Monday, March 28, 2011

Speak More About God

Here's my current self-reminder: "I should speak more about God and less about other things."

I am tempted to leave this statement "as is" without comment, but I will say a little more to clarify what I mean.  

I am a thinker, an analyzer.  Along with that, I am also a talker (aren't most pastors and bloggers?): I find I actually do some of my best thinking out loud.  (I am very thankful my wife is a patient listener!)

"I should speak more about God and less about other things."  Recently I've realized (again) how out of balance my thinking and talking can sometimes be.  I can spend 15 minutes or more prattling on about things, from the weather to politics to news events--just about anything.  I can mentally or verbally analyze things to death.  At the end of a long soliloquy, I realize I have accomplished nothing redemptive.  

It's awful to realize how long I can talk without bringing the Lord into the situation.  I sometimes speak in faithless terms, expressing my discouragement at things that don't go well in the world.  In doing this, I not only fail to acknowledge that God is sovereignly in control of these things, but I also fail to use that moment to encourage my hearer(s) to turn their attention to the Lord.  "I should speak more about God and less about other things."

I want to use my thoughts and my words to focus on the greatness of God.  I want to point people to Him every way I possibly can.  Through the things I say, I want to encourage my family and friends to follow the Lord more deeply today than they did yesterday.  Isn't it better to use my words to point to the greatness of our Lord?  He's the one most worthy to be the focus of my words!

To do this, I need to ensure I'm constantly filling my brain with thoughts about God, because my mouth is simply speaking what my brain is thinking.  If I spend more of my thoughts on our Lord, then more of my words will follow.

"I should speak more about God and less about other things."  Will you do this with me?  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Free Speech

Today we witnessed a historic ruling by the Supreme Court.  It has a very negative side, and a very positive side.  

The Court ruled 8-1 that the Westboro Baptist Church is able to say hateful things, put hateful words on signs, and set up demonstrations wherever they want.  These actions, the court said, are within their protected rights under our Constitution.

Let me be clear here: I utterly despise what this Westboro group is doing.  They should not be using the name "Baptist" or "Church," for by their actions they show that they have no idea about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They live by hatred, and they say and do things that are--frankly--abominable.  

But, as we learned today, they have the right to do this, and nobody can stop them.

While this is bad news--I really wish they'd stop their horrible campaigns--there is a very good side to this Court ruling.  Please allow me to explain.

For the last fifteen years or more, our society has moved in a direction that has worried me as a pastor and as a believer in Jesus Christ.  Our country has drifted toward a viewpoint that it is "wrong" or "intolerant" to tell anyone they're wrong, or that their choices are wrong (or sinful).  Segments of our workforce mandate "sensitivity training" so their employees learn not to say anything that might offend a coworker or client.  

Frankly, this trend has scared me, as I have envisioned a day when pastors might be pulled out of their pulpits--or even imprisoned--for declaring, loving and biblically, the truths of God.  I imagined a time when maybe even the Bible would be banned in this country as "hateful," because it clearly enunciates right and wrong behaviors.

With today's definitive Supreme Court ruling, the pendulum has now swung the other way.  We can boldly--though not offensively!--proclaim truth with the same clarity that God's Word declares truth.

While I cringe over the fact that one group of hateful people has been exonerated, and I deeply wish Westboro would cease all of their awful picketing activities, I find that I rest under the same freedoms they enjoy.  For these freedoms, I am grateful.