Four more sections (parts 5-8) from the Christian--Muslim Dialogue this past march.
When This Stray Cat Snuck Into a Nursing Home, Something Really Cool Happened - It ended up being a purr-fect situation!
1 hour ago
Axiom 6: A passionate pursuit of the Great Commission's command to go to the United States and all nations, to disciple, baptize and teach. Starting at home, this means racial reconciliation in every Southern Baptist church and a commitment to reach those of every race and social class in their own communities and elsewhere.
"We must pursue a vision for our churches that looks like heaven," Akin said. "Yes, we must go around the world to reach Asians and Europeans, the Africans and the South Americans. But we must also go across the street, down the road and into every corner of our local mission field where God, in grace, has brought the nations to us.
"This means planting authentically Bible/Baptist churches and filling them with authentic followers of Jesus, irrespective of nationality, race, economic or social status. Genuine discipleship is not negotiable."
Eric Alexander has spent his adult life serving Jesus Christ, in His Church, as a minister of His Word. He has preached Christ exclusively from Holy Scripture, convinced that the Bible is the only reliable and sufficient revelation God has given us of His Son.
The conviction behind all Eric Alexander's preaching is that Scripture is fundamental to the Church's life and continuance, and therefore it is the exposition of Scripture which is fundamental to the Church's pattern of activity.
As the years have passed and the world has changed, he has grown ever more convinced of the urgent priority of summoning the church to the Apostolic priority expressed by the Apostles themselves in Acts 6v4; "We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word."
Forgive them, for they know not what they do." But now, like the prodigal son, we have come to our senses. Our lives are measured not by the lives of others, not by our own ideals, not by what we think might reasonably be expected of us, although by each of those measures we acknowledge failings enough. Our lives are measured by who we are created and called to be, and the measuring is done by the One who creates and calls. Finally, the judgment that matters is not ours. The judgment that matters is the judgment of God, who alone judges justly. In the cross we see the rendering of the verdict on the gravity of our sin.
We have come to our senses. None of our sins are small or of little count. To belittle our sins is to belittle ourselves, to belittle who it is that God creates and calls us to be. To belittle our sins is to belittle their forgiveness, to belittle the love of the Father who welcomes us home.
From the same Latin root come "complicity" and "complexity." Only the dulling of moral imagination prevents us from seeing how we are implicated in the complex web of human evil. The late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was fond of saying, "Some are guilty, all are responsible." We rightly condemn the great moral monsters of history--the Hitlers and Stalins and Maos and lesser mass murderers. Justice requires the gradation of guilt. Distinctions are in order. In important ways, we are not like them, and they are not like us. Yet complicity and complexity alert us to the ways in which their crimes find corrupting correlates in our own hearts. "He who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Such words of Jesus encourage not scrupulosity, but candor. Contemplating the unspeakable crimes of Stalin's gulag archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote, "The line between good and evil runs through every human heart."
We would draw the line between ourselves and the really big-time sinners. For them the cross may be necessary. For us a forgiving wink from an understanding Deity will set things to right. But the "big time" of sinning is in every human heart. We make small our selves when we make small our sins. Fearing the judgment of great evil, we shrink from the call to great good. Like Adam, we slink away to hide in a corner. Like the prodigal son, we hunker down behind the swine's trough of our shrunken lives. But then he came to his senses. He remembered who he was in his former life, in his real life. There is no way to have that dignity restored except through the confession of that dignity betrayed.
Still we hold back from confession, holding on to the tattered remnants of our former dignity. The more Adam hides from his shame, the more he proclaims his shame. What ludicrous figures we sinners cut. It is all so unnecessary; it only increases the complicity that we deny. We act as though there is not forgiveness enough. There is more than forgiveness enough.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Yes, we were there when we crucified our Lord. Recognizing the line that runs through every human heart, no longer do we try to draw the line between "them" and "us." Who can look long and honestly at the victims and the perpetrators of history's horrors and say that this has nothing to do with me? To take the most obvious instance, where would we have taken our stand that Friday afternoon? With Mary and the Beloved Disciple or with the mocking crowds? "Know thyself," the philosophers said, for this is the beginning of wisdom. "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom," wrote the Psalmist. Knowing myself and fearing God, knowing a thousand big and little things that I have done and failed to do, I cannot deny that I was there. In ways I do not fully understand, I know that I, too, did the deed, wielded the whip, drove the nails, thrust the spear.
About chief of sinners I don't know, but what I know about sinners I chiefly know about me. We did not mean to do the deed, of course. The things we have done wrong seemed, or mostly seemed, small at the time. The word of encouragement withheld, the touch of kindness not given, the visit not made, the trust betrayed, the cutting remark so clever and so cruel, the illicit sexual desire so generously entertained, the angry answer, the surge of resentment at being slighted, the lie we though would do no harm. It is such a long and tedious list of little things. Surely not too much should be made of it, we thought to ourselves. But now it has come to this. It has come to the cross. all the trespasses of all the people of all time have gravitated here, to the killing grounds of Calvary.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The ousted former president of a national organization of black Baptist churches is running for the position again, a decade after he was sent to prison for stealing millions of dollars from the group. The Rev. Henry J. Lyons was forced out as leader of the National Baptist Convention USA in 1999 after an investigation revealed he abused his power in the convention to steal about $4 million. He used the money to buy luxury homes and jewelry, and to support his mistresses.