Don’t Be That Guy: The Christian Who Destroyed The Ten Commandments

ten-commandment.jpgShouting, “Freedom” with contemporary Christian music playing in the background, Michael Tate Reed hit the gas pedal of his 2016 Dodge Dart with righteous indignation. Seconds later, he and his car crashed into the Ten Commandments Monument recently installed outside the Arkansas State Capital. His victory would be short lived. Police officers at the capital witnessed the incident and quickly arrested Reed.

Sadly, this not Reed’s first rodeo. He attacked a similar statue in Oklahoma. He also regularly breathes threats of vengeance against former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump. The man has some issues.

His greatest issue is not politicians who blur the line between state and religion. His greatest issue is tied to his view of personal autonomy.

Reed believes he should have the freedom to do what he wants when he wants (all-be-it in weird, conservative, Christian short of way). Thus, he slams into monuments that offend his view of the world and spits a pictures adorning the walls of Federal Buildings.

In his defense of personal autonomy, Reed revealed the ultimate futility of his philosophy.  By fighting for ‘his’ freedom, Reed got jailed, lost social media privileges, and wrecked his car. He lost the ability to act by acting to gain freedom.

Though Reed claims to be functioning from a Christian Worldview, he is not actually following the teachings of the Bible. The very statue he destroyed comes from Exodus 20, which declares, “You shall have no other God’s before me.” God never licenses us to sin if we feel like it. The ruler of the universe tells Reed and every Christian to obey their authorities.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those do good.

– 1 Peter 2:13-14

Reeds fight for freedom did not originate in heaven. It was birthed out of his own thinking. He claims Christianity is his world-view, but his actions align with the religion of self. He does what he thinks is best.

Sadly, he is not alone. Seventy-six percent of Christians believe “that the best way to find yourself is to look inside yourself” and ninety-one percent of Christians believe “you have to be true to yourself.” Though many Christians tap their Bible app every Sunday or crack open their Bible on Wednesday night, they actually function more like secularist than Christians. When these Christians make decisions about whether or not to divorce their spouse, about how to discipline their kids, or about how to handle an argument with a coworker, they mimic Reed. They follow the random ideas floating around in their head instead of seeing what God’s Word has to say about their lives.

As Reed has shown, such decision-making based on our personal autonomy never ends well. Often what seems like a great step towards personal freedom and fulfillment is actually a step towards chains and disappointment. As Proverbs 1:32 says, “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them.”

The wisdom to navigate life and to find true joy and happiness is found in obeying the God of the universe.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. – Proverbs 9:10.

So what kind of Christian are you? Are you the kind that drives into monuments or the kind that fears the Lord?

What Do We Tell Our Kids After The Election?

flag-1Are you ready for tomorrow?  The hours of yucky campaign commercials, snarky Facebook posts, and embarrassing debates will be at an end! Hallelujah! On November 9, 2016, the United States of America will have a new president elect. But once all the dust settles, we will have to face a new question, “What do we do now?” How do we help our kids (who must certainly have heard us discuss politics over the last few days) process the electoral votes and the state of the nation?

America Is Not Our Hope

Many evangelical Christian including yours truly have been rightly dismayed and discouraged by this election. Not only have we lost the power or the moral majority, we have lost the power to significant influence the primary process. Today’s politicians do not even have to pretend to be devoutly religious. They can get away with their lack of zeal because America is no longer a Christian nation. According to a new study by George Barna, only 36% of Americans attended a church service this week and just 2% read their Bibles. And the projections do not have those numbers going up anytime soon. We cannot expect our neighbors to support our Christian worldview or to vote according to our values. Most Americans do not even know what we Christians believe. The Americang government will not be our main agent of change. But then again it was never meant to be. We are called to be ambassadors on earth. We belong to the heavenly kingdom and appeal to the king who changes hearts.

At the end of the day, we are not supposed to boast about America. We are to boast in the goodness of our God who redeems and sanctifies the lost. As Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Its good and proper to thank God for our nation. But it is even better to thank God for being God. Tomorrow morning, remind your kids that God is your hope. Remind them that life is ok because our boast, our hope, our comfort is the Lord of heaven. America is not our hope.


We Will Stand For Truth

Regardless of who you voted for and who wins the presidency, Christians will need to have a prophetic voice. We must continue to speak for the unborn, to champion justice for all, and to protect the innocent and weak. We must show our kids that more money in our bank account does mean when can ignore discrimination and innocent children being murdered. Where the gospel speaks to social and political issues, we must speak to them even if that will put us sideways from our candidate of choice. We cannot condone sin because our politic parties calls evil good (Isa. 5:20).  If we want our kids to value our Biblical values, we must remain consistent. We must avoid the temptation to be a hypocrite for political gain. We speak boldly for the gospel at all times.

 And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. – Luke 12:8

We must stand for the truth of the Bible regardless of the earthly cost.


We Trust God

Regardless who gets the most votes tomorrow, God picked them. God in his sovereign plan, appointed our next president. We may not like him or her. We may have grave reservations about their platform. But we know God reigns. And we know that only the presidents, kings, and dictators God picks come to power. And even more importantly, we know, “that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28).

Regardless what are next president does, it will be good for God’s people. I am not saying that bad economic policies that lead to poverty or rash decisions that lead to world war are a good thing. They most certainly are not. But whatever happens over the next four years, God will be working to grow our faith and his church.
And if we are trusting God, we have no votereason to attack our opponents. Those who voted for Hillary, Trump, or that wonderful third party candidate are not the devil. We do not need to tear down, lambast, or cascate our brothers and sisters in Christ for contributing to an outcome that we disapprove of. If we trust God, we can handle both defeat and victory knowing that God rules and directs heart. Our anger over the vote totals do not reflect a concern, they reflect pride. We thought we knew what outcome is best and we are mad that God did not give it to us. So instead of trusting God, we lash out at our oppoents. Avoid this pitfall. Speak well of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

If we trust God, we will come to 2020 with an even closer relationship with Jesus. Brothers and Sisters, let’s not cry in front of our kids or predict doom because of this year’s election results. Let’s point our hearts and the hearts of our kids to the God who is worthy of our trust. Let’s boast in the fact that God reigns and will one-day return and rule the world.  As Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Do not fret over President Trump or President Hillary. They cannot do lasting harm to our souls. Rather pray for them, asking God to use them in such a way that his church grows (I Timothy 2:2). Trust God!


Ok, now its your turn. What will you tell your kids tomorrow?

Does Your Church’s Birthrate Matter?

birth-rateWe do often talk about birthrates at church. Well at least not in those terms. We discuss delaying conception until after we accomplish some life goal; we discuss how 1 or 2 kids is our ideal family size; and, we discuss why modern society no longer needs a family to have 12 kids. We examine birthrates through the lens of modern convenience and societal success. And as a result, evangelicals increasingly prize smaller and smaller families. At last check, the birthrate for Southern Baptist couples sits at 1.96, appreciably below the replacement birth rate of 2.1.

As Southern Baptists and as Bible believing Christians, we need to start looking at birthrates through the lens of biblical truth. But we need to do more than just talk. We need to act and act soon.

We need to begin advocating for large families. We need to encourage our young couples to have kids. The Bible commands it (Gen. 1:28). The survival of our churches depends upon it.

Why The Birthrate Matters

Let’s say we decide to be cool and start a new church plant called Last Baptist Church with fifty God fearing couples. Theses couples adhere to the Southern Baptist birth rate and have 98 kids. The couples’ kids grow up in great Christians homes where church attendance is a must. They attend Sunday school, Bible Drill, and Disciple Now weekends. They get baptized. Eventually, most of them go off to college. According to George Barna, somewhere between 30%-40% of these kids will stayChurch-retention-rate actively involved in church. We will assume that our Last Baptist church is a really godly church and will go with the higher number, predicting that 40% of the kids stay involved. The next generation is now comprised of 39 people. Thankfully, studies by Steve Parr have shown that about 40% of those church kids who walked away from the faith will decide to come back to church. As time goes on, 24 of the kids who left will return to our church’s pews. The second generation now consists of 63 adults.

These 63 adults get together and start their own families. They have 61 kids. And they grow up, leave and come back. Last Baptist’s third generation now consists of 39 people. In a matter of three generations our Last Baptist Church will see it’s young adult attendance drop from 100 people to 39.  After another generation has passed, the church adult attendance goes down to 24 and then 16.

Population Bubble

Now this does not happen immediately. There is a lot of generational overlap. The initial three generations will all attend church together for some time. The church members will think that Last Baptist Church is relevant, expanding, and reaching people. After all it has gone from a 100 people to an average attendance of 202 people in a period of 30 years. Life is good; the Senior Pastor gets invited to speak at church planting conferences. But then the senior adults begin to pass away and the kids begin to leave. The population bubble bursts. As the second generation moves into the leadership roles, the church’s attendance slowly drops from 202 to 1126. Although the church begins to struggle, the sanctuary is still relatively full. After a few more years pass, the third generation moves into leadership. Now the average attendance is down to 79. And then bottom falls out when the fourth generation takes over. Only 56 people are regularly attending. You have 24 senior adults, 16 adults and 16 kids. The leaders of the church wonder what went wrong? They wonder were all the people went. And though the answer is simple, it is a hard one to swallow. The people were never born.

Last-Baptist-Generation-BreakdownAdmittedly, no church goes through such a simple, straight forward process as Last Baptist Church. People move off, join other churches, and new members come through conversion. There are a whole host of variables at play.

But in many cases, I believe those variables do not favor the church. Some little towns will see large portions of their second and third generations move away. Of those 63 kids, perhaps only 20-30 of them will actually stay in town. Instead of going up, the birth rate will most likely continue to drop with each succeeding generation. All of these factors will serve to expedite Last Baptist’s decline. Instead of taking 60 to 80 years, the decline I’ve described could happen in matter of 15-20 years. I believe that many little, country churches may be dying today because their previous generations did not have kids. Their bubbles have begun to burst.

I know that the birthrate is not the only thing that determines whether or not a church is about to die. Tom Rainer has written several good little books such as I AM A Church Member and the Autopsy of A Deceased Church that tackle many of the heart attitudes and bad theology that undo a church. I highly recommend them to all who want their church to thrive.

But a church’s birthrate must be considered. I believe that the birthrate is a contributing factor to a church’s decline. According to the book Spiritual Champions, almost 64% of all people embrace Christ by 18. Adults are not nearly as receptive as children. Only around 6% of people over age 19 will be open to the gospel. Can we and should we reach out to adults with the gospel? Yes! I have personally seen God radically transform fifty-year-old men and women. Yet a church that does not have kids will miss its best chance to reach one of the largest and most approachable demographics. As a result, the church that is content will a low birthrate is a church that is content with decline. The SBC is already seeing this phenomenon take place. Membership continues to drop despite our best evangelistic efforts. And unless birthrates change, I predict the decline will continue.

If we want our churches to grow, we must encourage our families to grow. Are you ready to do this?