May 27, 2022

The Evangelical Reformation

Here are Three Trends Evangelicals will face due to new revelations of the longterm Abuse Crisis:

1) Evangelical culture, especially in the south, was bound with constructs of hierarchical authority. More Evangelicals will now begin extricating themselves from those cultural ideologies.

2) Evangelism will become more difficult. The willingness of persons to receive a message is affected by perceptions of a speaker’s credibility. Listeners’ presumptions going into evangelistic conversations will be increasingly negative. The Evangelical voice has lost integrity.

3) The widespread argument going into the strident culture wars dominating the later Twentieth Century was that Evangelicals had a claim to moral probity. Those claims were buttressed through working alliances with Roman Catholics. Both Catholics and Evangelicals lost probity.

Catholics and Evangelicals have been able to bring the nation to see the moral problem with abortion. Now they face headwinds on every front of the culture wars. The pugilist attitude of culture war will be increasingly challenged by desire for more peaceful forms of engagement.

What are the Key Theological Emphases which will help Evangelicals build a better future? In my opinion, there are three recoveries that must be made:

1) Imago Dei — Humans treat other people  according to their understanding of who they are. We must recover our sacred dignity.

2) Divine Perfections — Evangelical Christians must recover a high anthropology, but a high anthropology depends upon a high theology, for human beings are created “in” the Image of God. We must dwell upon both divine transcendence and immanence, divine holiness and love, etc.

3) Discipleship — Evangelicals have been busy about evangelism and cultural engagement, but these are mere pieces of a greater truth. Christ Jesus commissioned his church to “make disciples.” Filling his commission depends entirely upon Christ’s presence and power, and teachings.

These theological recoveries are, of course, bound tightly with divine revelation and Holy Scripture. But make no mistake about it: Until Evangelicals recognize our errors and return to a radical dependence upon God, which results in Christians who look like Jesus, we will die.

April 15, 2022

If You Must Speak the Hard Words, Speak with a Humble Spirit

As with other pastors, against my preference for peace, the Lord sometimes called me to deliver a strong prophetic word to rebellion among his people. It always grieved me deeply to do so.

When I see controversial pastors revel with relish in the same task, I reevaluate myself. 

If my voice relishes the opportunity to blast the deceived… If the one conveying God’s Word speaks hard truths without love… Then I am not filled with God’s Holy Spirit but with my own spirit, and that is very dangerous.

What brings this to mind this morning is my devotion. Ezekiel was told, “These are the men who plot evil and give wicked advice… Therefore, prophesy against them. Prophesy, son of man!” (11:2,4)

When he did, one man died in judgment. But Ezekiel did not laugh, as I saw one pastor do. No, Ezekiel “fell facedown and cried out” on behalf of the people of God (v 13).

If I as a pastor do not love the people whom God loves—I mean really love them, such that I rush to rejoice and weep with them in their triumphs and trials—then I do not really shepherd them in his name.

Yes, brothers, let us speak God’s truth with power, but always with love, always recognizing we are all sinners saved by grace alone, we are all guilty in ourselves, and we come to the throne only by grace through faith in the humbled man on the cross. 

Only through his righteousness and resurrection do we have hope. 

Remember Him, remember yourself.

April 7, 2022

The Man with Jesus on His Chest

Suppressing my emotions as our daughter was disappearing, we turned our minds to this man’s needs.

Yesterday, as Karen and I sent our daughter from DFW airport to work with Afghan refugee children, a man came up asking for bus fare from the airport to Cleburne to see his mother.

We don’t really carry cash any more, so we were at a loss. He kindly walked away.

Another man walked up and gave us two waters as he couldn’t take them through security.

We watched our girl go.

Then I remembered someone recently gave me a $50 bill, which I stuck in my phone.

I chased the poor man down as he walked away. I gave him the bill. He started rejoicing, saying he could now see his mother and get a good meal, too.

I blessed him in the name of Jesus.

He stopped and said, “I believe in Jesus. I have Him with me, too.” Then he raised his shirt.

As several passersby stared in shock, the poor man revealed this large, intricate, and well-drawn tattoo of Jesus crowned and hanging on the cross emblazoned on his chest and side.

It was a light-hearted moment for me in the midst of a difficult time as I mourned my daughter.

I hope this poor man’s mother was glad to see her son. She is sick, and they had not seen each other for awhile. I know we will be glad to see our daughter again. In that, we were the same.

I will never forget the poor man with Jesus emblazoned all over his chest.