Prayers for those Impacted by Weather

Well, this is an unusual week for those impacted by the weather. It is a reminder we are mortal, and our plans have to yield to nature. My heart goes out to all the Texans and others around the country who have struggled this week. Tennessee has experienced challenges, but most of us have energy for our homes.

Each power outage, busted pipe, and stranded car is an emotional gut-punch for the affected person. I am so sorry for those of you going through disruptions. May God strengthen those who suffer, and may better days come.

Spring is before us.

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.
__________

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. 

Response to Capitol Attack

As someone who profoundly loves The United States and is a student of our history, watching the capitol overrun on January 6 by unruly citizens was extraordinarily upsetting. I was very emotional, so I waited to post until I was more composed.

This occurrence demonstrated that personal character and choice of words in leadership does matter. We watched a slow-motion moral decay throughout that day, and it is symbolic of our collective poverty of character.

Despite this day of infamy, I still believe there is more good than bad in our country. If we seek the way of love and cooperation, we can have a society that reflects goodness like a “city on a hill.”

December 7 Reminds Us of Adversity to Overcome

December 7 is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, an attack upon our sailors that stirred the soul of America. As many observed, it woke a sleeping giant.

On December 7, 2020, we face a different enemy, as the coronavirus is stretching our healthcare system and economic vitality. I pray tonight, the best of America will come forward through our love and service to humanity. With God’s help, our nation can overcome this virus, save lives, innovate, cooperate, and become a greater society through this adversity. May God continue to raise leaders and heroes.

Perspective on the 2020 election from Todd Hunter

Todd Hunter is a respected and proven voice in the American church. I have met Todd, and we have some mutual friends. Be blessed by his carefully written call to a Christian perspective during our current political crisis.
__________________________________

Dear Friends,

We voted separately—in little, individual booths. This is one of the great political gifts of a democratic republic. Without fear of reprisal, with no one looking over our shoulder, we get to speak our mind regarding who we wish to lead us.

This was a stress-filled election cycle, and we’re experiencing additional anxiety as we wait for the election results. In the days to come, we must learn to live together. This is true if your candidate appears to be winning or losing. It is true if the election results bring you relief and joy, or anxiety and depression. 
 
This morning, the path to unity is not obvious. Many Americans, fearing our fractures are too deep, no longer believe it is possible for us to jell or mesh together. That same scenario is now, sorrowfully, playing out in the Church. If the terms for unity are set by the leaders and maneuverings of political parties, there is little hope. 
 
But we have another place to look for optimism, for a rationale and practices for the human flourishing implicit in social unity. That place is in the person of Jesus and the kingdom movement he fomented. 

Jesus said of himself: I am gentle and humble in heart (Mt. 11:29).

Paul picks up on Christlikeness as the way of being for his followers: In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Phil. 2:3,4).  

Jesus further said: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27,28). 

Paul says of himself: I am not seeking my own good but the good of many…(1 Cor. 10:33).

James encourages us to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord (James 4:10).

Peter urges us to be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5).

These bits of scripture represent the relational vision and social ethic of the New Testament. It is rarely attempted. But we, participants in the Jesus-movement, are called to live into it. There are opportunities to do so every day in our families, churches and communities. 
 
Let’s start today, regardless of continued election uncertainty. Maybe our modest obedience can create a snowball effect that catches up into it all the people and events of our lives. May we live our lives for the sake of others, and especially for the most vulnerable—those whose agency wanes or is challenged, and who therefore need someone to labor, humbly and selflessly, for their good. 

Grace and peace,



Bishop Todd Hunter

Remembering Don George and Lynn Hancock

On Thursday, I went to Dallas for Pastor J. Don George‘s funeral. It was a hard but beautiful day. I saw old friends, many that I did not even have the chance for a conversation. I am blessed to be part of the company of pastors who descend from Pastor George’s ministry.

This picture is a treasure to me. Pastor George and Jaroy Carpenter are anointing me with oil before a mission trip in 1990. Behind us is Calvary’s long-time worship leader Lynn Hancock, extending his hand in prayer towards us. Lynn also passed away just a few weeks ago. He was such a good friend to my family and me in my formative years. I learned how to worship in Lynn’s ministry.

I am sad Pastor George and Lynn Hancock have passed away, but I know I will see them again.

Put your hope in God

There is a lot of opportunity to panic and despair with the renewed public awareness of COVID-19, but I encourage us all to put our hope in God.

Choose to hope in Him.
He will not abandon those who trust in Him.

We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone. – Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT)