The Gospel: The Foundation For Our Character

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[3] For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. [4] But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, [5] he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, [6] whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, [7] so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [8] The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

 

(Titus 3:3-8 ESV)

 

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Mentors: Supers For Our Soul

[2] Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. [3] Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, [4] and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, [5] to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. [6] Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. [7] Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, [8] and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. [9] Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, [10] not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

(Titus 2:2-10 ESV)

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Sermon: Pastors and Church Discipline

 

[9] He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.  (Titus 1:9 ESV)

 

[9] But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. [10] As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, [11] knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:9-11 ESV)

 

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Explaining The World Vision Reversal In One Graphic

On Monday, Christian parachurch organization World Vision announced an HR policy change that now allowed for the hiring of professing born-again employees who were in same-sex marriages that were legal in their states (World Vision is located in Washington state, where same-sex marriages are legal).

33 minutes ago, they announced that after reconsideration (and a storm of controversy, donor backlash, and pulled funding) that they would be reversing their decision.

Now, there is much to wade through in terms of theology, ecclesiology, essentials and non-essentials, when to appeal to the local church, etc… but allow me to sum up this reversal decision in one graphic:

Slide1

 

Theology, agendas, leadership, and American values aside, this was ultimately going to boil down to funding.  Without funding, World Vision’s organization and mission closes up shop tomorrow.  This is one of the realities of the marketplace in America — and why we don’t need legislation protecting pro-gay folks from discrimination in the marketplace.  If people vote with their money, then there is already a penalty within the marketplace for standing one’s ground — As World Vision just found out.

I heard Al Mohler say recently that one of his primary strategies for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was to connect the “funders” to the “future.”  SBTS has no shortage of vibrant scholastic activity and is churning out pastors, missionaries, and professors at an amazing rate.  Some seminaries are drying up and dying.  Why?  They are not connecting their funders to their future, for various reasons.

If World Vision wants to continue (and, it may be too late), they are going to have to connect their historical funders (many of whom look like my grandma, vote like my grandma, read the Bible like my grandma, and believe in the value of marriage like my grandma) with their future.  Their future may be more in favor of gay marriage, but their funders are certainly not — as today’s reversal reveals.

My prayer for World Vision is much like Trevin Wax’s prayer — that the children would be spared.  I pray that the grandma’s with the money have not pulled all funding from World Vision and given it instead to Compassion International — a ministry that has not ever made a decision to affirm gay marriage as a theological point of emphasis.

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Craig Sager’s Hair: Why I Like This Baylor Team

I attended the ORU v. Baylor game at the end of 2013 and spoke to a few people close to the team.  The mood at that time (Baylor was ranked in the top 15 and lost only to Syracuse) was one of excitement and a sense that this team could be special.

I remember thinking during that now infamous 8-game losing streak was that this team was an underachieving un-special team.  And yet as I spoke with people close to the team they maintained that this team could make a deep run into the tournament.

Video clips like this illustrate the special nature of this particular Baylor team.  They love playing together.  They have fun on and off the court.  They photobomb reporters.  They mess up Craig Sager’s hair. Oh, and they demolish opposing teams on the court with a high-scoring offense and a stifling zone defense.

And, lest we neglect to mention it, they have had 5 players saved and baptized this year. Scott Drew and company are doing the Lord’s work. :) To illustrate it best, when Isaiah Austin was asked about the factor that made the difference for their team this year, His answer was, “God.”

 

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Why Christians Should Consider Rooting For Baylor

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Fox Sports has a pretty decent article on Scott Drew, Baylor Basketball, and The Gospel. Scott Drew’s Baylor University men’s basketball team had a stretch of games early this season where they did not win.  In other words, they lost a lot of games.  The team’s response from that stretch of failure has been amazing.

Since starting 2-8 in Big 12 play, They finished 9-9 and went to the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament, a loss to Iowa State.  They finished the regular season 24-11 and ranked in the Top-25.

But that is not the amazing response that I am talking about.

I am talking about the fact that five of their players prayed to receive Christ this season.  That these players were baptized as public professions of faith.  That the team made getting right with God a higher priority than getting into the NCAA tournament.  That the team came to peace with God, which transcends a season of college sports. That the coaching staff and administration led, prayed towards, and encouraged their players to live in correspondence with reality — and made that a priority within a culture of sports that privileges a worldview of “just win baby.”

Coach Scott Drew said this of the losing stretch:

“We may not win another game this year, and I may be a horrible coach, but if any of these guys leave without knowing Christ, that will be the real loss.”

Team Chaplain Mark Wible (disclosure: a personal friend and mentor of mine) said this of this season:

“That was a highlight, one of those top 10-15 lifetime things. To be able to see the visible response of guys hearing the message, receiving the message and accepting the message . . . It wasn’t me, pastor Brewer, it was everybody. It is a consistent theme throughout the whole basketball department, that we develop them not just as basketball players, but to develop them as people and their spiritual lives as well.”

You can read the whole article here.  There are so many good things about it, from the older mentoring of Brady Heslip in sharing the Gospel with Kenny Cherry, to the beautiful baptism scene at Highland Baptist Church.

I am not suggesting that you change your brackets to have the Bears go all the way to the Championship game (As I have), but I am suggesting that you consider rooting for Baylor.

 

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Brittney Griner And The Uncomfortable Tension of Tolerance

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Bryce Cherry, sports editor for the Waco Tribune-Herald wrote a great piece about his perspective on the Brittney Griner v. Baylor culture storyline.  Perhaps it is not a major storyline on many of the sports media outlets you may be reading.  But for folks in and around Wacoland, Griner’s comments have caused no shortage of heartache and disappointment.

Griner is set to release a memoir of her life and basketball career to this point (She is 23 years of age) entitled In My Skin.  Through a series of preview excerpts Griner has lobbed her own bomb into the current discussion about being Gay and tolerance and university life.  Cherry’s piece highlights some of these comments.

“I would love to be an ambassador for Baylor, to show my school pride, but it’s hard to do that,” Griner writes. “It’s hard to stand up and say ‘Baylor is the best!’ when the administration has a written policy against homosexuality. I’ve spent too much of my life being made to feel like there’s something wrong with me. And no matter how much support I felt as a basketball player at Baylor, it doesn’t erase all the pain I felt there.”

No doubt, Griner existed during a unique time in Baylor sports history and she was not able to be the only big-time athlete on campus. Whether intentional or not, she would always be viewed against the outspokenly God-following, church going, heterosexual, genius, Heisman winner RGIII.  She would be viewed against the outspokenly God-fearing, church going, heterosexual, dunk machine Quincy Acy. She would be viewed against the outspokenly evangelistic, church going, super-marriage guy, Nick Florence.  And Brittney was not outspoken about God, not heterosexual, and not an ambassador.

But as Cherry notes over and again in the article, Griner was nonetheless beloved and embraced at Baylor and by Wacoans.

During her four years in Waco, Baylor always had Griner’s back. Baylor’s administration, coaches and fans stuck up for her when the rest of the world wouldn’t.

And again:

But Baylor didn’t just defend Griner — it embraced her. It wrapped its arms around her, Bear-hug style, and didn’t let go. Fans turned out in droves to watch her warm up, much less play. Legions of pint-sized, pony-tailed future ballers wore her No. 42 jersey. She became a fixture in Waco, as ubiquitous as Dr Pepper, and fans still approached her for autographs and photo ops everywhere she went.

This is, no doubt, a complex matter and I personally feel for Brittney.  But remember that everyone has a unique story.  Remember that Griner committed to Baylor in 2007 during her sophomore year (and maybe unofficially at an earlier date). Let’s assume that her sexual orientation was not fully understood or appreciated at this point in her development as a woman.  Let’s also assume that she had not fully developed as a theological thinker.  Let’s also assume that she has historically attended a black church growing up and that this community of believers colored the way she would approach and understand sexuality.  The Black church in America has always (I repeat always) had to wrestle with and worship among gay church members in ways that (I don’t think) white churches can fully appreciate or understand.

So put all those assumptions together.

If Griner had committed to Baylor as a 15 year old, if she never knew a world where being gay and Christian caused drastic drama, if she was not even fully aware of the ramifications of sexual orientation and sexual identity, then it would make sense that she would be blindsided by the prospects of coming of age (sexually and theologically) within a culture where gay and Christian were not permitted to coexist in tension.  Wouldn’t this set of assumptions explain Griner’s realized blindsidedness? Why Griner harbors such strong feelings today? Why she would consider Baylor to be an intolerant Christian university?  Why she would have not been able to be an RGIII type of ambassador?

Again, I feel for Griner.  But I also suspect that the theological/sexual development process played a much bigger role in her experience.  I suspect that Baylor’s culture was not out to get her or any other gay students.

Baylor has always been Baylor.  That doesn’t mean that Griner was fully aware of the decision she was making to come play for Baylor.  It also doesn’t absolve Baylor from intentionally recruiting a student-athlete who may not be in keeping with the university’s culture on sexuality (Which would set this student athlete up for heartache and frustration). But it does mean that Baylor has plenty of evidence to suggest that their pro-heterosexual Christianity is less of a capricious attack on an individual student and more of a consistently applied culture.  And in light of this consistent culture, I would also say that Baylor has been, as I have written before, a flawed but honest example of Christian tolerance.

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