Showing posts from 2019

Make America Good Again

Perhaps you have heard this quote before:
"I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there. . . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there. . . . .in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there. . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there.  Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.  America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."
The quote is mistakenly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, 17th century French political philosopher. Bartleby’s dictionary of quotations traces the quote to a 1941 book titled The Kingdom of God and the American Dream, by Sherwood Eddy, a theologically liberal Christian socialist and missionary, who claimed to be quoting Tocqueville. …

Cynicism Is NOT A Spiritual Gift: A Confession

Hi. My name is Todd, and I am a cynic. (Hello, Todd)

It is hard for me to recollect when I had my first cynical thought. As God as my witness, I believe it started after my first semester of Bible College. Part of our college experience was to practice criticizing anyone and everyone who believed one jot or tittle differently that we did. After all, we were always right. We had the Bible.

After twenty-one years, I still find my inner cynic rearing his ugly head at least a dozen times a day. To be honest, since I started deconstructing in 2016, it has gotten even worse. 

To be fair, it is very, very hard to realize that everything you have ever believed, thought, and taught was inaccurate. It didn't help that I was asked to leave by the church where I pastored. Honestly, I think they waited a few months too long. My heart just wasn't in it. I wasn't even sure I believed in God anymore back then. Deconstructing has a way of unraveling the entire fabric of your belief system if …

Is It Right For You To Be Angry?

Jonah is an interesting character in the Bible. At church yesterday, the message was about Jonah, and Pastor Kevin really gave me some things to think about. 

Jonah was tasked by God to take his message to the Ninevites. Nineveh is the capital of Assyria, and there is no love lost between the Assyrians and the Israelites. In 701 BC, the city's king, Sennacherib, laid waste to Jerusalem. To say the least, Jonah was very unhappy to be called to speak to the Ninevites. So much so that he fled God's presence to Tarshish aboard a large ship.

The ship was being pelted by storms and high waves. Jonah admitted to the crew what he had done, why he was running, and that it was probably his fault that the ship was in trouble. He told the men to take hold of him and throw him overboard, as he would rather drown to death than take God's message of hope to those evil Ninevites. His life was spared by God, and in chapter three, he is asked once again to go to Nineveh. 

This time, he spitefu…

Milestones of Love and Grace

Yesterday, while Americans were paying their proper respect for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, I became a grandfather! My first grandchild, Amelia Grace Stewart, made her debut at 10:28 am. She is 6.78 pounds and 19 inches of perfection. She is the most beautiful, perfect human being I have ever seen! I haven't stopped smiling in two days! I hope I never do!

I wanted to post some thoughts about the experience, but without all the new grandparent cliche'. I will describe one powerful moment that occurred yesterday evening, and the profound effect it had on me.

I was sitting next to my daughter, Jenna, who carried and then
delivered our little Mia only hours before, and I was holding my new granddaughter. I stared at her little face and remembered vividly the day I first held her mother. Jenna had the same sweet little cheeks and she smiled a lot for a newborn. I remember praying over all of my children when they were babies as I quietly held them. I prayed for Jenna to grow stron…

Why I Am Renouncing the Southern Baptist Convention

To list the reasons one by one would possibly break the internet. I suppose I could break it all down to one simple word: power. The SBC has it, they are losing it, and they do not like it.
What is really happening in the SBC is that all the “absolutes” they have championed at the expense of others over the last 35 years or more are coming back to bite them. Most recently, the issue of women in pastoral ministry (again). 

For many years, the SBC has loved and promoted Beth Moore, arguably one of the best Bible teachers on the planet. In the last year, she has challenged the SBC’s position on not allowing women to be ordained as pastors. Here are a couple of their "gracious" responses:
Then there was this exchange between Moore and Owen Strach…

Knock Knock, Who's There? It's me, Evangelicalism!

"Evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide, trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement." 
This definition came from Wikipedia, and the emphases are mine. As I re-read the definition with grace, faith, and Jesus in bold, I actually have tears in my eyes. The tears are for at least two reasons: 
-- The thought of precious Jesus, giving up all he was and had just to come to this earth to offer total forgiveness and cleansing. Why? Because he would rather die than be without us.

-- The thought of what evangelicalism has become while the church slips deeper and deeper into irrelevance. In this present reality, evangelical Christianity is not about grace, faith, or even Jesus. It is now a political brand where its member carry guns, use the Bible as a weapon, and champion A…

Some of You Have Asked Me

For over three decades I preached like a traditional, conservative pastor should...with should being the operative word. 

You see, for the longest time I did what I was told as a preacher. I preached expository sermons, voted Republican, shared the gospel, and towed the evangelical line.

My fellow pastors were pleased with me, and I figured God was too. After a period of time, however, my heart became empty. I was going through the motions, and trying to hide it from everyone. 

Mind you, I still believed in Jesus, and in the power of prayer...just not my prayers. I believed that I was disgracing the pulpit, which I loved, by the way. I miss preaching. I really do. I left local church ministry in 2016 at the church's request. When that happened I felt like a failure to my family, the ministry, and most of all to God. I had burnt out mentally and emotionally. My feelings were all over the place and I had no control of them. I had a total nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for thre…

A Radically Crazy Idea

My journey to the office requires connecting by way of 3 different interstates and usually takes 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic. If you have ever taken the interstate to work and home, you have probably seen your share of accidents.

In 2018, there were 955 fatalities on South Carolina roads. 955 families who lost loved ones. I am going to sound my age here, but we really shouldn't be surprised when we consider how people drive on the interstate. Just this morning, I counted 18 cars doing at least 20 mph over the speed limit. I saw over a dozen of these speed devils weave in and out of traffic. I often wonder when another SC driver will be killed because of their NASCAR-style driving. 

The thing is, when people speed past me, they almost always have to slow down for bottlenecks in the morning highway traffic or a stop light on the city roads. I wonder if it is really worth it to speed past someone only to have to hit your brakes 200 yards ahead. 

While pondering all of my traffic…

The Proper Time

We have all felt this way. A large percentage of our lives is spent waiting for something. A raise, a blessing, a soul mate, a new job, a promotion, a vacation, and the birth of a baby are but a few of the things we wait for.

After awhile, we begin to doubt whether what we are waiting for will ever come to us. It begins to seem impossible as time passes. We start telling ourselves that maybe we are not worthy of what we are waiting for. Impatience breeds negative self-talk and hurtful doubt.

Galatians 6:9 says to, "Not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest..."

It is very important to understand the value of waiting. The word wait is used over 140 times in the Bible. Waiting is a critical skill to learn if we want to have happier and more stress-free lives.

"At the proper time..." seems to tell us at least two things:

1) There IS a proper time for what is coming to you. God has established that already. Now may not be the proper time fo…

The Winsome Warrior

On May 4, 2019, while most of us were enjoying our annual Star Wars Day, The world lost one of Christendom's most compassionate and joyful stirrers of the fundamental evangelical pot.

Rachel Held Evans was only 37 years old when she died of brain-swelling due to an allergic reaction to antibiotics. Her death seems so unfair to those of us who loved her work. 

While President Trump blew up his Twitter feed, Rachel responded in kind with a thundering call to resist the political machine in favor of grace and ministry to the downtrodden and rejected. Her public decision to support LGBT and transgendered Christians earned her a prominent spot on the fundamental, holy-ghost hit list. 

Two things really stand out for me as I process this terrible loss.

First, RHE was so young. She had two children and a loving husband. There is nothing to the human eye that makes this untimely death make any sense. What we may not see through our grief is that people like RHE are just not long for this worl…

The King's Crown of Grace

Other than Jesus, no biblical figure is as popular and fun to study as David. 

He was anointed as King when he was just a small boy.

He defeated the giant Philistine, Goliath.

David was a popular King. 

David was also a naughty King...

In 2 Samuel 11, we can read the story of how David lusted after a woman named Bathsheba, had her brought to him, got her pregnant, got her husband drunk, and sent him to the front lines of the battlefield where he was killed. King David sinned. He sinned very badly. 

Our society today is obsessed with royalty and celebrities. If Princess Charlotte blows her nose, it is all over the news. Most people cannot name the Vice President of the United States, but they know the Kardashians as if they were their actual family. I'm not upset about that. People like what they like. It is what makes humanity so diverse.

The David and Bathsheba scandal happened around 1,001 B.C. Approximately a quarter of a century later, in 2 Chronicles 7, God is speaking to Solomon, t…

Yes, God Forgives Chris Benoit

In a three-day period between June 22 – 24, 2007, veteran professional wrestler Chris Benoit, murdered his wife and seven-year-old son, and then hung himself on his workout equipment. I will never forget hearing that on the news. The story deeply affected me in at least two ways:
First, as a life-long wrestling fan. I have watched pro wrestling on television and at live events since I was a child. I was particularly a big fan of Chris Benoit. I admired his work ethic and intensity. When the news reported his death, before the rest of the news came out, WWE gave him a hero’s tribute. When the murder-suicide was exposed, WWE announced there would be no further mention of Chris Benoit on any of their programs. And that, as they say, was that.
Secondly, it affected me as a wrestler. Although my time in professional wrestling was minuscule, I definitely gained an even deeper perspective into how physical and dangerous wrestling is. In 2005, I took a fall improperly and shattered the radius …