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Posts from May 2013

Using Dial Up Internet

Dial up internet access.

DialupYes, this still exists. I'm trying to do some work on an old Windows XP computer that uses Netscape Connect as the internet provider. It connects via dialup. I can hear that old modem sound of the phone being dialed (of course it starts with *70 to turn off call waiting) and then the static, more static, more, more, more. . .a little more and then a voice that says "Welcome. You Have Mail." Yes, AOL owns Netscape Connect.

I have just stepped back in time.

Now to find a PC that will run this 5.24 inch floppy disk.

 


They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love. . .But Loving Is Not Easy

Jesus said it plainly in Scripture. . .

John 13:35(ESV)
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

The song titled "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love," written in 1968 by then Catholic priest Peter Scholtes has been sung by believers for decades and recorded by such artists as Amy Grant, Jars of Clay and Rebecca St. James.

 

There's no getting around the fact that Christ-followers are to be known more for our love than for what we are against. Ultimately, the love is for God and that love (agape love) is to be shown to others. Jesus even said these are the first and greatest commandments. Yet, and I must admit, I struggle with this. . .it's not easy to love.

Maybe this is due to the fact the culture presses the belief that loving someone or something is akin to affirming or approving?

Parents are to love their children. However, children often do things and say things that do not meet with parental approval. In these cases, especially as it relates to small children, corrective discipline is in order. To the mind of a child, discipline is nothing more than punishment. However, to the parent who loves deeply, discipline IS love.

God models this for us as the Good Father who disciplines His children.

Hebrews 12:5-6(ESV)
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

So, loving someone does not mean to sit idly by and affirm every action. Yet, here's the deeper challenge. As Christ-followers, we must see people not as a conglomeration of their sins or actions, but as a person, created in the image of God. That is who we love.

We do not love sin. Jesus never even hinted at that. Yet, he did command us to love. . .our neighbor as ourselves.

Why is this so difficult? Primarily due to the fallen nature of humanity and the fact that sin is hurtful. Sin hurts God. It's offensive. It's divisive. It's painful and leads to broken relationships.

Broken people are to love broken people. In and of ourselves, it's not possible. True love, agape love (unconditional, permanent and selfless) is not possible through our own devices. In other words, we don't have the DNA required to do this. . .apart from God.

As a Christ-f0llower, God gives us his spiritual DNA that enables us to love as He loves.

Human nature (i.e. the sin nature) continues to push against it, so it remains a life-long challenge.

Love as God loves. It is a holy love. However, we often degrade it to a "holier than thou" version. That's not true agape love.

"Love the sinner. Hate the sin." - we've all heard it. It's a cliché. Take a moment to read this description of what this means from www.gotquestions.org.

  Many Christians use the cliché “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” However, we must realize that this is an exhortation to us as imperfect human beings. The difference between us and God in regard to loving and hating is vast. Even as Christians, we remain imperfect in our humanity and cannot love perfectly, nor can we hate perfectly (in other words, without malice). But God can do both of these perfectly, because He is God. God can hate without any sinful intent. Therefore, He can hate the sin and the sinner in a perfectly holy way and still be willing to lovingly forgive at the moment of that sinner's repentance and faith (Malachi 1:3; Revelation 2:6; 2 Peter 3:9).

LoveneverThe Bible clearly teaches that God is love. First John 4:8-9 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” Mysterious but true is the fact that God can perfectly love and hate a person at the same time. This means He can love him as someone He created and can redeem, as well as hate him for his unbelief and sinful lifestyle. We, as imperfect human beings, cannot do this; thus, we must remind ourselves to “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

How exactly does that work? We hate sin by refusing to take part in it and by condemning it when we see it. Sin is to be hated, not excused or taken lightly. We love sinners by being faithful in witnessing to them of the forgiveness that is available through Jesus Christ. A true act of love is treating someone with respect and kindness even though he/she knows you do not approve of his lifestyle and/or choices. It is not loving to allow a person to remain stuck in sin. It is not hateful to tell a person he/she is in sin. In fact, the exact opposites are true. We love the sinner by speaking the truth in love. We hate the sin by refusing to condone, ignore, or excuse it.

It's a challenge. It's not easy, but it is our command. "Love one another." Remember, to love others is not an affirmation of sin, but an affirmation of God's image.

The Greatest Sin is the Sin of Agreement

052613_1045_Keep Calm 26

Points from Sunday's message:

  • We are at war.
  • Spiritual-warfare"One soldier never wins a war. It takes a whole army. Jesus' church is at war with Satan, and we cannot fight alone." - Mark Driscoll
  • We often forget that the cross and resurrection were strategic plays in a spirital battle.
  • The cross, grave and resurrection are a strategy well played and essential for us.
  • We live in the "in between." (Between the ascension and the coming of Christ at the end of the age.)
  • We cannot let our guard down.
  • The Enemy prowls like a hungry lion, seeking someone (you) to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
  • The sin of agreement is perhaps the most subtle and deadly.
  • The destiny of Christ-followers is bound in the destiny of Christ.
  • There are many who claim to know God. They affirm this by quoting Scripture, having verses tattooed on their bodies, putting Christian music on their iPod or attending church at times, but . . . they don't know Him.
  • It's not being judgmental. It's just being a fruit inspector (Matthew 7:16-20).
  • We need a spiritual Memorial Day, every day.
  • Life is a spiritual odyssey.
  • Choose your traveling companions wisely.
  • Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 6:14)
  • Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  • God still has the whole world in His hands.

_____________

Image is of the painting "Spiritual Warfare" by Ron DiCianni. Purchase a print here.


REAL Manhood: Harry S. Truman

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6(ESV)

The President of the United States is called the “Leader of the Free World.” The influence of the President globally is great. The responsibility is even greater.

HarrystrumanHarry S. Truman became President upon the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He inherited a great task as the United States was embroiled in the Second World War.

Truman rose from humble beginnings in rural Missouri. Throughout his life, he was known as a man who endeavored to conduct himself with integrity and to always do right by others. As a young man, in a home that worshipped God regularly at the local Baptist church and believed in the sovereignty of God and the power of prayer, Harry was taught a prayer that became invaluable for him throughout his days.

This excerpt comes from Truman’s own diary, dated August 15, 1950, a day which the President happened to meet with General Omar Bradley, the mayor of New York City, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, his Cabinet, a Senator, a Representative, another general, and some person friends.

The prayer on this page has been said by me (Harry S. Truman) from high school days, as a window washer, bottle duster, floor scrubber in an Independence, Missouri drugstore, a timekeeper on a railroad contract gang, as an employee of a newspaper, as a bank clerk, as a farmer riding a gang plow behind four horses and mules, as a fraternity official learning to say nothing at all if good could not be said of a man, as a public official judging the weaknesses and shortcomings of constituents, and as President of the United States of America.

Oh! Almighty and Everlasting God, Creator of Heaven, Earth, and the Universe: Help me to be, to think, to act what is right, because it is right; make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things; make intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought of reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving and patient with my fellowmen – help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings – even as Thou understandest mine!

Amen, Amen, Amen.[i]



[i] Bennett, William J. The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2011. 446-47. Print.


REAL Manhood: Be Strong and Courageous

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:6-9 (ESV)

A real man is one who leads courageously. Joshua was such a man. In the biblical narrative, we see God calling Moses through a burning bush to go back to Egypt, confront Pharaoh and lead the Israelite slaves out of bondage and to freedom. This calling required courage and Moses displayed this. Then, forty years later as the children of Israel were finally getting to the place where they could enter into the Promised Land, the leader Moses died.

Upon Moses’ death, Joshua was called by God to lead the people into the land. This was not going to be a walk in the park. There were giants in the land, as was reported years earlier. Yet, it was the land of promise. Therefore, God would go before the people.

Joshua_mosesGod’s design was to call out a man, a real man, to lead the people. In the passage above, God says “Be strong and courageous” a number of times to Joshua. This exposes the reality that turning back and running from the danger was definitely an option.

It takes courage to be a real man. Joshua would need courage to lead the people, to keep the rule of law, to live right and be obedient. The life of godly man is not one of weakness and timidity.

However, the courage and boldness required to lead does not come from within the individual. As a Christ-follower, the real man recognizes that this boldness and courage only comes from God Himself.  The most courageous of men are those who first surrender to Christ and follow His lead.

Be strong and courageous. You can. Trust God to help you be this type of man.

 


Is Vacation Bible School Still Effective?

Simple answer: NO - when it's just an event. YES - when it's a strategic tool for Kingdom growth.

Every year we look to the summer calendar and begin filling it with events an activities for individuals and families. As the school year grows and the "summer" shrinks, the available weeks for special activities become harder and harder to find.

2013_vbs_VBS13_4c_logoAs with any established church, there are expected events that hit every season of the year. Sometimes, the "prayerful" calendaring of the next year is little more than placing the expected events on the calendar once again. Yeah, I admit, sometimes it happens - we just put things on the calendar. That is why we are facing a serious and strategic moment of evaluation for all ministries and events. Is it truly the role of the church to provide events to keep church members and attenders busy? Just because "we've always done something" doesn't mean we need to continue doing it.

Now, before you open your email and begin writing me an angry message about cancelling Vacation Bible School or your other "favorite" event, read the rest of this post.

I'm NOT proposing we cancel Vacation Bible School (or VBS or Summer Jam or whatever you want to call it.)

I am just asking the question that must be asked for every calendared event, whether it be a senior adult trip to New Orleans, a youth camp, a men's retreat, a trip to the local skating rink or ball game or Disney on Ice. . .or whatever. The questions must be asked or we (the church) will be nothing more than travel agents and event planners for church attenders. It seems that at times the church actually adds to the consumerism among members while preaching against it.

Somehow, I don't think God desires that we spend time, energy, finances and resources on things that do nothing to expand the Kingdom of God.

The things listed above can all expand the Kingdom, if they are strategic and intentional. Otherwise, they become events on a calendar to help us feel good about ourselves, or at best to "keep us busy" which would be best left to the local YMCA or other clubs.

So, let's get back to the question at hand - "Is Vacation Bible School (VBS) Still Effective?"

I have been in church my entire life. I have participated in, worked in, taught in and led Vacation Bible Schools. These week-long morning "day camps" for children held at the church campus are designed to teach children the truths of the Word of God. The week includes activities, games, snacks, music, and evangelistic teaching.

We know that children attend local Vacation Bible School weeks at numerous churches throughout the summer. Some just hop from one VBS to the next. I have no problem with that, as long as when they land at ours, they receive the very best experience and a clear teaching of the message of the Gospel.

Yet, is this the most effective way to connect with children and families in our culture?

In my opinion, it is still a very effective week, especially where our church is located. However, as is often the case, we (the church) tend to shift the week of VBS into the "children's ministry" area of church and leave it to the Children's Pastor, VBS Director and volunteer leaders to "pull off" the event.

That, my friends, is when Vacation Bible School becomes uneffective.

When VBS is just another children's event, it becomes a waste of time, resources, and effort.

VBS, in our community, still has the potential of reaching numerous "unchurched" and "pre-Christian" children and families. However, just like in athletics, "potential" is useless unless met.

Each year, LifeWay tracks VBS statistics. VBS has been touted for years as the "most effective evangelism strategy in the Southern Baptist Convention." Millions are enrolled each year and tens of thousands profess Christ as Savior each year.

Each year the "ABCs" of salvation are presented to children. However, it should be noted that the ABC (Admit, Believe and Confess) is NOT the Gospel, but simply a response to the Gospel. This is vital. Otherwise, we are teaching children to "repeat after me" a prayer. Check out this post on Jared's Blog titled "The ABCs of VBS: Is It Biblical?"

Our desire is to see God work through VBS so that lives may be transformed. We will share how to know Christ. We will walk through this process with children. We will teach those who are Christ followers how to live as disciples. Yes, even as children, they can and should learn this. Follow-up is essential as well.

Our Vacation Bible School is scheduled for June 17-21. Volunteers are working to prepare for the week. The theme this year is "Colossal Coaster World" and even though the themes are always fun, we must remember that. . .God doesn't really care about the theme or the decorations. He cares about the hearts and souls of people and He has strategically placed us here with the mandate to be the light of the world.

May we recognize the value of this week as a church. May we expand the Kingdom of God through all we do as Christ-followers.


God Interrupted Our Worship Service

051213_1045_Keep Calm 25

It was incredible. A moment I have prayed about for years. Not a disruption, really, but an acknowledgement that when we say we are here for Him, and mean it, God moves greatly.

Yesterday's message was one of pointed realization. As Paul reminded the church in 1 Corinthians 15, so too did God remind us yesterday that as followers of Christ, we often forget that which we used to be. We have forgotten the rescue and thereby live our lives as if God's love and grace and mercy is deserved.

Paul speaks clearly here in the chapter, reminding the ancient Corinthians, as well as believers for centuries, that Christ died, was buried, rose again, appeared to many and called out the church, all in accordance with the Scriptures.

This was God's plan.

RescueAbout five minutes into the sermon yesterday, I stated that there were two groups of people in the building. One group had taken a small step of curious faith by attending, but have never stepped into the Story God has for them. In other words, they are still lost, separated from God because of their lack of surrender to Him.

I felt led to address this and describe how the Enemy would do everything he could to keep them from taking that step. Then (to be honest - I don't believe I really expected an answer) I said, "Is there anyone here ready to step into this Story and surrender to Christ?"

I looked up to the balcony and a young man named Chris stood up.

It took just a moment for me to realize he wasn't getting up to go to the restroom. He was responding to the call. I asked "Are you ready?" He replied "Yes!"

I encouraged him to come down right then and he did. The congregation sat in awe-filled silence. I saw many whose eyes were open widely, just as wide as their mouths as their jaws dropped. It was apparent - many members of this church had never experienced anything quite like this. God was in the room and He was moving.

Chris came down. I prayed with him as hundreds watched. I introduced him to Marshall Walker, one of our deacons and Marshall and he went to our counseling area for prayer and affirmation.

I looked to the congregation and said, "Most of you didn't know someone could respond to an invitation to come to Christ unless it was at the end of the service and soft piano music was being played." There was a chuckle, partnered with the realization that the statement was true.

God interruped our service yesterday.

Well, maybe more accurately, we actually decided to follow His lead yesterday. He had an order of worship already planned. It was good. It was right. It was holy.

The message continued to the church members and those who have previously come to Christ. The reality was clear - many of us have forgotten about the Gospel. We have forgotten about our rescue. It's evident in the silence we have when engaging others in our family, workplace, neighborhood and community that we have forgotten. How is this so? There's no logical reason for keeping the rescue plan (God's plan for our salvation through Christ's death, burial and resurrection) to ourselves.

We have spiritual dementia.

The sad reality is that a side effect of this spiritual dementia is our apparent lack of love for others who are still enslaved. Are we basically saying "Just go to hell?

May we remember.

It's that important.

May we share.

It's that vital.

Rescue is available. We don't have to remain enslaved.

Yesterday, Chris was rescued. We were invited to see it happen.

 


REAL Manhood: Don't Let Anyone Despise You Because of Your Youth

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12(ESV)

Carson Andrew is a ten year old boy living in Aynor, South Carolina. During the summer he is not sleeping late, watching TV, playing video games or playing all day in the pool like some of his friends. Rather, he is manning a sharp looking lemonade stand on a busy corner of Aynor near a popular grocery store.  He is selling ice-cold pink lemonade.

CarsonHe sells pink because that was his cousin, Mary-Kate’s, favorite color.

He sells lemonade because he is trying to raise as much money as possible for the American Heart Association.

Carson’s cousin, Mary-Kate, died a few years earlier at the age of six from heart disease.

“We went to the pool, we went a lot of places,” said Carson. When she died, he made a vow to his mother to raise as much money as possible to help get the word out about heart disease and about how many children die from it each year. Heart disease is the second-biggest killer of children in the United States, behind accidents.

Many elementary school students across the nation ask family for donations during the first couple of months of school for the American Heart Association’s “Jump Rope For Heart” event. For the past two years Carson has raised more money than anyone in his state, and in 2011, he raised more money – over $10,000 – than any one individual in the nation.

“It feels really good,” he said. “The most important thing is that I’m helping people.”[i]

The money raised creates awareness and hopefully, can help fund research for treatment for heart disease. Carson may never know in this life how many he has impacted and helped.

Most people rely on large corporations or adults to lead the way regarding issues such as this. Carson stepped into the story of real manhood, even at age ten, by deciding not to sit idly by and let others do the work. With his creativity and his heart for the cause, Carson has led others to step up.

There are physical needs, such as heart disease, that affect many. There are spiritual needs, you may call it spiritual heart disease, that affects every human being. Real men understand the value of leading out. Many will convince themselves that the role of helping, praying, speaking spiritual truth into the lives of others is simple someone else’s job. The real man realizes that it is his responsibility.  There’s no place for sitting on the sideline in God’s story.



[i] Ray, Rusty. "Aynor Boy Leads the Way in Support, Awareness of Heart Disease." WBTW. N.p., 28 June 2012. Web. 26 Oct. 2012. <http://www2.wbtw.com/news/2012/jun/28/aynor-boy-leads-way-supportawareness-heart-disease-ar-4055647/>.


Generous Gifting to Church Planters & Ministries - Spring 2013

God has truly been working through His people at First Baptist Church. Over the past few years, He has led us to strategically focus on three primary Kingdom expanding emphases: Church Planting, Orphan Care and Global Missions.

As you may know, for the past two years, God has allowed us to model proper stewardship for members of the church by how we handle the financial gifts He has provided. We desire to model good stewardship through the tithe (yes, we know the local church is not instructed to "tithe" but we choose to model this by giving a tenth - actually more than a tenth - of every dollar to Cooperative Program Missions,) debt reduction, repair and upkeep of property, savings and generous giving.

Every six months (in October and in May) we evaluate our giving and spending. For the past couple of years, our giving has exceeded spending. Money in the "overage" has been distributed in three specific areas. One-third goes to debt retirement/facility upkeep, one-third to savings in an "Emergency Fund" (in case a hurricane or other real emergency were to hit) and one-third is given to Gospel-centric ministries focused on expanding God's kingdom.

Our giving generously has been to ministries in the three areas of focus: church planting, orphan care and global missions.

This week we are pleased to share that we have been able to put money into a fund for debt retirement/upkeep with the focus on repairs in the Student Center, Worship Center and yes, painting the steeple. We have been able to place funds in our emergency fund, working toward a total of $300,000 in this fund and are able to generously give $18,000 away to ministries expanding God's Kingdom.

We are able to bless three church planters and one ministry focused on compassionate care to those in great need with gifts at this time.

MIKE HAUSER - Church Planter/Pastor of Starting Point Church in Burlington, Ontario

Mike HauserFirst Baptist Church is strategically partnered with Starting Point for the next three years. This church plant launched earlier this year. I will be leading a group of pastors from Jacksonville to Ontario this September and while there will meet with Mike and others. We have already tentatively planned a student ministry mission trip over next Spring Break to this area to work with Mike. Mike is a former youth pastor in Toronto and followed God's lead to plant Starting Point.

 

Fire it Up from Starting Point Church on Vimeo.

CALEB CRIDER - Church Planter/Missionary in Portland, Oregon

 

Caleb CriderWe have known Caleb for a couple of years and our most recent mission team to Portland met with him and numerous other church planters in the city. Caleb is serving in a hard-to-impact area of Portland, but is seeing breakthrough. This city is #11 on the most "post-Christian" cities in America. Caleb's understanding of missional living is inspiring. He is co-author of the book Tradecraft which we require our mission teams to read and work through before launching out. He is an active leader of the Portland Church Planting Network. First Baptist Church is committed to working alongside Caleb for the next three years as a partner in planting.

 

CHASE DELPERDANG - Church Planter/Pastor of Legacy Church in Tucson, Arizona

Chase DelperdangWe have partnered with Chase for almost three years. His leadership at Legacy Church has led to many God-stories. He and his wife, Jennie, have an expanding family and as with all our church planters, there are financial needs that seemingly come from nowhere. Our continued partnership with Chase enables us to have an impact in another of our nation's most "post-Christian" cities.

 

This Is Tucson & We Are Legacy - The Launch Network from Legacy Community Church on Vimeo.

MERCY SUPPORT SERVICES - Rescue Ministry in Clay County

Mercy Support ServicesThis ministry is local, but we must remember "global missions" begins right outside our front door. This ministry is focused on helping those in need who cannot seem to get a break. Through this network, churches and organizations throughout our community are able to minister to and help those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Some may never understand the value in giving generously to such ministries. Yet, we know this is God's desire, not just for the church, but for each Christ-follower.

We are truly blessed and understand that God blesses us so that we may be a blessing. May His Kingdom increase in Ontario, Portland, Tucson, Orange Park and throughout the world. May we remain faithful to His calling.


What the Boy Scout Vote in May Means for Our Troop

It has been widely reported in the media, though in my opinion strongly skewed by most media outlets. It is the story that has moved to the back burner, but soon will be front page headlines once again. On May 22, the national meeting of Boy Scout leaders will be presented with a proposal to change the long accepted membership and participation requirements for local chartered troops.

The policy currently reads that the Boy Scouts do "not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers or members, but does not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the Boy Scouts of America."

The National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America has proposed a new resolution, which includes the statement that "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

Bsa statueWhile the majority of parents and Scout leaders nationally have voiced opposition to this change in the policy, it appears very likely that the new policy will be adopted. The three largest "faith-based" groups that charter BSA troops are the Mormon Church, Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Churches. Unfortunately, the Mormon Church has stated their approval of the proposed "compromise" that allows gay boys, but still bars gay leaders. There has been no word from the Catholic Church as far as I know. Southern Baptist Churches, with our autonomy, will most likely have some who oppose and others who affirm the compromise.

As stated in a previous blog entry, our church strongly opposes the proposal.

I met with a great group of Scout leaders this evening. It was a difficult, but needed meeting. These volunteers serve our boys and Scouts and have done so for years. Boy Scout Troop 20 has been chartered by First Baptist Church of Orange Park for 35 years. Cub Scout Pack 20 has been here for 13. We have experienced a wonderful relationship with the Scouts for years. Numerous Eagle Scouts have emerged from our Troop. Many church members have participated as well. That being said, I want it to be clear that we love Scouting and have wholeheartedly enjoyed our partnership for years.

However, this resolution leads us to some difficult choices.

The bottom line is that if BSA approves the proposed policy change, based on our understanding of the Scriptures and the Truth of God's Word, we will no longer be able to charter Pack 20 and Troop 20 at First Baptist Church.

I met with our Deacon body last night and this issue was discussed at length. The affirmation by this body was clear - we cannot continue as a charter organization if the policy moves forward.

I echo what some Scout leaders have told me personally "We feel like we've been kicked in the gut." I have yet to find a vocal Scout leader or parent in our group that approves of the change. These families placed their boys in Scouting based on the history, heritage and purpose of Boy Scouts. Now, it appears everything is being changed. Scouting may never be the same, regardless what happens at the national vote.

Troop 20s leadership is appalled at the potential policy change. The North Florida Council (BSA) is opposed to it as well, from what I hear. Word is that regardless the vote later this month, there will be local charter organizations (mostly churches of different flavors and faiths) who will discontinue their relationship with BSA. 

I fully understand that many will see this move of discontinuing our charter as nothing more than another "Baptist church hating on gays." While there are some groups that wear the name "Baptist" and do little more than shout all that they are against in the world, this is not the case. This is not about discrimination or being hateful. 

I have stated from the pulpit numerous times that we are a church for all people. That means all are welcome to come. That means we are open to LGBT people attending our church. However, welcoming those seeking Truth, regardless of lifestyle choice does not mean we affirm the LGBT lifestyle or any other lifestyle opposed to the nature of God. Why? Because we believe the Word of God and the pointed verses speaking of the lifestyle. Now, I understand there are those who view the Scriptures differently and would love to debate the veracity of these verses. Nevertheless, we are a body of believers who see the Word of God as infallible, immutable and inerrant. The Gospel is God's love letter to us and His desire is that all of us be rescued from our lives of sin and despair. Yes, we believe openly gay lifestyles are sinful, but no more sinful than any other lifestyle choice that is opposed to God and His Word. That is why we all need a Savior. Therefore, we do not affirm anyone's openly sinful lifestyle. Yet, we love them (you) any way. At least that is our desire.

You may not agree with us on this. You have that right. I wouldn't begin to assert you do not.

However, for our church to continue to charter Troop and Pack 20 with a national BSA policy in place that clearly opposes our biblical mores, would be hypocritical at best.

Some questions about how this fits with a missional theology have arisen. These are questions I have had to wrestle with as well. We own a building (well, almost - the bank owns most of it still.) We have been placed in a community strategically by God to impact it for the sake of the Gospel. We open our facilities for numerous groups at times. Whether a local school band, sixth grade graduation, baccalaureate services, sports team practices, narcotic recovery groups, community gatherings,  music lessons, etc. we still see the use of our facilities as nothing more than a stewardship of God's facilities for the sake of reaching our local world for Christ.

What's the difference in just handing the keys to the rooms to our Troop/Pack and letting them continue? The difference here is that, in a very real sense, we "own" these groups. The name of our church is printed on every Boy Scout's neckerchief. T-shirts for Pack 20 have "First Baptist Church of Orange Park" emblazoned on them. We have been proud to allow and have even encouraged this. Yet, if the policy (which in our view is opposed to biblical teaching) is adopted, we cannot allow this. Oh, and even if the groups remove our name, we would still be the charter organization, so this is deeper than a name silk screened or embroidered on an item of clothing. 

An initial option proposed by the national board as they attempted to push through an agenda affirming openly gay lifestyles,  was to allow the local charter organization the right to choose to allow or disallow openly gay boys and leaders in the Troops. Had that option been moved forward, it would have done nothing but set us up, as well as other charter groups who oppose admitting gay participants, for a lawsuit. There is no doubt in my mind that groups such as the ACLU would be bringing numerous churches to court over the issue. This would be nothing more than a distraction and even if the suit were won, a loss of funding for the mission of God.

That proposal was shelved by the Board after much opposition was experienced.

This new proposal supersedes this and eliminates the option for local Troops/Packs and charter organizations to disallow openly gay boys. It does state that openly gay Scout leaders are prohibited, which, to me and even to gay rights activists seems ridiculous. In other words, it's OK for a boy to be gay up to age 18 and then not.

If this proposal is approved, it is widely known that it is nothing more than a first step. Openly gay scout leaders will be next on the agenda. I would not doubt if, down the line, a situation much like the Girl Scouts were facing a couple of years ago would be next. Boy Scouts would eventually be positioned to allow transgendered participants. 

As one mother stated in tonight's meeting, "It's a slippery slope."

The most frustrating thing about the entire issue is that it pulls Scout leaders, charter groups and Scout parents away from that which Scouting is all about. The meeting tonight should never have had to happen. The BSA is creating a problem and the collateral damage will be the boys, regardless the outcome later this month. I feel the greatest empathy for those close to earning their Eagle Scout.

While I truly hate this, I must stand on the Word of God. In fact, we, the church must stand on the Word of God. If the BSA approves the proposed change on May 22, it ultimately means that Boy Scouts of America has nullified the agreement with First Baptist Church of Orange Park. Sadly, that means that come August 2013, Troop 20 and Pack 20 will no longer be meeting at our church, nor proudly wearing our name. In other words, we are NOT kicking the Scouts out. The BSA has chosen to enact a policy that eliminates our ability to partner with them. So, we wait.

But. . .

The vote hasn't happened, yet. 

Join me in praying for the national leaders of BSA as well as our local Troop, Pack, leaders, parents and boys. My prayer is that come May 23, we will breathe a sigh of relief and continue on in our healthy relationship as charter organization and Scout troop. Regardless what happens, pray for the boys and their families. 

Will Boy Scouts of America die over this? I doubt it, but it will be harmed greatly and may never recover fully.

We, however, must stand firm on God's Word. That is not up for a vote.