Ichabod—Has the Glory of the Lord Departed from the SBC?

Hello, my friends. I write this with a heavy heart. I grew up attending Southern Baptist churches, my undergrad and graduate studies were at Southern Baptist schools (except my senior year), and I presently attend an SBC church. There was a time, I believe, when this denomination was a beacon of light; however, for the last several years there has been a growing darkness within it. There have been weeds, planted by the evil one, growing to choke out the truth, as ministers of darkness have crept in teaching doctrines that are contrary to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us not dismiss stern warnings in Scripture. Jesus warned,

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 13:36-42

Jude warns of an ever present danger:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 3-4

Understand, my loyalties are not to the SBC, as much as I care about it. For the SBC is not my Savior or Redeemer. I have an issue with those leaders who are drifting to the left and further away from sound teachings of Scripture. Let’s be clear, the Scriptures are not silent about issues like abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, or even godless philosophies underlying the whole “woke” nonsense (these will be discussed later). But I also have an issue with those drifting to the right who minimize the seriousness of sexual allegations and abuse, as well as racial tension. The Scriptures, likewise, are clear about moral and pure conduct, discipline for the immoral, and the value God places on His people of every ethnicity.

I read articles of so much bias, half-truths, outright lies, slander, arrogance, and deliberate stirring of division. Churches and individuals can pay lip service of doing “all for the glory of God” until the return of Christ, but is Jesus truly honored by any of this? Is He pleased or glorified by people behaving in their flesh and sin? Is He honored by persons casually setting aside His statutes? Indeed, He is a God of grace, but He is just as much a God of truth. We must strive to not separate the two.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17

For example, I read and article in which Beth Moore, as well as the author, accuse the “Trump cult” conservatives of criticizing her for her verbal attacks on Trump (Note: Trump was not who I initially desired to see become president). No, for many of us, our criticism has little to do with that as much as her hypocrisy. In her open condemnation of Trump for sexual allegations, she openly gave full endorsement of Hillary Clinton, whose DNC platform was nothing short of a celebration of death of the unborn. Not only that, Clinton’s position on nearly everything is anti-Christ and clearly in opposition to biblical teachings and values. Furthermore, while Trump was condemned for his injustice toward women, nothing was ever said about Hillary and Bill’s friendship with Epstein, or about their visits to his island in which human trafficking was taking place. As a former boss of mine had said so well of Hillary supporters, “They condemn Trump for being a sinner, but give their support to a devil.” And this is my issue with Beth, she condemns Trump as an evil man, yet endorsed a person three times the child of hell as him.

Before I continue, what we are seeing is nothing new. If one reads the Prophets, often some of the persons and practices cried out against were corrupt priests and false prophets who permitted sin; child sacrifice; immorality (including temple prostitution/homosexuality); greed; presumption; and idolatry. For modern deceivers who dismiss the Law and Old Testament as irrelevant, Jesus states that He did not come to abolish the Law but fulfill it (see Matt. 5:18-20). Also, the people and the judgements in the OT serve as examples for us (see 1 Cor. 10:1-11; 2 Pet. 2:5-6; Jude 6-7).

We are living in a time when many are either too afraid, or simply refuse, to call sin sin. Many who call themselves Christians have made an unholy alliance with the woke culture, which the very philosophical foundation of this movement is Marxist and anti-Christ. Let us ask such a question along with the apostle Paul,

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Elsewhere, he warns,

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. ~ Colossians 2:8

The “woke” movement, claiming to want to eradicate racism, promotes Critical Race Theory, which portrays whites as being bad on the basis of being white. Such foolishness not only disregard the fact that all people are made in the image of God, but it simply breeds more racism and tension. Furthermore, “wokeness” promotes, breeds, and applauds lifestyles the Bible condemns. It breeds covetousness and discontentment, disregarding solid work ethic, as persons believe we should all have all things in common. Where is this told in Scripture? Rather, we are taught to work, be productive, and to be content with what we have.

As for homosexuality and transgenderism, and the sanctity of marriage, there are those who try to pit the teachings of the apostles against those of Jesus, but there is no conflict. And ultimately, all of Scripture is breathed out by God, and each writer was carried along by the Holy Spirit (see 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21-22). But as for Jesus, He can get no more explicit than when He declares the very institution of marriage God has ordained:

[Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” ~ Matthew 9:4-6

Such behavior is clearly condemned in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Understand, this does not mean we are to mistreat such individuals; however, churches sin whenever they refuse to call such behavior what God calls it—sin. This is no more hateful than calling out heterosexual couples who are committing adultery or fornication. 

Note also, Jesus declares two genders of which God created—male and female. There are no other genders. Then from whence does such confusion come from? Paul says that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33), so we know such confusion within individuals does not come from God. And we can learn further from biblical principles when the apostle writes,

Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:14-16

Let me now switch gears. What about the various sexual allegations which are being swept under the rug? This is serious error of some of those on the right. It angers me when I hear of churches not only silencing women or children who have told of sexual abuse, but of some who have turned a blind eye to known pedophiles. Does God turn a blind eye to any of this? Check out what Jesus, the King of love, declares:

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. ~ Matthew 18:5-6

Or what about racism? While, indeed, CRT is certainly wrong, so is dismissing the concerns of non-white Southern Baptists. I believe, if the denomination as a whole was honest, there is a measure of inequality and segregation. There are some rock solid preachers who are not white, but why are they in the background? Let us be very clear on this matter, Heaven is multicultural by God’s design. We read in Revelation,

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God. ~ Revelation 5:9-10

I could go on, but the question remains, has the glory of the Lord departed from the SBC? This is an important question for churches to be asking. Persons can boast of what the denomination has accomplished, but let us take heed to Jesus’ warnings when He says,

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?”And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21-23

If the glory of the Lord were to depart, sinful religious persons will continue to perform religious duties. However, such churches would be nothing but whitewashed tombs, attractive on the outside but death within.

Brothers and sisters, we have sinned greatly as a people and a denomination. May God grant us repentance, broken hearts, and contrite spirits. May we repent of all sin, and may the glory of the Lord return. And may we cease to glory in our denomination but glory only in the Lord.

There are many people who “believe” in Jesus but who are not saved. They know many biblical teachings and that Christ died and arose—but they refuse to repent and follow Him.

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. ~ John 6:66 

Beneath all the blame shifting in our country, the truth is probable that each of us bears a piece of the blame for the mess we are in.

I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.  We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes , and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. ~ Nehemiah 1:6-7

Revive Us, O Lord

You might be familiar with the word to an old hymn:

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love.
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.
~ from “Revive Us Again” by William P. Mackay 

Whatever happened to the words “revive” and “revival”? These used to be spoken of more, even prayed for, in churches but have somehow fallen on the wayside. This is tragic, since we are in such desperate need of revival.

Imagine, for a moment, a cruise ship. On board are people involved in various activities. Some are working, some are in meetings concerning itinerary, and others are running to the next fun activity. Many are content with a sense of safety and security. However, look over the rails and there are literally multitudes drowning in the waters. Is this not unthinkable that those on the ship would not have a sense of urgency to help as many as they could?

I am not trying to be critical nor am I saying fun, rest, and relaxation are wrong. However, are not many churches like this ship and its passengers? We have our meetings and planners set for coming events, but often there lacks any real sense of urgency. Oh sure, we want our churches to grow numerically, but does it always have to do with “souls being saved”? While we might say, “Yes!” But does this include those who are quite different than us? The “sinners” and outcasts for whom Jesus also died? Shame on us when the gospel is more for “people like us.” Lord God, have mercy on us for our Pharisaical hypocrisies!

Our church events, like any secular entertainment, are fleeting. The persons (i.e., souls) around us are eternal. How can our hearts not be burdened for the perishing? Oh, that God would revive us again!

We’re Going to Heaven (but So Many Won’t Go)

We’re going to Heaven—O glorious day!
But still there’s so many who are lost on the way.
Will our hearts have compassion, will we be saddened so—
That we’re going to Heaven, but so many won’t go?

We’re going to Heaven, but so many to hell;
My brothers and sisters we have Great News to tell—
That on an ol’ Cross Jesus died for our sins,
Opening Heaven so that all may go in.

We’re going to Heaven, but are family and friends?
Will they know Jesus when they come to the end?
Oh, do they know how much God loves them so?
We’re going to Heaven, but will they, too, go?

We’re going to Heaven—O glorious day!
But still there’s so many who are lost on the way.
Praise God, Jesus saves! Let the redeemed say so—
We’re going to Heaven … but so many won’t go.
~ Geno Pyse

It’s a Beautiful Morning

Followers of Jesus Christ are not to live in deliberate or habitual sin. We are asked, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1 -2, ESV). Furthermore, elsewhere the purposes of both grace and salvation are explained:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. ~ Titus 2:11-12

Even so, the Bible teaches us, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins, (Ecc. 7:10) and “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).  And life teaches us experientially that we can sometimes blow it profoundly! How many of us have asked, “Will God forgive me of this? Again???” In fact, some give up altogether that God still loves them and can forgive them.

My friend, perhaps you have asked such questions. Maybe you are wrestling with such doubts now. Believe me, I have been there numerous times. But God’s grace truly is amazing, and the death Jesus died in our stead transcends our understanding. I hope you will be encouraged by the following passages:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:13-14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:17

Perhaps you have blown it big time and guilt haunts you. My friend, look to the cross and the glorious and merciful Savior who had been slain upon it and is now alive forevermore! Find refuge in His mercy and peace in His great love for you. His mercies are new every morning, and there is never a time when we are not in need of them.

America’s Perilous Situation and How We Got Here

The political climate has become extremely divided, hostile, and in some cases violent. The hypocrisy in the accusations thrown around is unbearable. “He is such a liar!” As opposed to whom? “He is so corrupt!” As if the other candidate is not? “He is so evil!” Ah, but it is here we need to ask ourselves, how did we get here?

As Americans, we should be disgusted with both political parties. Both parties have lied to us, both parties have accepted money from lobbyists, both parties have had scandals, and both parties have individuals walking free, yet guilty of crimes the average person would be imprisoned for. We can complain all we want to, but do we, the American people, not bear much of the blame?

I hear people on both sides accusing the other of being liars, all the while ignoring the lies spoken by the candidates they support. I hear people accuse candidates and officials of being “Hitler” or “Nazis,” all the while fully endorsing abortion on demand. I was sickened a few years ago when one particular candidate’s platform was nothing less than a celebration of death. Yet, as a society we want to label candidates as “evil” when our own hearts are void of compassion for the most helpless and innocent?

Oh, let me not ignore the great hypocrisy of Hollywood, those who like to “instruct” us in morality and decency, although many of whom practice neither. Ricky Gervais is correct when he stated that those at the Oscar Awards ceremony are in no position to lecture on such things.

Again, the question must be asked, how did we get here? Consider the following passage:

Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’ And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit….Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts. ~ Jeremiah 2:5-8, 19 (ESV)

We, as a society, always want to point fingers and shift the blame, but do we not bear much of the blame? Consider the last election, for example. How did our main choices come down to Hillary and Trump? We can state our negative opinions of either of these individuals; however, society rejected candidates who have more integrity than either of these individuals. Why? What hypocrisy we must own whenever we accuse others as being “evil,” “immoral,” and “liars” when we reject those who are righteous and persons of integrity. What hypocrisy when we condemn persons as being “immoral,” yet idolize actors and musicians who glorify the raunchiest acts of immorality. What hypocrisy when we accuse others of being “evil” when our own lives are godless and self-indulgent.

Let us not think that the church is guiltless. Consider another passage:

The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. ~ Ezekiel 22:25-28

Many who profess the name of Jesus Christ, too, are guilty of condoning, applauding, and promoting behaviors and practices that God condemns. Furthermore, pride, greed, and various forms of immorality are known to be condoned and/or “whitewashed” among both Catholics and Evangelicals. There are many churches who make no distinction between what is holy and what is profane, and instead of seeking to be true to the Scriptures, many want to simply “agree to disagree,” lest they appear as “judgmental” or “divisive.”

I believe America is in dire straights. Although many will mock, I believe God has already begun judging America (read Romans 1). How did we get into the situation we presently find ourselves in? We have turned from God (and I mean, specifically, the one true God of the Bible) and have rejected His Son Jesus Christ whom He sent to redeem us. More and more society vehemently denounces and opposes God in nearly every sector. Increasingly our society condones what God condemns and scorns what God commends. Even in many churches preachers are casting doubt on the Scriptures and adapting to the world’s philosophies and code of “ethics” instead of what God reveals. Thus, we as a society are guilty of great evil.

I hear people crying, “Trump is ruining our country” or “Biden will destroy America!” But let me be clear, neither man is America’s savior, nor is either man to blame for her path to destruction. Only God can heal our nation, and this can only happen if we, as a nation, repent of our wickedness. Otherwise, not the best of our cunning and strategizing will prevent God’s judgement.

Will God choose to grant further mercies for America? I do not know. However, Nehemiah’s prayer is quite instructive for us, as he humbled himself, confessing the sins of his nation, as well as his own sins and those of his father’s house:

O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded. ~ Nehemiah 1:5-7

We can choose to try to erase history rather than learn from it. We can choose to mock God’s judgment, but it has already begun. Woe to us if we choose to “take our chances” and refuse to repent. We are already walking a thin line, and it is getting ever closer to snapping. What do we have to lose? Far more than we realize.