Thursday, November 27, 2014

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2014


Thoughts on Ferguson

The grand jury charged with reviewing the actions of Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO has declined to indict Wilson with a crime.  The resulting protests are beginning to subside though the strong feelings on both sides of the case remain.  Ferguson is not the only community to see protests as a result of this decision.  Here in Atlanta there have been protests as well.  This story will continue to develop in the coming weeks and months as the evidence, not publicly available is reviewed.

The Evidence – The prosecutor in this case has made nearly all of the evidence available to the public (CNN has done us the service of posting links).  Initial reviews have focused on witness testimony that often contradicted itself or the physical evidence or was provably wrong based on the forensic evidence.  Brown was not shot in the back or in the back of the head as some witnesses alleged though some persist in their insistence of putting forward a version of events that simply could not have happened.  While the public review of the evidence will continue, it is important to remember that twelve members of the Ferguson community reviewed all of the evidence and heard all of the testimony before reaching their decision. 

The Response – Unless you have been completely unplugged from any and all media, you are aware that protests began almost immediately after the decision of the grand jury was made known to the public.  There is a tremendous difference between protesting and rioting.  Whether justice was served in Ferguson will continue to be passionately debated for years and the position one takes largely depends on the worldview one holds.  What is not open to debate is that violence is never the answer.  The destruction of property that has been front and center in the media recently only undermines the legitimate concerns of the community.

The Family – Neither the decision nor the response changes the fact that Brown’s family is mourning his loss and do not feel that justice has been served.  They see a police officer that went too far, a judicial system that failed them, and the continuation of systemic racism.  Regardless of the view one holds of this particular situation, the underlying tension is real. Failure to acknowledge this either willful ignorance or intellectual dishonesty.

The Reason – So much pain, so many people expressing their outrage at the decision, so many inappropriate responses, so little reaching out to one another.  At the heart of this controversy is sin, plain and simple.  Man continues to rebel against God, trusting in himself, and getting the same results we have always gotten. (Jeremiah 17:5; Romans 1:19-32).  The behavior is not surprising.  The tragic outcome should be expected. 


The Solution – Professional football player Benjamin Watson has articulated the solution and I am hopeful his willingness to use his influence will be joined by others to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The solution to the problem of sin and hatred and animosity towards one another is salvation found only in Christ.  The way we relate to one another will not improve without the transformation of hearts and minds and that is only truly possible when we are one in Christ.  I am hopeful that Watson’s voice will be joined by others who understand this and are not afraid to share the good news.

Monday, August 25, 2014

2015 Johnny Hunt Men's Conference

Kids are back in school, summer is winding down and it is time to start looking ahead towards the holiday season and beyond. It is also time to start planning for the 2015 Johnny Hunt Men's Conference! The 23rd annual conference is right around the corner January 30-31. This year there will be an awesome live event at First Baptist Church Woodstock.  FBCW is also partnering with Lifeway® to simulcast the conference worldwide.  

The theme this year is "WIN FROM WITHIN: Feel the Force of Forgivness!"  

2015 Johnny Hunt Men's Conference Promotional Video from FBCWoodstock on Vimeo.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hobby Lobby & Conestoga Wood Specialties SCOTUS Decision

So many opinions being expressed about the SCOTUS' decision this morning concerning Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties which I think is good.  The more people pay attention to what's happening locally, in our states, and in our nation, the better!  However, there are an awful lot of those opinions that are simply not based on the facts.  Hobby Lobby's health insurance coverage, prior to ACA, provided coverage for sixteen different methods of birth control and even included us guys.  I haven't heard much talk about that little fact.  There are others too! 

The decision specifically states that it deals solely with the contraceptive mandate (p. 46 of the majority opinion) so those who are making much of a company refusing to cover blood transfusions or immunizations or even permitting discrimination in hiring practices, for example, are either willfully ignorant of the ruling or intentionally deceptive.  Either way, they are being intellectually dishonest in their protests of the decision. 

The court today ruled that the Contraceptive Mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that the US House of Representatives passed unanimously and the US Senate passed by a vote or 97 - 3.  President Bill Clinton signed that bill into law in 1993.  As a reminder for my liberal friends, the Democrats controlled both the House and Senate in 1993.  The history of how that law came into being may be of interest to some of my friends and it is actually a good read. 

I have included a link to the actual ruling for those who might choose to take the time to read it.  Like most legal rulings, it is a bit dry, but is worth the time to read.  Also, Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion as well as the dissent written by Justice Ginsburg is rather interesting in and of themselves.  At a time in our nation when many people are choosing sexuality as the basis of self-definition, it is refreshing to be reminded by the highest court in our nation that people have a right to believe in a divine creator and to strive for their own self-definition based on those beliefs.  Further, that right is not excluded from the political, civic, and economic life of the larger community (p. 1-2, Justice Kennedy concurring opinion).  In other words, people of faith have every right to participate in public life and do so in a way consistent with their religious beliefs.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Jesus Affirmed

I was having a conversation with a friend recently who is struggling with some of the things he finds in Scripture. I reminded my friend that we do not get to pick and choose that which we will believe in God's word. You see my friend is struggling with, among other things the story of Jonah. Can't possibly be a real account of an actual event...right? I disagree!
Stay with me for a second and I will tie this all together! My Sunday School class is in a study of Proverbs and Song of Songs focusing on Solomon. Well, during my studies, I was reminded of Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV) which reads as follows:
"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here."

While preparing for our series in Proverbs and Song of Songs, this little reminder pops up that ties Jesus, Solomon, and Jonah all together in a single passage! Here's the hook folks: you can't say you accept Jesus and then deny the things that He affirmed! It simply doesn't work and honestly, it is really bad theology. I love how God weaves everything together for our good!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A New Season

My regular readers have noticed that my blogging activity has slowed down considerably since beginning doctoral work at The SouthernBaptist Theological Seminary.  Well, the workload is significant and requires a good bit of my time.  Still, I love blogging and can’t seem to stay away.  I wanted to take a moment to share some new developments with you.

Being a husband, father, student, working fulltime, and serving in various capacities in our church, time is a valuable commodity.  With such a full schedule professionally, academically, and personally, it was with a sad heart that I served my last shift this past Monday with The HopeQuest Ministry Group.  For nearly two years I have been privileged to serve alongside amazing people who love the Lord and have a heart for those struggling with life dominating issues related to alcohol abuse (or dependence), substance abuse (or dependence), or sexual brokenness.  The highlight of my time mentoring with HopeQuest has been watching the TREK program of this ministry successfully go through the process of becoming licensed by the State of Georgia.  I have developed friendships that will last the rest of my life and will continue to have a special place in my heart for this vital ministry.

With the closing of one door, another has been opened.  I will begin teaching a median adult Sunday School class at First Baptist Church Woodstock next week during the 8:00 a.m. Sunday School hour.  Melisa and I are humbled to be called to serve in this capacity and excited about the opportunity to play a small part in the discipleship ministry of this wonderful church.  We hope to bring an even greater focus on discipleship to the class with an eye towards missions.  We have witnessed the power of small groups firsthand and are eager to see how the Lord uses this class! 

As always, I covet your prayers and greatly appreciate your encouragement.  We are on an incredible journey and it is pure joy to be able to share it with you.

Chris

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Educational Philosophies - Part Three: Essentialism, Existentialism, and Postmodernism

Essentialism: a second reaction to pragmatism/experimentalism/progressivism, essentialism found common ground with the perennialist view of progressive educational practices attempting to be a painless endeavor.[1]  Both idealism and realism inform the essentialist, many of whom feel that schools have declined and stricter discipline and returning to the basics are called for.  Essentialism is a conservative position which is more interested in teaching established facts and truth rather than innovating and providing educational frills.[2]

Students are viewed as a receptacle to be filled by the essentialist teacher preferably using lecture to deliver the tried and true essentials of education.  History, in this view, has validated this approach and teachers rarely experiment with other philosophical views.[3] Though essentialists have much in common with perennialists, they do differ in a number of ways, notably in that essentialists are more willing to absorb the perceived positive contributions of progressivism.  Another key difference is that perennialism has traditionally been focused on higher education while essentialism is concerned more with elementary and secondary education.[4]  

Existentialism: Anthony and Benson differ somewhat on the history of existentialism from Knight.  Interestingly, Knight describes existentialism as “nearly all a twentieth-century product”[5] where Anthony and Benson describe origins in the eighteenth century though they do mention a new birth with most existential philosophers being prominent twentieth-century thinkers.[6]  Defining existentialism is difficult as their prominent voices differ on so much.  They do not seek ultimate meaning or purpose in the world believing each person must make such decisions on their own. 

Existential teachers do not believe in a particular type or form of curriculum as they prefer students to discover individual meaning.  These teachers despise traditional instruction viewing it as being coercive though they do understand the need for basic content.  Additionally, vocational training is frowned upon since any career can be used to discover truth and reality.  This philosophy is incompatible with the Christian worldview as it denies absolutes of any kind leaving the individual to determine truth for themselves. 

Postmodernism: Noddings states that postmodernism is more a mood than a movement.[7]  The best way to understand postmodernism may be as a reaction to modernism.  The modernist views the world as a reasonable place that cannot only be understood but a place where there are fixed laws which underpin reality and human thought.[8] The postmodernist rejects such thoughts stating that there is no foundation upon which to rest such beliefs.  Pragmatism, existentialism, and Marxism are the undergirding for postmodern thought.

In the classroom, postmodernism does not believe that a single curriculum is suitable for all students and does not believe teaching the seven liberal arts of the Enlightenment.  Postmodern teachers focus on the social impact of their classroom content and creating an awareness of how a dominate culture has used its position to control a powerless culture.[9]  Postmodernism seeks to broaden the horizons of students and encourage them to give equal weight to other worldviews as their own.  Truth is determined by the individual and as such is incompatible with a Christian worldview. 



[1] Knight, 119.
[2] Ibid, 120.
[3] Anthony and Benson 394-95.
[4] Knight, 125.
[5] Knight, 75.
[6] Anthony and Benson, 402.
[7] Noddings, Nel. Philosophy of Education, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia, PA: Westview Press, 2012), 77.
[8] Knight, 89.
[9] Anthony and Benson, 405.