Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Great Gamble, The Big Sin, and the Huge Cop Out

There is a dance that is performed every day across the Southern Baptist Convention. It is a strange waltz between chance, neglect and hypocrisy.

This dance is performed daily by not a few local church pastors and church planters and their families while church members, sister churches and denominational workers choose to look the other way.

I am writing about and on behalf of the unknown number of local church pastors and church planters who are ministering without adequate health care insurance across our convention. I am always humbled when I think of the dedication of men who will risk their entire family’s financial well being by choosing to minister even when they cannot afford or do not have adequate health insurance provided them by their churches or denomination.

Having encountered four such pastors and church planters in the last few weeks has prompted me to ask some tough moral and ethical questions about this darker side of our denominational life.

1. Is it ever right for a pastor to have to gamble that he and his family will remain healthy for an indefinite period of time? I know they call it “trusting in the Lord” but is it not really taking a very big risk? Does God demand that men take such steps of faith when they may be forced steps caused by the neglect of other parties? Is it ever right for a congregation or a denominational entity to put a man in such a position where he has to choose no healthcare coverage?

2. Is it right for any congregation to simply give a pastor a “Salary Package” and let him decide how to break it down? Does not each local congregation have a moral obligation to take care of their pastor and his family and insist that health insurance be provided? How they work that out is obviously up to each individual church and pastor but is it not responsible churchmanship to at least expect from God’s Church the same benefits we would demand from secular employers?

3. What about sister churches who observe this happening in neighboring congregations? Do they not have a moral obligation to at least take care of “missions” at home before sending contributions to denominational entities that do provide health care insurance for all denominational workers?

4. What role do denominational leaders have in working to ensure that all SBC Pastors and Church Planters be at least minimally covered when it comes to healthcare insurance? Is it morally right to hire a church planter who receives denominational support without providing minimal health care insurance? When a church planter’s children are forced to be on Medicaid or go to Charity Clinics for their health care needs is this a good witness and testimony for the largest non catholic denomination in America?

5. How long can denominational leaders hide behind the “autonomy of the local church” as an excuse for not addressing in a real and meaningful way this problem that exists in the SBC? Is it ethical for SBC leaders to continue to rail against a “Public Health Care Option” when it comes to the current national health care debate while at the same time they are presiding over a “No Care Option” in many flung reaches of the SBC?

6. Why is health care insurance through Guidestone Financial not the most affordable option for all SBC pastors and church planters? Is it ethical for Guidestone to deny healthcare coverage to any SBC pastor and his family? Do we not have a responsibility to “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us?” even in the area of health care insurance?

It seems to me that SBC Pastors and Church Planters are always expected to be “on the team” when it comes to CP promotion and support but we are virtually “on our own” when it comes to health insurance. For most of us that works out fine but for a growing number of SBC Pastors and Church Planters there is a real need that is not even being quantified or addressed in the SBC. We have a growing mission opportunity in our own denomination that we are simply choosing to neglect.

Is it a gamble, a sin or a cop out or all three?

You decide.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Southern Baptist and their own Mini-holocaust?

Live Blog from North Dakota.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am incensed. I remember recently reading how Dr. Richard Land compared the ideology of Obama's Health Care Reform to the same ideology behind the Nazi holocaust. I understand he later issued an apology.

This week I have witnessed firsthand the insensitivity and hypocrisy of Dr. Land's and my own Southern Baptist Convention and how it relates to some of its affiliated churches when it comes to healthcare for pastors and their wives. If what the Obama administration is guilty of is the same as that behind the Nazi holocaust then what should we say about our own SBC and it's unwillingness to address healthcare for pastors and church planters on the NAMB mission fields?

Dr. Land is perfectly free to criticize Obama's Health Care Reform Plan and its misguided objectives but is he not wrong as head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to ignore the plight of many of our own Southern Baptist pastors and their families in far flung areas of our Convention's work?

When he talks about the ethical vacuum in which the Obama administration operates I am inclined to agree with much of what he says but as Head of the SBC Ethics Commission should he also not have a responsibility to bring to light our own unethical treatment of some of our own pastors and their families?

I ask my fellow Southern Baptists - Is it ethical for Southern Baptists to call men as church planters or pastors and not provide health insurance for them and their families?

Is it ethical to pay substandard salaries for these same hardworking pastors while we lavish six figure salaries on our agency heads and many of our denominational leaders?

Is it ethical for Southern Baptists to turn a blind eye to the plight of pastors who are forced to accept food stamps and Medicaid for their families to survive?

I wonder if there is even any sensitivity to this ethical compromise within the hallowed halls of SBC leadership?

Shame on Dr. Richard Land for ignoring such an ethical lapse within our own Convention. But then again maybe if the Obama public option comes to pass the whole ethical issue of not taking care of SBC pastors and their families will become moot. It seems to me that the Ethics Commission should at least be on record as being opposed to our own denomination's negligence.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Your Best Christmas Gift

Jesus Christ, the Son of God It is without a doubt the Best Christmas Gift You or I ever received.

Sent by the Father’s Love from heaven to be our Savior.

One Tree – The Cross of Calvary
One Gift – Jesus, The Savior
One Result – Eternal Life for You and for Me.

I want to tell you a story about how Christmas works.

I KNEW there was a tree because from the time I was born my mom and dad took me to church.

I KNEW about Jesus for I had heard all the stories from the nursery class to the junior class.

I even KNEW that verse John 3:16 – “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…..”

But what I didn’t know was that there was a present under the tree for me.

I saw all the others at various times open their gift.
I saw all the others eagerly enter the Baptismal waters after receiving their gift.
I saw the evidence of the gift in lives all around me.

But I didn’t know and didn’t even care that there was a gift under the tree for me until that fateful night in 1957 when the Angel in charge of the Tree picked up the gift and read my name out loud to my heart.

“James Wheeler Shaver” - “This gift is for you.”

And as the songwriter Charles Wesley put it so well.

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay Fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quick-ning ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth and followed thee.”

I KNEW the Gift was for me.
I KNEW it was all I had been searching for.
I KNEW it held all the answers to all my questions.
I KNEW I had found Salvation.
I KNEW Christ had Died for me.
I KNEW I was Saved.

Now there are some who teach that the gift is generic and lies dormant under the tree until You and I decide IF and WHEN we want it.

But we who have received it know differently.

There was a gift under the tree for each of us and it was personal. It had my name on it and your name on it as though it were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life eons ago.

And the reality of our salvation was not that we stumbled over it, like curious children snooping under the tree; for the Bible itself says that all have gone astray and none seek Him or his righteousness. No, we had NO interest in the tree until our Name was Called.

When He Called My Name
When He Called Your Name
WE Arose, Went Forth And Followed Him.

Hallelujah, What a Gift
Hallelujah, What a Savior

It’s possible to be familiar with Christ and not know Him.
It’s possible to be familiar with the Church and not really Be a part of it.
It’s possible to be familiar with all the Christian Lingo never to have experienced the Real Gift of Christmas in your heart.

Our prayer at Providence Baptist Church this Christmas is that the Tree – the Real Christmas Tree – the Cross of Jesus Christ, might become the Focus of your Attention this Christmas Season.

May He call your Name
May He Present you with Your Best Christmas Gift ever – Eternal Life.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Jerry Vines Doesn't Get It

Buy Your DVD's of the John 3:16 Conference Here.

Excuse me? $69.00

No Thanks - I'll send my $69.00 to the Lottie Moon Foreign Missions Offering and keep on listening to John Piper for free!

Friday, November 07, 2008

John 3:16 Conference at Woodstock

Here's the main problem with this conference.

* There will be no live or archived streaming audio or video of this conference via the Internet.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Words Necessary