Paige and Dorothy Patterson’s Retirement Home Built on the Property of Southwestern Seminary

The Patterson Retirement Home
Dr. Paige Patterson and his wife Dorothy, nearing retirement as President and First Lady of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, are having their retirement home built on the seminary property.

The decision by the Executive Committee of Southwestern Theological Seminary's trustees to allow the Pattersons to live out their retirement years on the grounds of SWBTS needs to be questioned by the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention for many reasons.

Before articulating these reasons, let me state that I personally like Paige and Dorothy Patterson. I've found them to be hospital hosts, zealous for evangelism, and filled with humor. It's no secret that I have challenged Dr. Patterson on several fronts, including allowing a practicing Muslim entrance to the Seminary in violation of both the seminary's charter and purpose, firing the finest Hebrew professor in the Southern Baptist Convention "because she was female," and various other issues over the years.

Differing on principles does not equate to disliking the persons.

On many occasions, there have been professors, trustees, students, and graduates of Southwestern Theological Seminary who have contacted me with concerns. I have declined to say or write anything about several issues brought to my attention. This post is written not because I do not wish the Pattersons to live out their golden years in comfort, but rather,  I and many others believe the decision to allow them to live on school property is troublesome on several fronts.

1. The controversial decision to allow the Pattersons to live on SWBTS's campus after retirement has been driven by Dr. Patterson and voted on in secret by the Executive Committee of the seminary's trustees, not during open plenary sessions of all trustees. 

A former chairman of the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary let it be known that “The retirement home for the Pattersons will not be built on school property during my watch.”

Dr. Patterson waited until that man’s watch ticked out.

Kevin Ueckert, SWBTS Trustee Chairman
Whether the current trustee chairman,  Dr. Kevin Ueckert of FBC Georgetown, Texas, is in favor of the Patterson retirement home being built on school property under his watch,  is a matter open for discussion. However, if the decision was made during an Executive Session by the Executive Committee of the SWBTS trustees, then one would assume the chairman voted "Yes."

On January 31, 2018, I contacted Dr. Ueckert via Messenger and asked him several questions. To date, I've not received any responses to my questions.  The current chairman is a young pastor, a graduate of Southwestern Theological Seminary, and he has a long pastoral career in front of him.

Interestingly, on February 6, 2018, one week after my queries, the Southern Baptist Texan, the Southern Baptists in Texas conservative newsletter, led by Jim Richards, friend to Paige Patterson, posted a long interview with Dr. Paige Patterson where a handful of my questions were answered, raising even more concerns.

The article states that "this vision was planted a long while back by an idea a trustee (had) at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where Patterson was president."

Notice the directional change. The idea began at Southeastern and finds fruition at Southwestern.

What idea was planted at Southeastern? The article continues:
"Phillip Mercer and his wife wanted to build the Pattersons a retirement home – anywhere."
The Patterson retirement home at SWBTS, Ft. Worth, Texas
That retirement home is being built on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Unfortunately, when the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary voted on building the retirement home over a year ago, the seminary trustees gave the impression that they were approving a $2.5 million dollar Baptist Heritage Center to archive materials, libraries, and collections of famous Southern Baptists, and possibly have rooms to temporarily house a few missionaries on furlough or who were visiting SWBTS. At the time, the trustees either intentionally refused to address and vote on whether the Pattersons should live in the Baptist Heritage Center during open session, or even worse, were never made aware of the true use of the proposed building.

There is no public record of the trustees approving this building as the Patterson's retirement home. The trustees are obligated to report such actions made during their plenary sessions to the Southern Baptist Convention. There has never been a report to the Southern Baptist Convention that this decision to build a retirement home for the Pattersons on school property was made by the trustees.

Interestingly, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, SBC This Week published an article entitled "Patterson Discusses Retirement Plans" and made this incredible statement (emphasis mine):
"While not announced in the trustee meeting recap, the Southwestern executive committee of the trustee board officially extended an invitation in September 2017 for the Pattersons to reside in the Baptist Heritage Center as its first theologians-in-residence at a time to be determined later."
Let that sink in. Behind closed doors. In Executive Session. No reporting of the decision to the Southern Baptist Convention. Trustee boards are supposed to be transparent.

Someone has rightly said, "We are only as sick as our secrets." Our convention will never be healthy and Kingdom-minded as long as we allow a decision like this to be made behind closed doors. 

Yesterday (February 7, 2018), Baptist Press issued a statement from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary entitled "Conservative Resurgence Archives To Be Housed at New SWBTS Center." 

It seems that since I have begun privately asking questions of leadership, SWBTS is now making public that, indeed, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson will be living out their retirement years on the property of Southwestern Theological Seminary. However, in finally making public this decision which the seminary trustee executive committee made in private, the seminary's public relations department is emphasizing "This will be a Baptist Heritage Center."

No, it's not. It's a retirement home.

If it is truly a Baptist Heritage Center, then the Pattersons would not be living in it.

2. The decision to construct the Patterson retirement home on the property of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary property must be addressed by the Southern Baptist Convention. 

A healthy minority of SWBTS trustees are embarrassed - borderline angry - that the Pattersons have been granted by the trustee executive committee the right to live out their retirement years among facilities paid for by over $372,000,000 Cooperative Program dollars. That's correct. The Southern Baptist Convention has forwarded to Southwestern Theological Seminary over $372 million Cooperative Program dollars since the founding of the seminary. 

The Southern Baptist Convention should have a say whether or not a retirement home for a former president should be built on institutional grounds.  The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are accountable to the SBC, not the President of the institution they serve. The President is supposed to work for them; not the other way around.

Can the seminary's trustees make these kinds of decisions without approval of the Southern Baptist Convention? Of course. But as stated above, this decision should have been debated during open forum plenary trustee sessions, should have been voted upon and votes recorded in the minutes, and those minutes should have been reported out to the Southern Baptist Convention in the recap of the trustee plenary sessions.

Institutional trustees answer to the Southern Baptist Convention. When there is transparency and accountability like there is supposed to be at our convention, the process actually works.

This matter should be addressed by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention this June in Dallas, Texas. The secrecy of the decision is troublesome enough, but in the long run, the precedent set by this decision may cause even more, unexpected problems in the future.

3.  Having a former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on the property during the tenure of a new president is unhealthy for the institution on several fronts. 
a. Ask any new pastor if he wants the former pastor officing next door to him?
b. Ask Paige Patterson if he would have wanted Ken Hemphill living on school property when he took over?  There may be some real irony here in that Dr. Ken Hemphill is running for President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and will be voted on this June in Dallas, Texas.
c. Ask any church if they think it would be wise to build a second parsonage for their retiring pastor, next door to the current parsonage which will house the "yet to be named" new pastor?
d. Ask any newly married woman if it's wise for her husband to build a home for his ex-girlfriend next door to the couples' home?
Dr. Patterson's friend told him he would build him a retirement home anywhere. 

Anywhere. Last time I checked, anywhere meant anywhere.

Why in the name of the Southern Baptist Convention is it being built on the property of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary? 

4. If a court finds Paige Patterson guilty of conspiring to cover-up a sexual assault, are the Pattersons asked to leave, and are stained glass windows removed?

The Cover Page of the Lawsuit
Last December 27, 2017, Paul Pressler was accused in a lawsuit, filed in Harris County court, of sexually assaulting Gareld Duane Rollins, Jr., beginning in 1979 when Rollins was 14-years-old. The suit alleges decades of molestation and sexual abuse

The suit also names Paige Patterson in the lawsuit. Rollins alleges that Paige was knowledgeable of the abuse and helped cover it up. The victim is seeking over $1 million dollars in damages. 

On at least one mission trip overseas, Dr. Patterson and Dorothy Patterson were present with Paul Pressler and young Gareld Rollins. The Texas Monitor is reporting on this case with regularity. 

I have no knowledge of whether or not the claims in the lawsuit have merit, but reading the actual papers filed makes one's stomach turn. 

Suppose that a jury or a judge finds Dr. and Mrs. Patterson guilty of conspiring to cover-up sexual molestation of a minor. Will the Southern Baptist Convention or Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary like having the Pattersons living in their retirement house on school property? 

Again, whether or not the Pattersons are guilty is not the issue. 

One should always be careful before placing stained glass windows of living people in places of worship.

Stains come other ways than just in glass. 

5. The Southern Baptist Convention is constitutionally controlled by the people.

If this home is brought to completion in the fall of 2018, and if the Pattersons move into that home, the Southern Baptist Convention will have nobody to blame but ourselves. 

The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are accountable to the convention, which means us.

I want the Patterson's to have their retirement home. I am appreciative of generous, kind Southern Baptist benefactors who desire the Patterson's to have a home of their own during retirement.

That home should not be on the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary school property.

You may contact the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to obtain the names, address, and contact information for the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Trembling at God's Judgment and the Day of Wrath

John Battaglia and his daughters, Liberty and Faith
A man died today. 

Executed by the state. 

His name was John Battaglia, and he died by lethal injection. 

Asked by the executioner if he had any last words, John Battaglia said "No." But then he changed his mind, looked at his ex-wife Mary Jean, and smiled broadly. Then he said, "Well, hi, Mary Jean. I'll see you later." 

Facing imminent death, John Battaglia continued to taunt his ex-wife, the mother of the two small girls he'd shot and killed in cold blood in 2001; a crime John Battaglia celebrated and embraced until the end. 

The executioner injected Battaglia with the drug pentobarbital. 

Battaglia closed his eyes, but a few seconds later opened them, lifted his head, and mockingly asked, "Am I still alive?"

Within minutes the lethal drug took effect. John Battaglia fell asleep and began snoring. Seconds later he stopped breathing. 

John Battaglia died. 

Mr. Battaglia seemed to hold to a view of the afterlife that included two things:

1. He'd see people again.
2. He welcomed his death.

John Battaglia should have trembled.

The Sins of John Battaglia

In 2001, the man executed today was a successful Dallas accountant. However, he was estranged from his wife, Mary Jean. In an attempt to "get back" at his estranged wife, John Battaglia shot and killed their 9-year old and 6-year old daughters, while on the speaker phone with his wife.

According to prosecutors, Battaglia had become angry that Mary Jean had notified police about his harassment of her. John Battaglia used a planned visit with their daughters to act on his anger against his estranged wife.

Mary Jean returned a call from one of her daughters and heard 9-year-old Faith pleading with her father. John Battaglia then put the call on speakerphone so his estranged wife could hear what he was doing to Faith and Liberty, their two little girls.

"No, daddy, please don't, don't do it!" Faith begged.

Mary Jean yelled into the phone for her girls to run, then she heard gunshots.

"Merry ... Christmas," Battaglia told Mary Jean, the words of the holiday greeting derisively divided by an obscenity.

There were more gunshots. Mary Jean called 911.

Faith was shot three times, Liberty five. Hours later, Battaglia was arrested outside at a tattoo shop where he had two large red roses inked on his left arm to commemorate his daughters. It took four officers to subdue him. A fully loaded revolver was found in his truck, and more than a dozen firearms were recovered from his apartment.

The Fear of the Lord for His Wrath against Sin

Today the biblical understanding of God's wrath has fallen on hard times. It's like it is impossible for  God to ever experience righteous anger in the minds of modern millennials. 

While writing this piece I saw on the television monitor the father of a girl that had been sexually abused by Larry Nassar jump over the courtroom railing and charge the sexual predator in anger

I understood the father's feelings. 

If you touch my little girl the way Nassar touched over nearly 200 girls, then I might feel the very same emotion that led this father to go after Nassar in anger.

Listen to Jesus:  
"And everyone who commits an offense against one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be profitable for him that a donkey's millstone would be hung around his neck and he be sunk in the depths of the sea." (Matthew 18:6 Aramaic Translation). 
That sounds like an angry Father to me.

It is a common theme for many to argue that God can't be angry because God is love. I like the way my earthly father puts it. "God defines love, but love doesn't define God."

God is more than just love. 

He is just. 

The Just Wrath of God

The apostle Paul writes:
 “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5). 
We understand from Paul's words that

1. God’s wrath is proportional to a person's sinfulness (e.g., "you are storing up wrath").
2. God's righteous judgment against sin will be revealed in "a day of wrath."

A wise man named Solomon wrote these words;
“If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”  (Proverbs 24:12). 
J.I. Packer gives a clear and concise summary of God's wrath:
“God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil” (Knowing God, p. 151).
An Unrepentant Sinner Should Tremble Thinking of God's Wrath
"Behold the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked" (Jeremiah 30:23)
"The Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. (Nahum 1:2)
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth"  (Romans 1:18)
"From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty" (Revelation 19:15).
"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord" (Romans 12:19).
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
The Wicked Will Be Raised from the Dead to Face God's Judgment

Jesus taught that the wicked will be raised from death by the power of God: 
“Marvel not at this: for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment [damnation—KJV]” (John 5:28-29).
The Apostle Paul taught the same thing:
“But this I confess unto you, that after the Way which they call a sect, so serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:14-15).
The Apostle John taught the same thing:
“The sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Rev. 20:13).
Jesus was very clear about what unrepentant sinners were to fear:
“And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
The term “resurrection” is translated from the Greek word anastasis. It is derived from two roots — ana, “up,” and histemi, “to cause to stand.”

Resurrection is the rising up of that which has been laid down. The body that dies and is laid to rest (or burned, drowned, etc.) will be caused to stand up again.

The Bible teaches that the resurrected body will be a different essence (1 Corinthians 15:42) of the individual's presence.

The seed (e.g., "body") is planted in the ground. The plant that rises (e.g. "the resurrected body") is from the seed, but different than the seed. 
Two points are important to keep in mind.

1. First, each body will retain its own individuality (“each seed a body of its own” 1 Cor. 15:38).
2. There will be an identity continuum between the old body and the new body and the individual's surroundings. In other words, in the resurrection, there will be a continuation of physical life. Resurrected people aren't angels or demons. Resurrected people are people
The Resurrection of the Wicked To Judgment Is Something To Be Feared

Back to John Battaglia and his execution.

He shouldn't have been smiling. He should have been trembling.

He shouldn't have welcomed death. He should have feared it deeply.
"For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
I believe the Bible clearly teaches that the wicked do not live forever. I also believe the Bible clearly teaches that at the end of God's judgment against the wicked there is death again (e.g., "The second death.").

However, I believe the Bible teaches that the wicked should tremble...tremble...tremble... at the coming Judgement.

Why do I not tremble?

Because I trust in God's amazing love for sinners who repent and come to faith in Jesus the Anointed One

This is the Good News:
 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
 Charles Wesley speaks for me:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain!
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

You should have trembled, John Battaglia. You should have trembled.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

The Life and Legacy of Enid's Marvella Belle Bayh

Marvella Belle Bayh
"It came to me - even if we were to live to be a hundred years old - that life is really short. Therefore, it is important to enjoy life and not rush so fast. Take time to smell the roses." Marvella Bayh

President Jimmy Carter and Vice-President Walter Mondale walked slowly out the front doors of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  President Carter had just finished his eulogy of 46-year-old Marvella Bayh of Enid, Oklahoma, the first Presidential eulogy ever given in the National Cathedral.

Marvella's widowed husband, Indiana Senator Birch Bayh,  remained inside with the couple's only son, 23-year-old Evan Bayh while the other funeral guests filed out of the service.

Across the street photographers and cameramen aimed their lenses at the cathedral's doors to catch a glimpse of the dignitaries who had honored Marvella with their tributes at the funeral memorial.

Behind the President and Vice-President walked Lady Bird Johnson,  The former First Lady's tribute to Marvella moved many to tears. President Johnson had died suddenly of a massive heart attack just six years earlier, and Lady Bird spoke knowingly and emotionally of the pain involved in losing a loved one from premature death. The Bayh family had been frequent dinner guests of President Johnson and Lady Bird during the Johnsons' tenure in the White House.

Next out the doors came  Senator Ted Kennedy. The Senator from Massachusetts had often told people that Evan and Marvella Bayh had saved his life. The Bayhs were the Senator's guests in a small plane that crashed while flying to a political fundraiser on June 19, 1964. Senator Bayh was the keynote speaker for the fundraiser on behalf of Senator Kennedy. The plane crash killed the pilot and an aide and had it not been for the heroic actions of the Bayhs, the crash would most likely have killed Senator Kennedy too.  Senator Bayh and Marvella were also injured in the crash, but Senator Bayh dragged an unconscious Kennedy from the burning plane while Marvella sought help from a nearby farmhouse.

Dozens of U.S. senators and representatives, federal judges, and Carter administration employees filed out next. Many, from both sides of the aisle, were personal friends with the Bayhs. Following the politicians walked evangelist Oral Roberts who had brought the message from Scripture. Next to Mr. Roberts was Pat Boone, who had sung Marvella's favorite gospel hymn "Where Could I Go But to the Lord" during the service.

After about 10 minutes, Senator Birch Baye and his son Evan Baye came out of the cathedral, holding red roses.

The date was Friday, April 27, 1979.

Nine Years Earlier

Scene of the homicide/suicide in Enid, Oklahoma
The Enid police officer policeman opened the front door of the little home at 2024 West Oklahoma in Enid, Oklahoma on a cool Wednesday morning, April 1, 1970.

The officer discovered what he'd been told he would find. Delbert Hern, 60, was reclining in his chair, dead, with a 32-caliber gun still lodged in his hand.

On the floor lay Mr. Hern's 35-year-old deceased wife. She'd been shot once in the head.  Police would later say she'd been shot and killed while lighting a cigarette.

The Enid police had been called to the home by Kermit Wood, a man who rented the apartment behind the Hern home. Mr. Wood had stopped by the Hern house to pay his rent. That's when he discovered the bodies and called the police.

Garfield County Assistant District Attorney Norman A. Lamb would later tell reporters that the deaths were "an apparent murder and suicide."

Mr. Delbert Hern was the father of Marvella Belle (née Hern) Bayh, the wife of Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, the man many considered to be the frontrunner for the 1972 Democratic Presidential nomination to challenge Republican President Richard Nixon. Delbert Hern had remarried after Marvella's mother, Bernetta, died in April 1964, her death the culmination of years fighting debilitating physical illnesses. Those in the Enid community who knew Mr. Hern, saw him begin to struggle with alcohol after the death of Bernetta. The woman he'd shot and killed before turning the gun on himself was twenty-five years younger than he, and they'd not been married long.

Senator Bayh and Marvella were in Monte Carlo, Monaco when news of the tragic deaths reached them. Marvella flew from Europe to Oklahoma to take care of her father's and step-mother's funeral arrangements.

One week later, Marvella Belle Bayh gave the eulogy for her father. Those present at the service remarked at the poise and eloquence of the only child of Delbert Hern. Marvella, full of emotion, shared the love she had for her alcoholic father, encouraging people to remember who Delbert was, not who the abuse of alcohol had led him to become.

Long-time Enid newspaper writer and historian Phil Brown once remarked to me, "Marvella's words at her father's funeral composed the most moving funeral eulogy I've ever heard."

Less than nine years later, Marvella Belle Bayh would die after a courageous battle with breast cancer, leading to many more eloquent words spoken by others at her funeral.

Marvella Bayh may be the most famous woman from Enid, Oklahoma that a younger generation of Oklahomans has never heard about. I hope to change that in this post.

In my opinion, Oklahomans, especially people from Enid, should remember and honor this remarkable woman.

The Early Years

Marvella Hern was born February 14, 1933, in Enid, Oklahoma to Delbert Hern and Bernett E. (née Monson) Hern. Marvella's mom had complications during pregnancy and delivery, and after she gave birth to her daughter that she named Marvella Belle Hern, Bernett Hern suffered complications that led to years of physical disability, and the inability to bear any additional children.

Marvella Hern at Girl's State (Oklahoma)
But Marvella Belle thrived as an only child.

Her father, Delbert Hern, was a successful farmer near Lahoma, Oklahoma, a little town just southwest of Enid. He chaired the Garfield County Democratic party, raised cattle and wheat, and doted on his only daughter.

After the family relocated to a home in Enid when Marvella was a teenager, she attended Enid High School, becoming the first female to be elected President of the Enid High School student body.

In 1949, the fall of her junior year at EHS, Marvella Hern was elected Girls' Nation President. Marvella met with President Harry Truman in Washington, D.C.  and she traveled to many different states, representing Girls' Nation.

Marvella returned to Enid in time for her senior year of high school, graduating in the spring of 1950.

In 1951, during her spring freshman semester at Oklahoma State University,  Marvella Hern entered the Oklahoma Farm Bureau's extemporaneous speaking championship.

Marvella swept through state competition and found herself in the Farm Bureau national championship speaking finals against an older college student from Purdue University, a boxing champion named Birch Bayh (pronounced "bye"). Bayh, a farmer’s son and Ag major in his senior year at Purdue, first met the OSU freshman beauty during the national speech contest's finals. Birch offered Marvella a seat, and she would later tell people he gave her the corny line, “Oklahoma, come on over and join Indiana.”

Birch Bayh always said,  "It was just plain old love at first sight.”

Marvella won the national championship after a head-to-head challenge against Birch, who would go home after the contest and tell his parents:
"I didn't win, but I do expect to win the girl who did." 
He did.

Marriage and Politics

After a brief courtship, Birch Baye and the Enid, Oklahoma girl married on August 24. 1952.

Birch and Marvella moved to the Bayh family farm near Terre Haute, Indiana, and Birch tried his hand at farming. Marvella transferred her credits and began attending Indiana State University part-time while supporting her husband's farming venture.

Marvella was the guiding force in her husband's life.

It was Marvella who urged Birch to run for the Indiana Legislature in 1954, to go to law school at Indiana University and to run for the Senate in 1962. In the Senate race, Birch Bayh defeated the longtime incumbent, Homer Capehart, in what was termed a political upset. Many credited Marvella for the victory. She often was the main speaker on the stump trail, and people were giving her standing ovations after making the case why Indiana voters should vote for her husband. 

Speaking didn't come as easily for Marvella as it did in college.

Marvella Bayh suffered traumatic injuries in a car accident in 1954 while the couple traveled to Enid, Oklahoma, to visit Marvella's parents. The Terre Haute Tribune reported on the crash:
Birch E. Bayh Jr., 26 years old, and his wife, Marvella, 21 years old, are patients at a Lebanon, Missouri hospital as the result of a two-car crash near that city Thursday night (February 18, 1954). Bayh is reported to have suffered cuts and bruises and Mrs Bayh serious chest and head injuries. Bayh was said to have been driving over the top of a hill when the two cars collided. He and his wife were on their way to Enid, Oklahoma, to visit Mrs. Bayh's parents.
Marvella would suffer from double-vision for the rest of her life because of the accident, but through perseverance, she managed to graduate from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1960 with a degree in education. 

Senator Birch Bayh, Marvella Bayh, and son Evan Bayh
After Birch Bayh won his Senate race in 1962 and moved to Washington, D.C., Marvella Baye became a sensation in the nation's capital. She was called "The Jackie of Indiana." The Bayhs enjoyed company with President Kennedy and First Lady Jackie, and the social columns of the newspapers identified Marvella as "the most intelligent and most beautiful woman in Washington."

Katherine Graham the first female publisher of  a major American newspaper, the Washington Postwould write in her memoirs:
"There is a great deal that I liked about Marvella Bayh. Marvella, who was more than ten years younger than I, came to Washington at the beginning of 1963, just after her young husband, Birch Bayh, was first elected to the Senate as a Democrat from Indiana. She experienced Washington in the 1960's as 'a wife of...', just as I did before Phil's death and my own going to work. Marvella worked just as hard as Birch to settle in -- doing everything from buying and furnishing a house, making a home for their son, Evan, while her husband flew back and forth to his home state nearly every weekend, and keeping up with all of the issues that it was so necessary to understand."
On June 19, 1964, Senator and Mrs. Bayh were in the aforementioned plane crash with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. 

In late 1964, Marvella was named "Indiana Woman of the Year" by the Indianapolis chapter of Theta Sigma Xi. A year later, she was chosen one of the "Outstanding Young Women of the Nation."

The citizens of Enid, Oklahoma recognized Marvella with the "Pride of the Plainsmen Award" in 1967.

Marvella's husband, Senator Birch Bayh, became Chairman of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. In that role, Birch Bayh authored two constitutional amendments, the only person other than a Founding Father to author two amendments to the United States Constitution. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment establishes procedures for an orderly transition of power in the case of the death, disability, or resignation of the President of the United States. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 throughout the United States.

Tragedy Strikes

In 1971, just six months after speaking at the her father's funeral, Marvella Bayh was diagnosed with breast cancer. Birch Bayh dropped his campaign for the 1972 Democratic Presidential nomination to be with his wife during her recovery from breast surgery.

After a successful surgery and treatment, Marvella's cancer went into remission. Marvella Bayh became the nation's spokesperson for the American Cancer Society

People Magazine would write in 1979:
"Until 1971 Marvella Bayh was known principally as Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh’s wife, a blond beauty and connoisseur of politics with intense ambitions—for her husband. After the removal of a cancerous breast that year, she turned away from politics and devoted the rest of her life to traveling around the country for the Cancer Society. As medical philanthropist Mary Lasker observed: “Of all the women who are public figures and have had cancer, Marvella was the only one who went out and campaigned against it.”
Marvella Bayh and Birch Bayh
From 1972 through 1978, Marvella Bayh gave nearly 200 speeches across the nation, countless interviews, and stood before Americans as the face of courage in the fight against cancer.

In late 1978, her cancer came back.

Marvella Bayh told an interviewer for the Washington Post about her reactions to receiving the news that she had cancer again and that this time that cancer would take her life:
"When they told me there was treatment but no cure at this time, I dropped to my knees. Two things from out of my past, when I went to church as a child, came back to me. Number one, 'Where can I go but to the Lord?' and Number two, 'I am weak but He is strong." 
"When life comes down to basics, really how little control we all have over our own lives.' And it also came to me how, even if we live to be 100, how really short life here is. And therefore, it's important to enjoy it and not rush so fast and take time to smell the roses . . ."
Marvella son, Evan Bayh,  would go on to become Governor of Indiana and U.S. Senator from Indiana. Like his father Birch, Evan would run for the Democratic nomination of President of the United States.

The petite, blond girl from Enid who could move audiences with her eloquent speeches must not be forgotten, especially by those of us who live in Enid, Oklahoma.

I don't know if Evan Bayh will ever read this post. But if he, his father Birch, or his kids ever do, I want them to know that at least one current Enid resident understands what the Bayh family has known for decades about Marvella Belle (née Hern) Bayh.

She was one remarkable Okie.

Postscript: If you would like more information about Marvella's life, you can purchase her autobiography called Marvella: A Personal Journey