pecaspers: a Blog in transition

January 21, 2013

MLK and Inauguration Day 2013

If you don’t live under a rock, then you know that today was both the presidential inauguration and the public celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Much was made during the ceremonies in Washington D.C. of the way Dr. King’s “Dream” was on display as fulfilled in the re-inauguration of the United States of America’s first Black president. But that’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it.

To quote King, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Like it or not, there were plenty of people who voted for and against Barack Obama just because he is Black. Interestingly enough, he’s actually bi-racial. King’s dream wasn’t that Black people would overtake White people in positions of power and influence. The dream is that people’s moral character will be seen for what it is without reference at all to the color of their skin. The dream is not reached until we stop talking about the first Black, Latino, Asian, or whatever whoever. When a person’s race doesn’t enter into the equation of how good a man or woman someone is, then we’ll be on the way. (Side note: My point here isn’t to argue for or against President Obama’s character.)

I’ll happily admit we’ve made a lot of progress. And of course, first [insert race/gender] [insert significant achievement]s occur as a sign of that progress. My own denomination elected Fred Luter as President of the Southern Baptist Convention this year; he’s the first Black President of the SBC. However, we have not arrived in a post-racial America until the hype is all and only about a person and not his or her skin. We have not arrived in a post-racial America until people stop throwing “he’s Black” into conversations when it isn’t actually important to the story being told–you know what I’m talking about. We have not arrived in a post-racial America until there’s a recognition of the fact that Black folks and White folks and Asian folks and every other kind of folks do in fact have some real cultural differences but that we’re all, more importantly, just folks. Folks created in the image of God. Folks diversified into many nations, tribes, and tongues by God and for His glory. Folks who all need salvation from their sin by Jesus the Son of the one true and living God. Folks who will all one day bow their knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Pray for President Barack Obama; not because he’s Black, but because he’s the President of the United States of America.

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November 5, 2012

Presidential Election Prediction and Commentary

I’ve pretty much held my tongue until now. Perhaps a grassroots movement would have begun if I put this forward sooner, but I doubt it.

Barak Obama will win. Let me tell you why. Democrats are still all going to vote for President Obama. Republicans aren’t all going to vote for Romney. Remember all those Christian Republican voters who didn’t come out and vote for McCain? Many of them aren’t coming out to vote for Romney either. Many independent voters who would go Republican for a strong candidate aren’t going to vote for Romney. Independent voters who typically go Democrat certainly aren’t going to flip for Romney. And then you have people like me.

I voted for Bob Dole, I voted for George W. Bush twice, and I voted for McCain. I kind of liked Dole, but I probably didn’t know as much about him as I thought I did. I don’t know if I’d vote for him if he were up this year; it’s possible. I liked the W. No, he wasn’t a perfect president. I didn’t like all he’ll be remembered for, but I still think he is a good man – – perhaps evidenced best in his withdrawal from the political scene after his presidency. I didn’t like McCain. McCain was a big-government, Washington-tainted, moderate Republican. I did appreciate the fact that he had actually served in the military. At any rate, I voted for McCain because I bought the “lesser of two evils” argument. However, I knew Obama was going to trounce McCain.

My mind has changed. In what way does choosing the lesser of two evils actually make sense to the Christian worldview? Given that choice, shouldn’t we choose neither? If you lock me in a room, duct tape a gun to my hand, and force me to shot either my wife or my son; I’m not pulling the trigger. But the situation isn’t that limited. We’ve been lied to by both democrats and republicans telling us we have a two-party system. We don’t have a two-party system. We have a system that is dominated by two parties, and that’s not the same thing. Did you know that you can vote for anybody you want to who meets the constitutional criteria for being president? Anybody, even if they aren’t a party candidate, they don’t even have to be on the ballot. You can write someone in. So that’s what I’m going to do, I’m writing in Ron Paul.

Why Ron Paul? It’s not because I agree with him on every issue. It’s definitely not because he has any chance at winning. I’m voting for Ron Paul because he’s the one guy I can think to write in that might show up in some statistically significant way in the polling data. I’m voting for him in an attempt to say to the Republican party, and in a small way to the Democrats too, that I’m sick of them picking some loser who’s been doing nothing but running for president in step-by-step fashion for the last twenty to thirty years. If the best you can do is put up a moderate guy who adopts Obama’s winning strategy of saying whatever you tell him the people he’s talking to at that moment want to hear, then I’m just going to vote for someone else.

Here’s the reality folks. I’m more afraid of 8 years of Romney, or 4 years of Romney followed by 4-8 years of some other liberal Dem, than I am of 4 more years of Obama. Obama is fighting a Republican House of Representatives, and he could be about to face a Republican controlled Senate too. I’m pretty sure the more-or-less-conservatives will keep him in check for his next term. Hopefully they’ll have the intestinal and testicular fortitude to live up to their constitutional duty to throw down some checking and balancing on his executive ordering and declaring ways. But can you imagine what a mess of nonsense would get pushed through by Romney and a piggy-eyed Congress (especially if it’s both houses)? Now, if Obama wins AND Republicans lose the House and stay the minority in the Senate…maybe the Mayans were on to something. If Romney wins and the Democrats get both houses, then we’re back to Romney losing in 4 years to an all lady Clinton/Pelosi ticket or something equally maddening.

Please go vote. Vote for whoever you want to be your president. I don’t want either of the front-runners, so I’m voting for someone else.

Whatever you do, don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe Fox News, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, or anybody else when they tell you why Mitt couldn’t unite the Republican base…unless they say “Gotcha, we knew he’d lose! I can’t believe you let us pull this off. Will you let us convince you Obama 2016 is a good idea too?”

Don’t believe hype, no matter who is feeding it to you.

P.S. For all you Christians rocking a Romney/Ryan sticker on you bumper right over your Jesus fish, think about this. Obama may be pro-choice and in favor of redefining marriage, but when Romney says “God bless America!” he has a completely different definition of the nature and identity of that God and how he relates to humanity than you do.

SomebodyBetter2016

September 12, 2012

Tallassee Ministerial Alliance – Prayer for Our Enemies

Filed under: Culture,Ministry,Politics — pecaspers @ 12:53 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

On September 11, 2012, the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance and members of our community gathered to pray as we remembered the tragedy of eleven years before. I had the honor of leading the prayer for our enemies. As acts of terror and warfare still fill global headlines, please pray along with those who gathered that day. We prayed:

Our Father in heaven, You are the mighty Maker of heaven and earth. You scattered the nations at Babel, and you called out Abraham to make a nation of his descendants and to bless all the nations of the world through his Seed.

God, in Christ, You became that Seed of Abraham, and by your perfect life, death, and resurrection you became the ultimate Blessing to all nations–the Way to a restored relationship with You for all mankind, for anyone who will repent and believe.

We confess that our hearts do not always reflect Your heart. I’m sure some of us here today have sinned against you by things we’ve done or said against people who consider themselves enemies of the United States of America. We do pray that You would cause any attempt to attack our homeland to fail. We do pray that you would bring an end to the governments and organizations who seek to destroy both Americans and the United States of America herself.

But God, help us to always remember that this country is not our home, that the United States of America is not the Kingdom of God. Those who crashed planes into symbols of our national pride and identity are under your wrath–I am sure–but they are there because they sinned against You, not us.

Forgive us for any time we have wished death or suffering on men and women created in your image. Forgive us for thinking that we are somehow superior for being born in this country and not the Middle East, Northern Africa, or somewhere else. Forgive us for every failure to extend hospitality, kindness, friendship, and especially the gospel to Muslims, or to those we assumed were Muslim, or to anyone else we considered “not one of us.”

Father, by Your grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, break our hearts for our enemies. So, standing before You based only on Your goodness and the faith in Christ we have by Your grace, we pray for our enemies as you taught us to.

We ask for your gospel–the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone–to spread like wildfire across the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Central and South Asia.

We ask for You to call out missionaries from our churches to take the gospel to those who have no access to it.

We ask for you to continue to reveal yourself to Muslims through visions and dreams. We ask that you would change the hearts of American Christians so that our own churches would be welcoming to the millions of people who come from nations without the gospel, that we would share with them Your goodness and love, that they would see how their sin has separated them from You, that we would explain clearly how in Jesus Christ You gave the answer to our problem, and that people from all over the world might repent and believe and join the fellowship of our churches. Oh that our churches would look more like people from every nation, tribe, and tongue gathered around your throne and less like country clubs and family reunions.

We ask for you to raise up leaders from our churches to start new churches here in America, especially in the major cities where the nations have come to us.

We ask that you would bring to salvation would-be terrorists so that their fervor could overflow to eternal life for many just like you did with the Apostle Paul.

Your will be done. Your Kingdom come. Forgive us our failures. Use us for Your glory. We pray these things in the Name of Christ and for His glory among the nations…even ours…even our enemies. Amen.

June 22, 2012

A Preemptive Word on the SBC Annual Meeting

What follows was originally composed as my contribution to the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance column in the Tallassee Tribune. This is the article before I or the paper’s editors cut it to fit the allowed space. I wrote it prior to the SBC Annual Meeting and it–as far as I know–appeared in the paper on Tuesday, June 19, the first day of the actual Convention.

I am a Southern Baptist. (Curious about what that means? Look at the Baptist Faith and Message tab on http://www.sbc.net.) This week, thousands of Southern Baptists are gathering in New Orleans, La. for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Because of this, you will likely hear many things in the news in the coming days about what Southern Baptists are saying and doing at the Convention. I beg you, please don’t judge us too harshly.

I’m always ashamed of some of the ridiculous things that come out of the Convention. I can tell you that someone will say something stupid about alcohol, race-relations, politics, environmentalism, homosexuality, the King James Version of the Bible, and many other issues of both major and minor significance to the general population. Media outlets will handle these things with differing degrees of malice or kindness depending on how they prefer to spin things. You need to understand that the Annual Meeting operates as an effectively open forum for anyone sent as a messenger from a Southern Baptist church. Just because someone says it at the Convention doesn’t mean much. Just because the SBC votes for or against some statement doesn’t mean that all Southern Baptists now agree on that issue–many Southern Baptists can’t even agree on what it means to be Southern Baptist. Most importantly, remember that every fifteen second sound bite you hear coming out of my SBC brethren has been ripped out of a greater context.

What you probably won’t hear much about is the real reason that Southern Baptists convene. The SBC exists so Southern Baptist churches can cooperate together in fulfilling the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus says to His followers, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (HCSB). Though we do much else, the SBC ultimately exists for the primary purpose of sending missionaries to all nations (read “nations” as people groups with distinct culture and language, not politically recognized countries) for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus.

A disciple is nothing less than a person who has been baptized–identifying with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, resurrection–and is being taught to obey all that He commanded. The only reason one gets baptized and seeks to learn and obey is because he or she believes the gospel. Simply put, the gospel is the good news that God exists and He is good, that all mankind has rebelled against Him in sin, that Jesus is God-become-man who suffered in our place the punishment for our sin so we could have a relationship with God, and finally that we are all accountable before God to turn from all our own attempts to please Him and rely solely on what He has already accomplished in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So remember, don’t accept the spin the talking heads on cable news and internet bloggers will put on the SBC Annual Meeting. Feel free to ask of what you hear, “How does this serve to advance the gospel?” But before you throw stones at me and my SBC friends, ask the same question of every aspect of your own life. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory,” (1 Corinthians 10:31, HCSB). Oh that we would all be all about the gospel for the glory of God. You are welcome for all the opportunities to bring this gospel naturally into your conversations with your lost friends, relatives, co-workers, and complete strangers that our Annual Meeting will provide you.

Addendum: I am happy to report that I was largely wrong in my expectations for the Convention. I watched/listened to the vast majority of the meeting via live streaming and didn’t hear nearly as much nonsense as expected–hardly any at all, in fact. The importance of the gospel and our Great Commission was this year’s main focus, but Fred Luder’s election as our first Black president is what seems to be getting all the press. That’s pretty good, I’d say.

February 1, 2011

We Can Be So Stupid Sometimes (vol. 2)

I receive emails from AFA (American Family Association), mostly because I want to know what ridiculous or hypocritical thing “Christians” are upset about currently. (I put Christians in quotation marks not to signify that I doubt the faith of members of the AFA, but because I think it is patently false to say that what the AFA represents is a truly Christian response to the world around us.) I’m all sorts of tempted to jump on a number of soap boxes here. However, I think it’s better that I just let the AFA’s latest email and my response to it speak for itself.

[This is where the text of their email begins.]
Subject: The Home Depot doubles funds to gay activist group
January 31, 2011

Dear Paul,
The Home Depot Foundation funnels money to gay activist groups.The Home Depot, through its Foundation, is now matching donations by its employees to further homosexual activism.

GLAAD (a politically active gay group) announced on its website that The Home Depot has agreed to match all contributions made by company employees, despite a company policy to the contrary.

The Home Depot policy states it will not match funds to “political groups” or “groups that have a primary focus of changing laws.” GLAAD is heavily involved in promoting same-sex marriage.

GLAAD and The Home Depot make is easy for company funds to “Go Gay!”Through its “Matching Gifts” program, The Home Depot is willing to violate its own policy to help promote GLAAD’s top agendas – homosexual marriage and more gay characters on prime-time network TV.

AFA is asking you to join a boycott of The Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in cultural issues.

TAKE ACTION
1. If you have not done so, sign the Boycott Pledge at BoycottTheHomeDepot.com.
2. Call your local store manager. Let the manager know that you will not be shopping at The Home Depot until the company stops supporting the homosexual agenda. You can find the number here. (click “Store Finder”).
3. Print the paper petition and distribute it at Sunday school and church.

Take Action Now Sign the Boycott Pledge Now!

It is very important that you forward this alert to your friends and family members.

Sincerely,

Tim

Tim Wildmon, President
American Family Association

[This is where their email ends, followed by some other info and links. If you don’t trust me, you can view the email on the web at http://action.afa.net/email/online.aspx?cid=1216&mid=21995980&tid=aa&utm_source=smAFA&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1216]

[This was my reply…which I doubt ever gets read or responded to. But a brother has got to try.]

Dear Tim,

Your stated goal for the boycott of Home Depot is that they would “remain neutral in cultural issues.” For any thinking Christian, it is evident that they have already met your desire. According to Home Depot’s gift program policy, they match gifts to ANY 501(c)(3) charitable organization. That’s about as neutral as it gets. According to the way the IRS defines such organizations, they are “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.” Unless I’m wrong, AFA is a 501(c)(3) and is therefore just as eligible for matching gifts as GLAAD is. Neutrality is achieved! You win. Now, let’s stop being contentious in the public square with those who need to hear the Gospel.

In grace and peace,

[That’s it.]

What do you think? Should Christians spend their time, resources, and energy on changing the culture of our country? Or in this case, should we attempt to counteract the time, resources, and energy others spend on influencing our culture in an ungodly direction? I think we can be both personal evangelists and culture warriors, but I know it’s a lot easier to boycott, wear t-shirts, and send emails than it is to sit down and share the gospel with someone. And I think that we (or at least those who claim to be motivated by the same beliefs we profess) sabotage our efforts at the latter by being perceived as doing too much of the former.

September 4, 2010

…we can be so stupid sometimes…

Below is the text of an email a well-meaning Christian sadly forwarded to me:

While millions of Americans struggle to keep their homes and jobs, President Barack Obama can’t give your tax dollars away fast enough.

August 26, 2010

Dear XX-name-deleted-to-protect-the-guilty-XX,

According to the Associated Press, the Obama administration will give away nearly $6 million of American tax dollars to restore 63 historic and cultural sites, including Islamic mosques and minarets, in 55 nations. See the State Department document here.

This is an outrage! Our country is broke. And can you imagine what the ACLU and others on the secular left would say if these monies had been spent to repair Christian churches? They would be screaming “separation of church and state!” Funding Islam on foreign soil with American taxpayer money? Not a whimper.

The latest taxpayer givaway includes $76,000 for a 16th century mosque in China, $67,000 for a mosque in Pakistan, $77,000 to restore minarets in Nigeria and Mauritania, and $50,000 for an Islamic Monument in India.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. program to restore Islamic and other cultural sites in other countries is taxpayer money well spent.

Take Action


Ask your representative to immediately condemn this waste of taxpayer dollars and begin an investigation into why American taxpayers are footing the bill to rebuild Islamic mosques overseas.

It is very important that you forward this alert to your friends and family members.
American Family Association | P O Drawer 2440 | Tupelo, MS 38803 | 1-662-844-5036
Copyright © 2010 American Family Association. All Rights Reserved

Here is my well thought-out and researched, somewhat satirical response:

According to the State Department document found here, the Obama administration will give away nearly $6 million of American tax dollars to restore, conserve, document, and educate people about a wide variety of historically significant cultural treasures in 55 nations, including a significant number of ancient Christian sites.

This is an outrage!  Our country is broke, but more importantly about two thirds of the global population has never heard the gospel.  Can you imagine what true Christians who are passionate about the Great Commission could do if only they had been allowed to give those same dollars to living Christian churches instead of the government spending it on crumbling buildings?

What is only slightly less outrageous is that some Christian groups are circulating articles that would lead people to believe that a large portion of the $6 million is going to restore ancient Islamic sites.  In fact, there are only five (5) projects on this year’s list specifically relating to Islam: two mosques, two minarets, and one Islamic monument.  These projects total $271,691, a mere 4.56% of the funds doled out in this U.S. State Department fund.  On the other hand, there are nine (9) ancient Christian sites being preserved or restored at the total cost of $1,119,524, that’s 18.78%.  The largest price tag of these is $625,000 for the 11th-Century “Church of the Holy Redeemer” in Turkey; that’s more than twice what is being awarded to all five Islam related projects combined.

This program dates back to 2001.  In 2007, under the Bush administration, your tax dollars were spent on four Islam related sites–that’s only one less than the current administration.  I don’t recall anyone making much fuss about it then, however.  Find more information on the program here: http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/afcp.html

I’d appreciate it if you’d pass this on to everyone who mentions this issue in the next few days.

Below are the projects relating to ancient Christian history taken from the document linked to at the beginning of this article.
28. Macedonia: Conservation of Early Christian Frescoes from the Episcopal Basilica at Stobi – $72,600
30. Romania: Restoration of a 13th‐Century Fortified Church in the Transylvanian Village of Moardas – $39,185
31. Russian Federation: Restoration of the Late 17th‐Century Church of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign in Dubrovitsky – $81,990
49. Bolivia: Restoration of 17th‐ and 18th‐Century Colonial Chapels in Curahuara de Carangas – $41,079
52. El Salvador: Restoration of the Early 20th‐Century Cathedral of Santa Ana – $43,430
53. Guatemala: Restoration of the High Altar and Cloister of the Late 18th‐Century Convent of La Merced in Guatemala City – $94,827
56. Nicaragua: Restoration of the Mid‐18th‐Century Church of Mary Magdalene in Totogalpa – $90,243
58. Peru: Restoration of 17th‐ and 18th‐Century Paintings from the Compañia de Jesus Church in Arequipa – $31,170
61. Turkey: Conservation of the Remains of the 11th‐Century Surp Prikitch (Church of the Holy Redeemer) at Ani – $625,000

Total going to conserve or restore ancient church buildings: $1,119,524

January 26, 2010

Late Night TV and Three Party Politics

Filed under: Culture,Politics — pecaspers @ 12:00 PM
Tags: , ,

Through the years, there have been two parties struggling for power. Some will tell you that this is the way it was always meant to be, that it can work no other way. Could this system be on the verge of breaking? FOX hopes so.

No, I’m not talking about FOX News–not yet, at least. I’m talking about the FOX broadcast network which will likely be picking up NBC’s cast-off Conan O’Brien. FOX has been effectively out of the late-night talk-show game since Arsenio’s fall in the early ’90s. Mr. Hall is the one shining star in FOX’s after-the-news talk-show sky of dim bulbs.

But now… ooooooo. Conan O’Brien, who rejected FOX a few years back because NBC execs were promising him The Tonight Show, who has always appealed to a younger demographic than Leno or Letterman, he has now been rejected by his native NBC and is again being wooed by the younger-tilting FOX network.

So the denizens of PM talk are about to get shaken up. Instead of having Leno and Letterman dukin’ it out with Jimmy Kimmel picking up the towels, we may soon have a three-way battle to be king of late night–with Jimmy Kimmel still picking up the towels.

My question is this: Does this herald the possibility of a shift–logically connected or not–in the political possibilities of a third party making a legitimate run at the presidency? In my twenty-nine years on this planet, I’ve noticed that shifts in our entertainment industry usually portends what will come in US culture. Hollywood and NYC are “forward thinking” places producing entertainment in keeping with their thinking which we all consume. Have you ever noticed that when you watch an 80s movie now, you see attitudes portrayed in it that you don’t remember being popular THEN but are NOW widely held? And I’m not only talking about moral issues. Remember that in the movie Demolition Man (1993 with Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, and lots if Taco Bell) Arnold Schwarzenegger was President because he had been California’s governor (which he didn’t become until 2003) and they amended the Constitution so even foreign-born citizens could serve. (No one is suggesting that the Governator WILL become the Presinator, but the discussion of allowing a naturalized citizen access to the presidency has been circulating for years.) I’ve observed parallel events in pop-culture are often followed by occurrences in other totally unrelated areas. For example: Halle Berry, raised by her white mother, became the first–and thus far only–black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for Monster’s Ball in 2001; in 2008, Barack Obama, raised by his white mother, was elected the first black US President.

Here is my prophecy, mark it down: IF CoCo can cut out close to a third of the late night market-share and hold it, THEN within the next ten years we’ll see a presidential election that has to go to a run-off between a third party candidate (not an independent, but a full-fledged party) and a candidate from one of the two we currently have. In this, the opinion-show hosts of FOXNews will likely be a major cheerleader, since the third party candidate will most likely be a small-government social-conservative fed up with the big-government social-moderate machine the GOP has become. And, if he(/she?) doesn’t win in either 2012, 2016, or 2020; then he(/she?) will win in 2024 or 2028.

Why? Because I’m not voting against the liberals again. I’m voting for somebody from here on out. And I think there will be a growing number of voters who will only “throw away” their vote on a GOP/DNC candidate once or twice more before they too raise their cup of tea and stop drinking the Kool-aid.

[completely unrelated: I happened to look at the contact page for the White House, and the text image used to verify that an actual person is entering the information said “cowering always.”]

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