Good news for America

For those who dare accept it, I have positive news. I recognize that media outlets and religious leaders are stoking fear, distrust, and hidden conspiracies. While that is one lens to see the world, there is another perspective I want to suggest. Good things are happening during our lifetime!

  • Diseases are being cured.
  • Life expectancy is increasing.
  • Roe vs. Wade is on the verge of being overturned.
  • Unemployment is at a record low.
  • Religious liberty has been widely upheld in the courts. 
  • The federal government supported churches and religious institutions with the PPP of 2020 and 2021. 
  • Home values are increasing.
  • Mass gatherings are occurring without required masks. 
  • So far, America is not being drawn into foreign wars. 

Now, there are many things I am concerned about – medical ethics, inflation, the value of the dollar, a porous southern border, affordable housing, health care access, the misuse of executive orders, and federal overreach – to name a few. There is much concern, but there are also reasons to give thanks.

The world is falling apart. The world is advancing. 

You can choose either tune to be the soundtrack of your life. Scripture teaches us that sin and evil are present in this world and increasing in many. Yet, Scripture teaches God’s victory over sin, and He is redeeming the world for His purposes through the church.  

Try positivity – you may like it! 

March Madness – Hobby or Worship?

It’s March Madness! It’s the annual NCAA basketball tournament that includes dozens of games over three weeks. I have been following this tournament my entire life, and I enjoy the competition. It has become a family event as an easy way to bond around something with my family. We attended some games in Indianapolis Thursday night and had a great time (despite our team losing!). That’s the good part!

The problem? Sports can quickly become more than a hobby; it is now the other religion. The emotions attached to these games go beyond fun, as it sinks to the core of people’s identity. Interestingly, people have an emotional release at a sports game but exclude emotion from worship. This observation is not new from me or countless others, but, amazingly, this irony keeps repeating with each American generation with greater intensity.

God, help us to use sports, but not let sports use us.

Roe vs Wade ends, the Abortion challenge continues

For those who are anti-abortion, a positive trend in preserving life has developed since 2021. Many states are functionally overriding the Roe vs. Wade decision by legislating drastic abortion obstructions. These state laws make it impossible to get an abortion in such a state. Recent United States Supreme Court decisions have protected these drastic state measures.

As the Supreme Court upholds these laws, Roe vs. Wade becomes ineffective as a federal precedent. The future is this: one could still get an abortion in states like California and New York but could not in states with restrictive laws, like Texas and Louisiana.

So, you probably know something about what I have just written. As I warned on this blog a couple of years ago, the overturn of Roe vs. Wade would not stop abortion in America, and it would only limit it regionally.

So, Christians cannot hide behind Roe vs. Wade as a distant cultural argument. Now, our stand for life is more consequential state by state, community by community, vote by vote, and conversation by conversation.

Beauty on January 6

This January 6, we had a morning snow in middle Tennessee, which brought a blanket of peace and beauty for those safe at home. As I look out the window, it reminds me of the snow globes I used to be mesmerized with as a child – a dream world that seemed pure and enchanting.

What a contrast of the divisive strife coming from our national leaders. When will a leader bring Americans together? Promoting unity is not a way to keep power these days, but it is an ache within us waiting to be soothed. May kinder and cooperative days fall over us like gentle snow, making us more beautiful.

My Perspective on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Many voices have been calling on religious leaders to speak out for the COVID-19 vaccine, so it is time to offer my perspective. I received the Pfizer vaccine early in the year, and I am glad I did. All of my immediate family members have received the COVID-19 vaccination, as well.

You have likely heard statistics about unvaccinated people hospitalized in Tennessee. Stats show that over 90% of hospitalized patients with COVID did not receive the vaccine; approximately 97% of patients on a ventilator did not receive the vaccine. These statistics are staggering in their implications! The data overwhelmingly establishes the widely used vaccines as effective.

Several healthcare workers have told me that these patients are primarily born-again Christians. Oh, how I wish more Christians would accept this opportunity. We are people of life. I see the COVID vaccines as gifts from God to reduce suffering, extend life, and allow more quality time to discover Jesus. Please prayerfully consider receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

Pro-life means anti-abortion

Each year on this Sanctity of Life Day in the United States, I take a public stand against abortion. Why? Forty-eight years after Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal in every state, I feel the passion for preserving the unborn waning in many Christians.

The term “pro-life” has rightfully expanded to include important issues after birth. This broader thinking has been useful in getting people help, but it should not distract from the on-going tragedy of legalized abortion. In conversation with people on this topic, I now clarify that I am “anti-abortion,” so there is no confusion on terminology.

As I wrote last year, Roe vs. Wade’s potential overturn does not solve abortion. We will only save the unborn lives through advocates who are convinced one mind and heart at a time. May more of us recognize the unborn as individuals who deserve “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

A Fellowship of Different Perspectives

* This article was sent as an email to the CIL Church family, but I think the content will benefit al who read it.
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These are tricky, complicated times. While I want you to think critically about the issues of our day, I also want you to remember the power of simplicity.  Jesus calls us to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).  When we do not apply this clear call from our Savior, we may disqualify our intellect and passion for current events. 

You are part of a church where people interpret the times differently.   Sometimes in our community, I feel like I am standing in between the strong opinions of people I respect and love. I bet you have felt that, too.  Often, I agree and disagree with their words in the same conversation!   We will never all have the same opinion, but we can walk in the same love.  

Let’s continue to be a safe place to experience the Scripture, the anointing, the bread and cup, and the love of God’s people.  CIL is a great place to focus on those eternal things.  This simple focus on Jesus is why our series in Galatians has been so timely.  We are directly in God’s Word, letting the passage form us.  This week I will be preaching on Galatians 3:10-14 in a message called “Beyond the Curse.” 

I love being the pastor of CIL!  I am so thankful for this opportunity. 

Responding thoughtfully to coronavirus

If you are interested, let me weigh in on coronavirus. There is a good chance that this threat is overblown – and wouldn’t that be great? However, the mysteries behind the virus have leadership on all levels forced to respond. These actions produce two unhealthy reactions – panic or mocking disregard.

I think our leaders are trying to be responsible. The call for measured behavior changes is appropriate. To nurture the vitality of the economy is also a collective concern. Since no one knows what we are facing, let’s provide each other some latitude. Different individuals and entities will respond differently due to their unique needs.

In my sphere of leadership, I know not everyone will agree with decisions or preventative measures. Still, with God’s help, these decisions are made through love.

CIL Tornado Relief

CILCares

TORNADO RELIEF

There is a widespread path of devastation and need in the greater Nashville/Mount Juliet/Cookeville areas.  Beth and I have spent the past 2 days in communication with area leaders and pastors, assessing how to best direct our resources.

We have identified a great need in several ministries we currently support, as well as some potentially overlooked or lesser known ministries/communities that may not have the exposure or resources that others do.

GIVE:

CIL will receive donations at CIL.Church or by accessing the Church Center app. Select “Give” and then select “Tornado Relief.”  100% of these funds will be dispersed to those directly impacted by the tornados.

https://cil.churchcenter.com/giving/to/tornado-relief

VOLUNTEER:

Our friends at the Donelson Fellowship (3210 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN 37214) are helping the community with food, water, and meeting other practical needs in the Donelson area. They will have relief training at 7:30 am at their church building to prepare for a day of help. Volunteers from CIL are welcome. If you have equipment such as chainsaws, etc., these are needed! This schedule will likely continue indefinitely.

DONATION OPPORTUNITIES:

The Bridge Ministry – our friends who serve the homeless under the Jefferson St. Bridge every Tuesday night – are in need of bottled water, pop-top canned food, tents, sleeping bags, and flashlights/lanterns.

The Laundry Stop – a ministry that washes clothes and bedding for the homeless – is in need of tarps, sleeping bags, and tents.

***You can bring your donated items to CIL on Sunday and we will transport them for you!  If you need to drop them off before Sunday, contact Beth at beth@cil.church.  

Father God,
Your love enfolds the helpless,
the needy, and those who mourn.
Give us strength through Jesus Christ
to be instruments of Your compassion
to those who are overwhelmed and hurting.
Amen.