I Shocked the Sheriff, But I Did Not Shock the Deputy

Command Staff Meeting

This morning’s agenda. I was #2 on the list.

This morning I was once again honored to offer the “Leadership Charge/Prayer” at the beginning of his weekly Command Staff meeting. It’s just one duty that I perform as a chaplain with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office here in Chattanooga.

If you are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, once a week our Sheriff (Jim Hammond) holds a meeting with his Command Staff (all the captains and chiefs over the different divisions of the department). At each of these meetings one of our chaplains opens up the meeting with a charge/devotion and prayer, then later closes the meeting with prayer. And since the Sheriff is not only an intimidating figure in his own right, but also a student of the Bible, it’s always encouraging when he doesn’t find fault with what we say. LOL!

The Leadership Charge

Since today was the 16th of the month, I decided to see if there was something from the 16th chapter of Proverbs that might be applicable. So, I went to ProverbialThought.com and found the commentary I had written for verse seven.

Proverbs 16:7 became the text, and my post on the verse (click this link to read) became my 5-minute sermonette.

My seat was next to the corner on the left.

There, from my seat at the table, I spoke to the Sheriff, his staff, and his captains of the need to please the Lord, not men. I spoke of God’s commandments and how that when we keep them, even our enemies have a hard time finding fault with us. Then I read a verse from the New Testament:

And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; – Colossians 3:23

“It comes down to a simple choice,” I said. “Do we try to make people happy, or do we try to please the Lord?” If all we care about is pleasing people, we will always fail; they are too finicky. But if our goal is to do everything we do to please God, He will handle the rest – including our Sheriff’s upcoming election.

So, what about “shocking” the Sheriff and not the deputy? Nobody was shocked, not even the Sheriff; I did what was expected of me.

It was a catchy title for a post, though 🙂 Wasn’t it?

 

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Filed under Bible Study, General Observations, ministry, politics

MLK Day: A Few Thoughts On an Old Article

Last year, a liberal, left-wing, professor of African-American history at Rutgers University, Donna Murch, published an article in the Washington Post entitled “Five myths about Martin Luther King.” Ironically, the first “myth” that she addressed in her article was the truth I wanted to discuss this morning.

As I understood it, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a color-blind society.  In his 1963 speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial he famously said:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Now, I’m not a linguist, nor am I an expert in African American history, but it would seem clear to me that not judging someone by the color of his skin equates with “color blind.” However, the good professor at Rutgers who regularly teaches classes on the Black Panthers and mass incarceration said this was not so. Referring to King’s “dream” as myth #1, Dr. Murch wrote:

“Since his death, King has emerged as a triumphalist figure, used to reassure us that the United States has transcended its history of racial strife. Of all the minister’s powerful oratory, [those] words from his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 are some of the most cited … But King knew that the economy wasn’t color-blind, and he believed that the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts would not eliminate racial disparity.”

I’m sorry, Professor Murch, but didn’t Dr. King say, “I have a dream“? Isn’t it possible to hope for something that has not yet come to pass? Just because King may have recognized certain disparities, did it mean he couldn’t dream of a day when those disparities were erased?

Dr. King and I would disagree on some issues, particularly some theological ones (because even though he was a Baptist, not all Baptists agree on topics such as a “social gospel”). However, had I been alive back then, or if Dr. King were alive and here today, we would both find solid common ground where race and character are concerned.

Racism is wrong. Period.

We are ALL made in the image of God,  and we’re loved by Him so much that John 3:16 actually happened.

As a matter of fact, all the people groups of the world, no matter the color, are represented in Scripture, and from each one there will be those who worship Jesus Christ in unity.

And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. – Revelation 5:9 CSB

Beyond that, I have just one more thing to say. It would be nice if the intellectual elites like Dr. Donna Murch, Ph.D., would get the name correct – Martin Luther King was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daddy.

 

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Filed under Christian Unity, current events

A BIG Thank You to YOU!

I almost forgot…which is not unusual at this point in life…but I wanted to thank everyone – ALL of you – for reading my blog[s] last year.

I don’t have a massive amount of followers, but those of you who regularly come back to visit have made this year the most active so far. My prayer is that as this blog continues to grow, visit after visit, the greater the impact it will have on the lives of people around the world.

You are my friends, and I appreciate you very, very much.

Anthony

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A Long 179 Hours (5 Years After the Fact)

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 5 years since I finally finished my Masters in Ministry. The following was first published in January of 2013. On a side note, I also received the seminary’s Theology Award – yay me!

Woo Hoo!

Finally, at the end of this spring semester, I will be graduating seminary with an M.Min. It has been a long time coming, too. As a matter of fact, there are people who were born after I started college who already have doctorates and are practicing medicine!

Nevertheless, even though it is not a Doctorate of Divinity or a Doctorate of Philosophy, it is still an accomplishment. It is an accomplishment that has been brought about by the accumulation of 179 credit hours. If you add to that the hours I completed that were not accredited, I would have close to 225!

How Long?

But what does all that really mean? How long did it take to complete 179 hours? Seven and a half years? Far from it, my friends. Far from it.

The average college student, if he didn’t do anything else, could have completed all of the above hours of courses in 6 years.  Add in the total amount I have taken and an average student could have done it all in 8 years, if not sooner. So, when you stop and look at how long it took me, well, let’s just say I am not average.

Here are a few points to put things in perspective…

  • 1971 Press ReleaseRegGas was less than $1 per gallon. The year after I graduated high school, a friend of mine and I took a 1971 Chrysler Imperial on a road trip from Tennessee to Florida. That car could only get 200 miles to a tank of gas, and we still had money to spend.
  • Cassette Tapes to Clouds. When I first started college I was so excited to get a Pioneer cassette deck for my 67 Mustang. Now, my iPhone can hold more music than I could have afforded to own in the 80’s.
  • Bag Phone to iPhone. The first cell phone I used was bolted to the floor of a truck and had a rotary dial, not buttons. The first cell phone I owned came in a bag with a battery four to five times the size of an iPhone. I couldn’t always afford to talk, but I would hold it up to my ear while driving (it was legal to do that back then), especially in the dark, just to show off.
  • Typewriters and Printers. Most people don’t remember typewriters, but I had to use them in high school. Later, after the advent of personal computers, I was able to snag a Tandy 1000. But do you remember those old printers that used paper that had to be guided on rollers? It would take 10 minutes to print a 10-page paper! Still, it was better than typing.
  • Textbooks to E-books. When I first started college an e-book was unheard of. Now textbooks are offered for iPads, Kindles, and phones. I still prefer something with paper, however.
  • Babies to Baby Makers. I have been going to college for so long that babies born when I started have already graduated college and started families! Those babies are now older than the age of girl I was dating in 1987!

It has been a long 179 hours, that’s for sure. Sorta reminds me of eternity. The big difference is that I’m actually looking forward to eternity 🙂

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Filed under Future, General Observations, Life Lessons, wisdom

Wisdom and Alcohol: A Proverbial Perspective

A Little Background

One of the most controversial topics among some Christians is the subject of beverage alcohol. For some, there is nothing worse than taking a sip, while for others there’s nothing wrong with having a drink with every meal, including breakfast.

I was brought up to believe that drinking any form of alcohol (unless it was in Nyquil cold medicine) was a downright sin, and those who did drink, even rarely and in moderation, were either “backslidden” or probably not true followers of Christ.

Well, a lot of grape juice has flowed under the bridge since then, and my views about alcohol have modified over time. After a considerable amount of study, my understanding of the subject must be discussed within the context of wisdom and grace, not license or law. I simply cannot find a clear, biblical mandate for total abstinence; yet, neither can I find justification for uninhibited consumption.

To put it another way, I’m not going to tell you what to do – it’s between God and you.

“Proverbial” Thinking

The whole reason for bringing up the subject of drinking alcohol is that on my other blog, ProverbialThought.com, the natural rotation of posts has now fallen on Proverbs 31. It is in this chapter that we read not only of the “perfect” woman (we all know there’s not one, of course – except my wife), but also of a mother’s concern for what her royal son should drink.

Therefore, I will ask you to read the following posts for which I am going to provide links. We may not all agree on the topic, but hopefully what I wrote in my commentary on Proverbs will provide some helpful insight.

“The King’s Beverage”: a commentary on Proverbs 31:4-7

 “Give Them Wine”: a commentary on Proverbs 31:6-7

But do remember this: Don’t do anything – drink, abstain, or whatever – without being fully convinced in your own heart. A very important lesson to remember can be found in the Apostle Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome…

Do not tear down God’s work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong to make someone fall by what he eats. It is a good thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. Whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin. – Romans 14:20-23 CSB

I would love to continue this as a discussion in the comment section.

What do you think about the words of Paul? What do you think of my commentaries on Proverbs 31?

Let us know what you think, and why.

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Filed under Alcohol, grace

My Most Popular Post of All Time

Now that we are beginning a new year (2018) I thought I would skip the anual list of “Top Posts” and go straight to the top – the consistent #1 – the most viewed post in 2017 and every year since it was first published (2011):

“Was John R. Rice a Heretic?”

Here’s your chance to read the post that put me on the map…without all the drawn-out, hateful comments 😉


On the 400th anniversary of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, I would like to pose a question to my brothers and sisters who refuse to recognize any other translation: was John R. Rice a heretic? If you do not know to whom I am referring, let me give you a little background information.

Dr. John R. Rice

Dr. Rice, who died in 1980, was one of the most well-known fundamentalist writers and evangelists of the 20th century. He wrote more than 200 books and booklets which were published in many languages and sold all over the world. He condemned the compromise, liberalism, and apostasy being taught at major denominational colleges and seminaries.  He fought for a return to holiness and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. But what I think he will always be remembered for is his founding of the weekly paper, Sword of the Lord.

For the record, I highly respect Dr. Rice. I have in my personal library several of his works published back in the 1960’s. He was a great writer and a great preacher; however, he was not flawless. He said some things back in the day that I have a hard time with. On the other hand, he had some things to say that would shock the average reader of Sword of the Lord and the typical legalist who believes the KJV is the one-and-only perfect, preserved text for the English-speaking world.  Unlike the Sword which continually decries any other translation as dangerous and confusing, Dr. Rice actually recommended the 1901 ASV. OK, would somebody get a glass of water for the fainting KJV-only person on the floor? Dr. John R. Rice, founder and editor of the Sword of the Lord newspaper, actually said that the…

“…American Standard Version, translated in 1901, is perhaps the most accurate of all versions… It takes advantage of the three great manuscripts – the Sinaiticus, the Vatican, and the Alexandrian manuscripts – which were not available when the King James Version was translated.”   from, Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question (Wheaton: Sword of the Lord, 1962), p. 59.

As an overall explanation of his beliefs on the topic of multiple translations, Dr. Rice also stated:

“[There] are many, many translations. The differences in the translations are so minor, so insignificant, that we can be sure not a single doctrine, not a single statement of fact, not a single command or exhortation, has been missed in our translations. And where the Word of God is not perfectly translated in one instance, it is corrected in another translation. And if the Word of God is not perfectly portrayed in one translation, it is portrayed, surely, in the winnowed sum of them all… Have copyists passed on to us any major errors so that in any particular matter we miss the Word of God? There is abundant evidence that they have not. Do the various translations differ materially on any doctrine, any fact of history, any Christian duty, on the plan of salvation, or the Person of Christ, or any comfort or instruction? No, they do not! God has preserved His Scriptures. – from, Our God-Breathed Book, the Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1969), p. 355.

Now, according to many legalists, at least to those who refuse to read or use any other translation of the Bible than the King James 1611, Dr. Rice, who had probably been one of their heroes, is now a liberal. Poor guy! He did so much!

I believe that God inspired His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). I believe He gave it to us in the original autographs. I believe that He has preserved copies of those originals in the examples we have of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts. What I do not believe is that the King James Version was the one-and-only, forever-settled-as-pure-and-inspired translation. It is ONLY a translation. To say that no other English translation is the Word of God is to say that the Geneva Bible, 51 years older than the KJV, was just a book.

The Kings James Version of the Bible changed the world. We should all be grateful for it. I still use it many times when preaching, and especially when memorizing verses. But even though the KJV was and is a blessing of God, His Word is preserved in the ORIGINAL TEXTS. Anything other than the original languages, including the King James Version, is a translation.

Our goal should be to use the best translations of the texts at our disposal when we are preaching and teaching, comparing them with each other and the originals, when possible, so that we can better understand how God’s Word should be understood in today’s language. After all, if you can’t understand it, doing you no good is the least of your worries – doing harm because of a faulty understanding based on a changed vocabulary is far worse. That is where the REAL heresy comes from.

But hey, it doesn’t matter which translation, if you are not reading it and studying it on your own, you might as well be reading Harry Potter and the Temple of Whatever. READ your Bible. STUDY your Bible. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you read and study and then a wonderful thing will happen – you won’t be ashamed in the end (2 Timothy 2:15); you will find light for your path (Psalm 119:105); and you will know how not to sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Even the ASV, ESV, HCSB, or the NIV will tell you that….right, Dr. Rice?

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Filed under baptist, legalism, translations

Are You Glad?

I am!

church glad to go

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Filed under Church, worship