Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prayer That Pleases God, I Kings 3

Sorry that I missed you last week. I experienced some tech issues that made connecting to this particular website impossible.

If God offered to give you anything you wanted, what would it be? Financial security? Safety for your family? World peace? This is exactly what God offers to Solomon in I Kings 3. God comes to him in a dream in response to his love and faithfulness. It is surprising how the young king responds. Instead of asking for weath or power, he asks for wisdom in leadership and moral discernment. Instead of focusing on what might bring him short term pleasure he instead prays a prayer that pleases God. In our culture that seems to focus so intently on immediate gratification his prayer seems sadly out of place. It is our loss.

May the prayers of our heart focus on discovering and living out the heart of God.

Grace and Peace, Tom

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Come Thirsty Isaiah 55:1-5, Matthew 5:6

In Matthew 5:6 Jesus pronounces; “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Have you thought lately about being hungry and thirsty for God and God’s way? The rumble of our stomachs calls us to the dinner table. Our parched lips demand that we pick up the glass of ice cold water that awaits us. Jesus uses the earthy and understandable images of hunger and thirst to help his hearers to understand the kind of spiritual desire we need to claim in our relationship with God; the kind of passion that makes us want to continually come into God’s presence. We find the same kind of language in Isaiah 55 where the great prophet tells us not to settle for anything less than the filling presence of God. What does that look like in contemporary life? How do we discover and then demonstrate a hunger and a thirst for God and God’s way?

One of the ways we will seek to live this out at First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City this week will be in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We will talk about having our hunger filed with the Bread of Life (John 6:35). We will talk about having our thirst quenched with the Living Water (John 4:5-10). These pictures will shape our conversation over the table. They will call us to claim the kind of relationship with the one named Jesus that can fill our hearts and lives. They will call us to the everyday kind of devotion that we hope will help us foster a longing for an ongoing relationship with God.

So, I invite you to join us in worship – and come thirsty!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Living Between Flag and Cross, Matthew 8:5-13

Over the course of this weekend pastors across the United States will stand and speak to what it means to live in the tension between our citizenship in heaven and our citizenship in the heartland. Some will step into their pulpits and wrap themselves in the flag. Others will stand so passionately behind the cross that the flag will fade from sight. I am not sure either do justice to what it means to live as a Christian in the United States. It seems that many think the terms are synonymous. Even a casual look across our culture will immediately show that this is not true. In Matthew 8 we encounter the story of the centurion in Capernaum who seeks the healing of his servant. The centurion lives as a symbol of the government and power. He recounts that when he spoke those under his authority responded to his commands without hesitation. But he also understands that Jesus represented a very different kind of power; the power of God. His desire to see the healing of his servant places a symbol of government at the feet of the one who will claim a cross.

I have a deep love for our nation. My home displays the red, while, and blue of the American flag with pride. My experiences as a missionary tell me that the freedom of faith and worship we experience here is a great gift that should be cherished and celebrated. But, it is clear to me that the first loyalty of my heart must be for this one named Jesus. We must be clear that the flag and the cross are not the same nor speak with the same authority. We are called to struggle with the tension to live as people under the authority of our land and the authority of God. We must acknowledge that we are “to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” I must make sure that in my passion to proclaim, “God Bless America” that I do not fail to cry out, “America, Bless God….Seek God….Listen for God’s Voice.” We are a people that live between the freedom found in the flag and the life and eternal freedom found at the foot of the cross. We are called to be a people of faith and witness in the land where God has placed us. In our effort to find the cultural acceptance of our community we can not forfeit our voice of faith and our journey toward a right life with God. So, let us celebrate. Let the fireworks burst in the sky to proclaim the birth of a nation where we can claim religious liberty. Let us claim that liberty to give our whole lives to God.


Southern Professor Deserves an "F"

On June 27th ethicsdaily.com ran an article entitled, “Southern Baptist Scholar Links Spouse Abuse to Wives' Refusal to Submit to Their Husbands.” It details comments made by Dr. Bruce Ware, a professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in a recent sermon in Texas. Ware ties spousal abuse to women’s sinfulness expressed by refusing to submit to their husbands. He contends that his views are consistent with the balance of the faculty at Southern. His comments are remarkable. First of all, his arguments reflected poor Biblical scholarship. His argument reaches back to a prehistoric claim that the fall of humanity is tied Eve’s taking of the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden story in Genesis 3. He ignores the fact that the story places Adam “with” Eve at the tree and that she has to do little and say nothing for Adam to choose to eat the same fruit. Adam had heard the same argument from the evil one and bought it just as quickly. Ware’s argument wants to let men off the hook for our sinfulness by placing it on Eve’s shoulders and wants to let abusive men of the hook by placing the blame on a abused wife for her refusal to submit to their husband’s authority. Ware ignores much of the teaching of the New Testament where we hear that in Christ we are neither male nor female and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It ignores the Ephesians 5:21 where husbands and wives are told to submit to one another and in Ephesians 5 where the husband is commanded to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” and “in this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” In his attempt to become an apologist of men, he becomes an apologist for the abusive husband. Real men do not hit women and credible Christian leaders do not justify it. Ware deserves an “F” for his message. I also hope that he is wrong in his assumption that his views are representative of the Southern faculty. The idea of a faculty that would serve as apologetics for abusive spouses would be beyond belief.

Shaking my head in disappointment, Tom