Archive for the tag “Jeb Bush”

#Send2015 – A Non-SBC Viewpoint

So I write this as I sit in the airport, waiting to fly from Nashville back to Baltimore after attending the #Send2015 conference of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was a 2-day event that highlighted some of the top pastors of the SBC and a lot of worship music.

Upon entering, one quickly got the feeling that these leaders wanted this time together to be about the Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit alive in us today. It was also about mobilizing the army of Christians under the banner of Christ and the SBC. Church planting and full-time missions were heavily focused on as speakers shared presentations on multi-site, planting networks, and implementing missions strategies in the local church.

When we entered, there was the typical resource booth set up as well as a mobilization station. The 600+ volunteers that made sure this event happened with minimal issues were absolutely amazing! They helped everyone get to seats quickly, they made sure lunch on the second day was provided and in the appropriate spots and that all 13,000 people were fed within an hour.

As we took our seats, I met these two young women from Alabama and, for some reason, God kept us connected over the course of the two days. My seat was fairly high up. We were in the Bridgestone Arena, and I was seated in the second balcony for much of the event. The groups were given the 100 sections and the singles and groups under 10 were given the 200 and 300 sections.

Almost the entire first day, Passion City band led the worship. They were amazing, as usual. Their music is upbeat enough to keep me dancing but also incorporated enough slower worship music that allowed for reflection and introspection.

The speakers were awe-inspiring. J.D. Greear kicked it off with a view on church planting that was modeled after his book “Gaining by Losing.” He explained that when he first started putting the principle of sending in place where he would task his people who were to plant satellites and other campuses to take as many of his people as possible, including leaders and those who tithe significantly, that he was worried. He was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to sustain that model for long. But many campuses and satellites and plants later, he is seeing explosive growth as the leaders he tapped on the shoulder to plant were leaders that would grow other leaders in his organization. He shared the words of Jesus from John 12:20-23 where only if a grain of wheat dies, it will bear much fruit. He used that as an example of a planting model, the model of the harvest. The one thing he said that really hit me was his belief that there will be fewer and fewer megachurches fighting for the same dwindling “churched” demographic. He said that more and more people in our day will need to be reached outside the church walls.

I could go on and on explaining things JD said, but I wouldn’t get through much more of this review. Greear’s view is very extrinsic and focuses on reaching the lost where they are. We cannot wait for them to come to us. We cannot simply build a model church and expect to raise up model Christians. We have to break the model of church that we have adopted today and go back to the original model we were given, that of the Acts church.

After the first main session, we headed to our first breakout session. There were multiple choices available. Those for planters, those for missionaries, those for disciple-making, those for women only, and those for people who wanted to hear a panel of speakers.

I chose to go to the Kingdom First breakout. This was led by Jeff Christopherson and Mac Lake, writers of the book of the same name. The first few people that got there received 2 books for free, Kingdom First and Kingdom Matrix, both written by Christopherson. The real goal of this breakout was to show people that evangelism, as many churches to believe be the end of a program, is actually the means of a successful church and not the fruit at the end. They shared that planting churches, and entire movements of kingdom growth, have occurred when God’s people were completely overwhelmed. This is why we see churches in Syria and Iraq growing at exponential rates and the church in America is losing ground. One quote that he said that really struck me was that we need to move from “consolidation to infiltration.” We need to move from a single, large church to multiple smaller venues. We need to shift from discipleship to disciple-making. Discipleship means that we come together corporately while disciple-making involves living life with people not only in church, but outside of it.

After dinner that night, we came back as a group to worship and listen to Louis Giglio speak. I love listening to Giglio. When he shared his view of Creation on video, I was amazed and awe-struck by the information he provided. His speech on Monday, though, was not about Creation as much as it was about the empowerment of the church. He shared a sentence I have heard over and over again, but never really thought about until I heard him say it, “Jesus did not come to make bad people good but to make dead people live.” And here is where my first uneasy moment came. When he said that, I remember yelling from the area I was sitting a loud AMEN! But throughout the auditorium was a collective quiet. Church, that simple fact alone should make the rafters shake and all of Nashville to wonder what was happening in the Arena. Sin didn’t make us bad people. Sin made us dead people. Throughout the rest of his presentation, he did a very good job of exegeting the entire book of Acts, focusing on the first 4 chapters.

At the end of the night, we heard music from Crowder and ended with his version of Hank Williams Jr. “I Saw the Light.” This is where the room came to life. Not during the reading of the Scripture. Not during the exegesis of Biblical truth. It came alive during music. Now I know music is powerful. But Scripture is more powerful. I know that Crowder is a big name in the Christian music scene, but you wouldn’t even have a CHRISTian music scene without Christ. The power is in the name, not the music.

I fear that not just the SBC, but all of Christendom has lost that, including myself. I find myself fighting internally for space in my heart. And there are days when music wins over Scripture. SBC, if you want to mobilize an army for Christ, start with how to experience Christ. Make disciples who experience Christ daily.

After a short 11 hour church session at the Bridgestone Arena and Music City Center, I headed back to my hotel to think on that which I learned for the day. Besides, the next day was starting early and I didn’t want to miss any of it.

On day 2, I showed up about 715 and we went inside to find a seat before anyone else. Sitting down, I watched the video screen as the Tennessee State Drum Corps played outside to waiting Christians. They then came inside and joined in with Shane and Shane as they led us in worship.

One of the speakers wasn’t able to make it because of having a baby. But that gave way for Vance Pittman, another person I enjoy reading, to take the stage. Vance also spoke on the book of Acts. And his view revolved around a quote from William James, “The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” With that, he went into Acts 1. He didn’t focus on the immense movement of the church of Acts, although that was part of it. But he focused on explaining the Kingdom of God. The definition of the Kingdom of God is, “God’s sovereign activity in the world resulting in people being in a right relationship with Himself.”

After a little more worship, we headed off to breakouts. I went to JD Greear’s breakout in which he goes into a little more depth in his book “Gaining by Losing.” I am very interested in his model of planting churches as he has shown significant success in it. Along with that, I see a strong parallel between his model and the New Testament model. I really wish I could speak in depth about what I learned, but I believe I will be putting together a model for my church to approve after I read his book and study the Scripture a little more. Bottom line, though, is that his model revolves around the gospel. Many churches today have relegated the gospel to a place to start discussing church. Unfortunately that is a backward model. The gospel, as JD puts it, is not the diving board, but it is the entire pool. If we simply start with the gospel and don’t carry it on throughout the process of disciple making, then we miss the point of the gospel. The gospel is life-changing revolution in a single heart across billions of people on the planet. If we keep the gospel as the focus, then everything, including how we do church, will change.

After breakouts, we went back into the arena for a message from Dr. Russell Moore and some special guests. Dr. Moore shared his views on Christian liberty and gave a very provocative message, one that challenges me personally. I am not one who likes the political arena. I honestly have spent very little time analyzing it other than to ask the simple question, “How does what is happening in Washington and around the world affect me in my daily Christian life?” But Dr. Moore attempted to stretch how we think about politics and how we think about the gospel’s role in politics. He equated us with a Christian worldview, looking like Christ, but also a cultural worldview and looking a lot like Pilate. Taking us through John 18, he showed us that the Kingdom is not of this world and what that means to us as Christians. Before I do a significant injustice by trying to explain it all, I am going to stop there about his presentation. I got a copy of his book for free at the conference and will be reading it pretty thoroughly in the days to come. After that, I will then come back with my thoughts on his views.

The special guests were interesting. We had in a video interview, Marco Rubio, GOP Presidential candidate, and, live on stage, Jeb Bush, one of the top running GOP candidates. Dr. Moore explained that he also invited Hillary Clinton, but that she declined the invitation. I listened intently to what these two candidates said. At the same time, I went back to my last blog post about how I view them to see what they said and how it lined up to what I wrote. I still have SIGNIFICANT problem with Jeb Bush. His actions on how he stands on abortion issues runs counter to what he said at the conference. I am sorry Jeb, you are still a liar in my eyes. Marco Rubio, while not as polished as Bush, I felt was a little more honest with his answers.

Heading into the last breakout session, I chose to attend Dr. Ed Stetzer’s talk on Releasing Small Groups to Engage Mission. That long title basically means that this would be a very high-brow conversation about small groups and their effect on the church as a whole. Now, I have to admit, by this time I was exhausted. I love reading Stetzer’s books. I have a lot of his writings, books and articles both, at my house. But I was falling asleep fast in his presentation. He just wasn’t engaging enough for me. I guess I am a product of this society in that my attention span on high-thought items is short. But, regardless, I got a lot of information from his meeting. He expressed that how we say things matters significantly. A simple phrase that we have all used is “I have been called to THE ministry.” But he would like us to use a different phrase, “I am called to ministry.” You see, the ministry is not just something for the professional and varsity level Christians. It is for every Christian. If you have given your life to Christ, you have been called to ministry. It doesn’t look the same for everyone. Our God, as Stetzer put it, is a missionary God. If we do not get on mission with Him, then He will find someone else who is more willing.

In the down time between sessions, I spoke with many of the young adults who were attending. The majority of this event was geared toward non-pastors. They want to mobilize the next generation of Christian to go plant or live on mission in their churches. As I spoke to some of these kids, some coming from churches of 20 and others from churches of 500, I could hear frustration. The recurring theme was that they were excited to do a God thing but that the only way they would be able to do it would be to leave their church because there was “no way their pastor/s would allow them to live on mission.” I used to have issues like this when I worked in the secular world. We would hold a big pep rally that would get everyone excited about a new program but then they would go back to their stores and reality would hit and not execute the program that we wanted them to execute. We learned how to handle this by then having the regional team go to each location to make sure they were on the same page and help them roll it out. With the SBC, there were over 400 churches represented at this event and of that, 260 of those churches brought 9,000 of the attendants. I think if the SBC expects to see these 400 churches, and primarily the 260, take the program of SEND and make it a reality, they will need to get people in the churches from the main denominational offices to help lead those churches to become sending locations. If not, then life will get in the way of the vision. The SBC has only 5,000 missionaries for 40,000 churches (that was the number given at the conference). The Moravians, probably the best missionary denomination in recent history, had 1 missionary for every 58 church members. If the SBC wants to get to that, then they will need to micromanage it a little until they can empower middle management (the pastors) with the tools they need to succeed and the desire they need to integrate it culturally in their churches.

After a wonderful dinner at Peg Leg Porker (I highly recommend it! VERY VERY good BBQ and fried pies!) we headed back to the arena for the final session and concert by Casting Crowns. Now I have never been to a Casting Crowns concert before. After that night, I am a believer in the power of their music and their hearts for Christ. Yes, they were fun to watch on stage (not as fun as Crowder, but still fun).They are all involved in ministry. Mark, the lead singer, is a youth pastor. Another band member is a church planter. They intentionally do not tour Sunday through Wednesday so they can focus on their ministries in their respective churches. I am very impressed with their hearts for God.

The final presentation for the evening was David Platt. I’ve heard him speak before and read almost all his books. I have a great deal of respect for David and his ministries. David started by sharing a story from his latest book about sex-trafficking and little girls in Nepal being used for sex. As he did, he broke into tears, completely broken-hearted by the effects of sin in this world. As he broke down, he started sharing an exegesis of Nehemiah 1. Nehemiah wept. And David wept on stage. He asked each of us in the arena if we have wept recently. Not shed a tear. But wept. Fall on the ground, on our face, crying to God. Nehemiah’s weeping led to God-directing miracles. And the same can happen today. God deserves greater than what we’ve been giving him. We need more focus during our prayer, more intentionality in our disciple-making, more love in our hearts to be able to weep for that which causes God to weep.

I left there slain by the Holy Spirit. I was in tears. I was in awe. Not of David Platt and his journeys. Not even of the other speakers and their messages. But I was in awe of the One who brought me back from death to life. I walked across the street to the parking garage to get my rental car and head back to the hotel.

But here is where reality comes back into play. Here is where Satan figures out a way to win the battle. As I was leaving, the parking garage gate wouldn’t take my credit card. Nor would it take the card of the person in the car in the lane next to mine. The garage attendant came over and tried to fix it to no avail. His manager came over and said the system needed to be reset. All this happened within 5 minutes. It took about 10 more minutes to get the system reset and start moving cars through the gates. While we were waiting, a lot of cars started lining up at the exit.

Having just come from one of the most impressive ends to a conference I have ever heard in David Platt/Casting Crowns, I would have thought that the Christians who were in their cars would have been a little more patient.

Not the case.

After the 8th minute, a bunch of people with wristbands from the conference got out of their cars and started screaming at the parking attendant. They started walking around screaming at him for his manager. Then, when the parking attendant told them that he couldn’t do anything different than reset the server, which was in the process of being done, those same Christians went back to their vehicles AND STARTED BLOWING THEIR HORNS!

Within 15 minutes, the entire fiasco was over.

I took the time, as the attendant was standing next to my car, to speak with him calmly, thank him for doing everything in his power he could be doing, and ask him if I could pray with him. We did. AS CHRISTIANS IN THEIR CARS WERE BLOWING THEIR HORNS!

My mind raced back to David and his time in Nepal. It raced back to the little girl being used in the sex trade simply because she was poor. And here were Christians who just proclaimed, at the end of his sermon, that we would do something, ANYTHING, to live on mission WHERE WE WERE and we can’t even speak love to a parking garage attendant who is having a bad night and was leaving late to pick up his kid from his ex because the gate wouldn’t open.

Final note: Christian, if you are going to live on mission where you are, make sure you are consistently living on mission. Day in. Day out. Every minute. God deserves better than to throw a tantrum.

But then, tomorrow is another day to try and live on mission

Supporting the Government 3: The Top 8 Republicans

Last week I looked at the bottom 8 contenders for the Republican ticket for President in 2016. In there, I found that some of these candidates are outright liars and others are viable in the Christian mind. Of course, it all comes down to action while in the Oval Office, but these small snapshots will hopefully give you an idea as to those candidates that might win my vote.

This week, I would like to look at the top 8.

Rand Paul – Senator from Kentucky

People know Rand Paul’s dad, Ron Paul, more than they know of Rand. Rand titles himself as a constitutional conservative and is very much seen as the leader of the conservative-libertarian bloc in Congress.

Out of the gate, Paul has typical Libertarian double-speak. He has come out opposing national laws for same-sex marriage and has literally said that “human life begins at conception and should be granted legal protection from that moment.” But in a turn of events, in March 2013, Paul said that as a physician, there are “thousands of exceptions” to a pro-life stance on abortion. It is this kind of double-speak that shows me he is a liar, but he is someone who will say anything get the vote.

Sorry, Senator Paul, but even before I go any further and waste any more of my time on you, a liar like yourself will not receive my vote.

Mike Huckabee – Former Governor of Arkansas and now TV personality

Mike has been down this path before. He was runner-up behind McCain in 2008. He is the complete opposite of a Constitutional Conservative (which many know as the Tea party). Immediately I see something in Huckabee that I like. He understands something that the Founding Fathers of the country understood, they said we are ALL equal. This means that we all have intrinsic worth and children in the womb have the same rights as children outside the womb. But he did go on to say that he would approve a law that would terminate a pregnancy if the mother is in danger. While that is a gray area for me personally because my feelings want to take over, I understand what the right choice to do is, and that is err on the side of life for both mother and child. This leads to healthcare reform that gives serious attention to coming up with winning solutions for both mother and child in these situations.

I also agree with him on views of same sex marriage and his view that it IS government’s role to legislate morality. The government is required to legislate morality. Don’t we have laws against theft and murder? If so, then we are saying that it is alright for the government to legislate morality in those cases. Why not in the case of same-sex marriage and abortion?

Now, here is where I do have to question Huckabee. In 2007 it came out that he supported accepting illegal immigrants after 3 years of being in the country. However, in 2008, he came out and said that “illegal immigrants must go home and start over.” And in January of this year, he said that we need to allow illegal immigrant children into college despite the crimes of their parents. Now I believe that we need immigration reform, and I agree with much of what Huckabee says about immigration, but his double speak on the issue causes me concern. It is not enough for me to outright call him a liar, because in the full context of those quotes, which I did not put in here, I can understand his position clearly and it seems to follow a biblical worldview. But to say that I am not concerned would be false because it shows he could very easily sway his mind a different direction once elected.

Mike, I would not withhold a vote from you, but I would watch you very carefully in the debates as we get closer.

Dr. Ben Carson – Physician and Citizen Politician

I have a warm spot in my heart for Dr. Carson. When my daughter was born, she had a head deformity. Not severe, but enough that our pediatrician wanted her seen by the doctors at John’s Hopkins neurosurgery department. We set up the appointment and took our daughter and saw Ben Carson! We took along one of his children’s books and asked him to sign it, which he did gracefully. From what I remember of him, he was very soft-spoken, tender-hearted, and easy to talk to. He didn’t rush us as parents and seemed honestly concerned for ours and our daughter’s welfare.

Ben’s view on abortion is that he is “unabashedly and entirely pro-life.” He goes on to explain that he has performed surgery on infants pre-birth and through that has realized that they are “very much alive.”

Ben is also for giving homosexuals rights, but not marriage. He claims, as I believe, homosexuality is a choice, not something we are born as. He did have a time in 2013 when he came under fire for likening homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality. He admitted he took the metaphor too far and apologized publically.

As for immigration, he believes that we should not deport the illegal immigrants, but create a guest worker program for them similar to Canada’s. He does feel that there should be stronger penalties for those who employ illegal immigrants, but that we need to create a program for immigrants to do the jobs that American’s choose not to do.

I am a little concerned with the wording used on his website for faith in our society. He wrote an example of people performing their faith privately to explain his stance. As a Christian, the Bible calls us to perform our faith in the public eye. We cannot be closet Christians. While I don’t believe that a certain faith should be mandated in America, I do believe that we need to be able to practice our faith in the public eye.

Based on my study of Dr. Carson, I would not withhold a vote from him, but I would watch him very carefully in the debates, especially around the topics of faith. I would also watch carefully around abortion because I want to see if his words that he shares on his website are his beliefs in the debate.

Marco Rubio – Senator of Florida

Rubio is very strongly pro-life and has come out saying we need to legislate rights for children in the womb. With regard to gay marriage, he has said that he supports the states right to re-define marriage, but strongly believes in one man-one woman marriage. I find this is a little suspect. To me it sounds too much like the easy way out to have both sides support him and he can, like Pilate, wash his hands of the whole debate.

One thing I found interesting is that he supports a $20 million tax credit to companies that produce G-rated and PG-rated movies. I think that is a great way to show that he believes it IS government’s role to legislate morality. With regard to immigration, he believes in a modified amnesty. They would receive their cards after 10 (or 15, depending on which quote you read of his) years. He also believes, as I do, we need to focus on stopping the future illegal immigrant and stop punishing the current ones.

His faith life is interesting. Being Latino, one would think Catholicism would lead his views, and it does, to a degree. But when he was a pre-teen, he was Mormon and, at 13, convinced his family to convert back to Catholicism.

My concerns with him are more from a scandal standpoint. First he is a member of the Tea Party, an organization that I do not associate with. But a scandal broke a few years ago that he overspent on the GOP credit card, including expenses on haircuts and repairing his family minivan. He also double-billed the GOP for flights that he took. Now he has paid back much of the money, but has refused to pay some back claiming they were legitimate expenses.

I don’t know how I feel about Rubio. I think he is a fairly casual Christian who will use faith as a vote-generator but will leave faith out when it help gain votes. Just because I have a negative feeling in my gut, I will withhold my vote for Rubio until he proves himself more. Overall, it was the scandals that did it for me.

Scott Walker – Governor of Wisconsin

Walker doesn’t post his views to issues directly on his website. They are found in reading various blog posts. And this is not unlike him to avoid issues. He has come out saying he believes in evolution and then ran away from the issue as people asked questions about it until he finally came out with a statement that he believes God created humans but science and faith are not incompatible. While I agree with him that science and faith are compatible, I also strongly believe that if you get the first few chapters of the Bible and the last few chapters of the Bible understood and believe them, then the middle makes sense.

He claims he is strongly pro-life, yet will only approve a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. However, only a month earlier, he said he supports banning all abortions. Typical government double speak.

Because of this, Scott, I cannot vote for you, someone who blatantly lied to the people! You claim to support banning all abortions yet sign the bill to ban after 20 weeks. Liar.

Reject your vote for Scott Walker.

Jeb Bush – Former Governor of Florida

Ok, I have to come out and say it, the name Bush scares the crap out of me! During the darkest point in our American history since the Civil War, I supported what was likely one of THE worst presidents I believe our country ever knew (I think it is a toss-up between Bush 43 and Carter).

In a typical political fashion, you can see the changing of beliefs through the years as a politician ages and gets more ambitious. When he first started, he was quoted saying “Don’t need laws about abortion if we understand about moral absolutes.” A few short years later, he was claiming that he does support abortion for limited cases (rape, incest, etc….). Then in 2012, he came out against the views of the GOP (not always a bad thing, but in this case I believe it is) in saying that we have to change the message in order to build a base among women and minorities.

In January, it came out that Bush said that we should not have rights for LGBT because that approves of sodomy. Yet in the same month, he is quoted as saying that we need to respect same-sex unions and lifelong commitments.

Bush does feel as I do that illegal immigration is not a crime, but an act of serving your family in most cases, to get them a better life. To that, he supports the DREAM act. He has come out saying that the GOP needs to be considered the party of inclusion and acceptance and has started voicing his views which run counter to traditional GOP agendas.

Jeb, sorry. I cannot approve of your stances and you changes. You are entirely too prone to wave in the wind, wherever the votes will fall. For that, Jeb, I must call you a liar and reject a vote for you.

And that brings us to the last name,

Donald Trump – Businessman and television personality

Trump and I don’t believe in much of the same stuff at all. He calls for banning late term abortions only unless the woman was raped or the baby is a product of incest. Even though he claimed the be converted to pro-life.

He has come out saying we need to tolerate diversity, but then not long after comes out saying no partner benefits and gay marriage.

Overall, I could say a LOT more about Trump, but will decline. I am sure you can see where my vote is going, and it is NOT to Trump. You are a wishy-washy liar under the guise of a strong businessman.

Next week I will look at the Democratic contenders for the Presidency of the United States.

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