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Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday

In 1920, British troops fired into the crowd at a football match in Dublin in retaliation for the killing of British undercover agents. It was during the Irish War of Independence, and 32 people lost their lives that day. That tragic event would later be referred to as “Bloody Sunday.” Unfortunately that was not the last atrocity to adopt that title. It should sadden us all that such events happen many times within our lifetime.

Once again, we have another bloody Sunday. This last Sunday for reasons we may never fully know, a man fired a massive amount of shots into a crowd in Las Vegas. As soon as the news broke, the world spins its gears, looking for someone or something to blame.

We want a simple and easy explanation for this kind of violence. If the cause is simple then we believe the solution is just as simple. Some will blame guns, others politics, others race, and the debates on social media will continue to stir the fire with each side certain of their moral superiority.

The news feels less informative these days and more like an ideological recruitment center. Whatever opinion you may have, there is a media outlet willing to cater to you.

So what do Christians do in moments like these? As the world succumbs to panic and political positioning, how do we respond? Do we spend countless hours making arguments on the NFL and the national anthem, gun control or some other future event that will further polarize humanity? Or is there a more Christ-like way to respond?

I wish I had some really sage advice, but I have been trying to figure out how to balance this in my own life as well. Personally, I have always enjoyed debating, and I tend to have really strong opinions on just about everything. It took me awhile, but I finally learned that Facebook or any other means of social media is a terrible place for debating opinions.

Whenever I feel the desire to join in on the collective outrage, I just stop and walk away. I have made it a point to spend much more time reading books than reading my Facebook feed. This has been really helpful because books are not just knee-jerk reactions like we find online, they required the author to pause and think about what they wanted to say.

Spending less time immersed in the drama of the world has helped me focus on what really matters. One thing that I am certain of is that the Gospel is the only solution to the issues that really plague us. Our problems are not just political, racial or financial, our problem is our humanity. Even though we are human we are also much more.

Paul reminds the church in Corinth of this when he tells them, “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Cor. 3:3). He sees humanity as the issue, while also recognizing that they are more than just humans; they are created in the image of God.

Since the Gospel is the only real solution, I try to tell it and live it as much as possible. Telling others about my view on gun control won’t get them into heaven. That doesn’t mean these social issues are not important, but let us always look at them through the lens of the Gospel.

I want to encourage you, as the media fury ramps up once again, realize that God has a solution, and He has charged you with spreading the cure to others. We do not live our lives based upon fear or hatred, these things may bring in the ratings, but they do not produce the peace and rest our souls need.

So how do we respond in these situations? The Bible is clear. We love our neighbors and our enemies because Christ first loved us. May God grant us peace within our hearts, so we can build peace with our words and hands.

The Curious Case of Eugene Peterson

The Curious Case of Eugene Peterson

A man in his mid-80s has retired from the pastorate in the upper northwest part of the United States. He’s lived a quiet life, he would tell you, preferring the quiet solitude of his lakeside home to the hustle and bustle of today’s social landscape.

He’s never been on the radio. He doesn’t headline conferences as a plenary speaker. In fact, aside from his introspective and imaginative writings on God, the Bible and other spiritual topics, Eugene Peterson likely never would have entered the public view.

It’s also not entirely uncommon for Peterson’s lake house to be visited by the likes of U2’s Bono. His translation of the Greek and Hebrew texts into modern day vernacular (delivered in The Message) graces countless bookshelves. His books are endorsed by such high-profile evangelical voices as Russell Moore and J.I. Packer.

Despite his influence, and aside from the pastoral narrative of his books, not much is known about Peterson. This is by design. He is a quiet man, a humble man, a man unattached.

// Merritt’s track record on the SSM issue

Jonathan Merritt is a controversial reporter with a large platform. Having grown out of orthodoxy, Merritt is a blogger, speaker and writer who has recently taken aim at virtually every aspect of orthodox Christianity and the Bible.

Merritt seems to revel in opportunities to elevate a voice from the Christian culture that chooses to deviate from the road of historical Christianity and biblical authority (i.e. Rob Bell, Jen Hatmaker).

Jonathan Merritt is also an admirer of Eugene Peterson. Merritt recently posted an article on the website Religion News Service in which he interviewed the retired pastor.

Under the alleged purpose of curiosity about legacy and faith, Merritt took the opportunity to out Peterson on a topic in which Peterson seemed to have little interest or thought.

Such a small pebble, however, has created tremendous waves.

Merritt asks, “If you were pastoring today and a gay couple in your church who were Christians of good faith asked you to perform their same-sex wedding ceremony, is that something you would do?”

Peterson’s reply: Yes.

// Peterson retracts and clarifies

Peterson has since retracted this comment and made clarification of his views.

However, in the article as presented, this question follows a string of anecdotes regarding Peterson’s pastoral experience with professing gay and lesbian Christians in his past.

“They didn’t make a big deal about it,” Peterson said. “I’d go and visit them, and it never came up for them. They just assumed that they were as Christian as everybody else in the church.”

Regarding the topic in his congregation, Peterson simply states, “we (never) really made a big deal out of it.” He goes on to detail how their church hired a music director who professed to be gay. “Nobody made any questions about it. And he was a really good musician.”

Peterson concludes, “I wouldn’t have said this 20 years ago, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian, and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do. I think that kind of debate about lesbians and gays might be over.”

Unfortunately, as voices on every side of the discussion began to loudly express, the debate is far from over.

// Personal take

I like Eugene Peterson. I have found his written works to be thought-provoking, soul-nourishing and filled with biblical wisdom and insight. When I read the article yesterday morning, I was both forlorn and yet somehow not surprised.

To be fair, Peterson did not affirm the embracing of a homosexual lifestyle by these individuals, nor did he seem to presume the gravity of the questions being asked.

Most of his comments just as easily could have been taken to affirm the church’s need to embrace those who wrestle with same-sex attraction rather than treating them like they have some greater level of sin or struggle than the rest of us in a fallen world.

Like any good pastor would, he talked about embracing those who are open about same-sex attraction in the same way he would talk about embracing the man who wrestles with finding his identity in work or materialism apart from identity in Christ.

However, Merritt was quick to point to other associations and ambiguities regarding Peterson in order to make his case for yet another evangelical leader choosing to leave the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality in favor of the culture’s shifting tide.

Peterson is a member of the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church of the United States of America), which is known for its liberal leaning regarding social and doctrinal issues.

As noted in Merritt’s exposé, The Message does not use the words “homosexual” or “homosexuality” even in passages where the terminology is explicit (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10). To be fair, however, neither does the King James Version.

It is clear Peterson does believe in sexual right and wrong. That’s a true and good thing. But what has not been clear is whether or not Peterson reveres the Bible as the authority over sexuality as much as he does other matters.

This question blew up across multiple platforms as shots rang out from vocal leaders in the LBGTQ and Christian evangelical communities. Peterson’s entire orthodoxy, writings and impact were placed in the dock for questioning, and the demands were rapid-fire.

Only a little more than 24 hours after Merritt’s article hit the interwebs, Peterson posted a clarification of his views regarding biblical marriage.

“I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything… When put on the spot by this particular interviewer, I said yes in the moment. But on further reflection and prayer, I would like to retract that. That’s not something I would do out of respect to the congregation, the larger church body, and the historic biblical Christian view and teaching on marriage. That said, I would still love such a couple as their pastor. They’d be welcome at my table, along with everybody else.”

// What now?

 So was Peterson merely duped by the agenda of Jonathan Merritt and those like him who seek to tear down biblical authority – even in the name of Christianity?

We do not know.

What is more revealing than Merritt’s agenda, however, is Peterson’s lack of clarity and vocal affirmation of the Bible’s authority in matters of culture.

Why has Eugene Peterson faithfully served the church for decades, yet his view on biblical sexuality could not be affirmed or disaffirmed even by the most insatiable critics rifling through decades of material? Why would Peterson even need further reflection and prayer on the topic? Shouldn’t this already be decided in his mind?

To a degree, Peterson’s lack of clarity on sexual issues is more likely a result of his time than his theology. In light of his other writings and contributions, I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. He has never sought social battles and has largely served in a time in which sexual questions were either not asked or of little concern.

Unfortunately, what the fallout from Merritt’s article explicitly shows us is that none of us are exempt from the sexual revolution and its cultural whirlwind. The walls of culture, comfort and community – even ignorance – that many have tried to safely hide behind have been shown to be built of straw.

// Be prepared, be equipped

As Christians in the age of sexual idolatry, we must ask ourselves some questions.

Is your church ready for the discussion on homosexuality and biblical marriage? Is your pastor?

Do you know what the Bible says about sex and sexuality? Would you be able to articulate biblical sexual morality and its importance in the grand scheme of salvation history? Can you explain to someone without hesitation why sexuality is distinctly more tied to the glory of God than the feelings of man?

What the past few days have shown us is that we must always be ready to give an account for biblical orthodoxy. In the plea for truth and joy found in biblical fidelity, if our voices are silent or uneasy, they may as well be shouting against us.

Our lack of biblical doctrine is easily exposed with far-reaching consequences.

Yet we should also take a cue from Peterson that our love for all people (regardless of sexuality) should be what defines the way we treat, interact with and value others in light of the Imago Dei (Image of God).

In our day and age, it is our duty as Christians to know the truth concerning the Bible’s words on sexuality. We must speak that truth in love. But we must also be ready. If the wolves in modern Christian culture can sink their teeth into an 84-year-old retired pastor, what makes us think we will be spared?

“…do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Pet. 3:14-16).


February Roses

February Roses

It’s only a few days away – time to buy those red roses to express your deep love.

No, I’m not talking about St. Valentine’s Day (though I really love that holiday). I’m talking about buying roses to give to your Oklahoma elected officials at the annual Rose Day Pro-Life Rally on Feb. 8.

For more than 25 years, pro-life Oklahomans have flocked to the State Capitol each February, red roses in hand, to show our belief in the sanctity of unborn life and love for pre-born children. In that time, the abortion rate has fallen in Oklahoma, and some 16 life-protecting laws have been passed by the Legislature.

Tragically, though, abortions continue at a conscience-shocking pace in Oklahoma. In 2016, two new abortion clinics were opened in the Oklahoma City area. This means that we, as a pro-life movement, need to stick together more than ever.

We must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We need to support women in the midst of crisis pregnancies and after the birth of their children. We need to re-double our prayer efforts, asking God to help us change hearts and laws.

We also must stay positive in our message and hopeful in our expectations that God will make a mighty move in Oklahoma, in America and around the world. Rose Day has become a flourishing event and a major uniting day for Christians and other pro-life Oklahomans. Let’s pray it continues to be such a beautiful expression of love, as beautiful as a red rose.

Men Are Important

Men Are Important

I believe that men are the lynch pin in the family, the church and the culture.

We’ve been created by God to be warriors, to be champions, to be leaders, to be change agents, but sadly we’ve fallen for the lies that the enemy has spun, and we’ve settled for scraps when we should be dining at the table with the KING. We have been made for so much more.

When we were little boys playing in the backyard our goals were huge.  Who did you want to be? What did you want to do? When was it that we settled? When was it when we just gave up?  WHY did we give up?

You see, men have been give the power (through the power of Jesus Christ) to do so much more. We’ve been given the power to break and DESTROY strongholds in our lives.

The fact is that we as men have been created to be WARRIORS!  And what’s happening on a wholesale level is that the enemy is whispering in our ears that we could never ever be what God has called us to be, so sadly, what happens so often is that men just give up and settle. We settle when we should be achieving and overcoming.

I want you to think about what our culture would look like if men took their rightful place in God’s economy.  What would the home look like?  What would the CHURCH look like?  What would culture look like. I think the game changes when men come alive in the plan and purpose of Jesus Christ!

Take a look at this!

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

You’ve been given the ability to destroy the strongholds in your life!

In saying this I want to tell you all about an event that I think could change the game for many, many men!

It’s called Warrior Weekend and it’s happening on Saturday January 7, 2017.

It will be held at Bartlesville Southern Baptist Church at 8:30 a.m.

Speakers include Keith Burkhart, Cody Bobay and me! 



If you’re tired of where you are, this weekend could change everything.

MAKE plans to be there with us. I mean it. Write it down on your calendar now and commit!  It’s time for your WARRIOR to be unchanged and set free!

Let’s do this!

Remember the Unborn! 4 thoughts on the SCOTUS’ Texas abortion law ruling

Remember the Unborn! 4 thoughts on the SCOTUS’ Texas abortion law ruling

“In one of the most significant rulings on abortion in decades, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled in a 5-3 decision on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt to overturn (a Texas state law) designed to regulate abortion clinics in a way that would protect women’s health,” reports Joe Carter of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Of the ruling, ERLC president Russell D. Moore, a true champion for life, poignantly said, “This is a grievous affirmation of the Court’s commitment to a radical abortion ideology, one that puts unborn children, women, and families at the mercy of a ruthless industry. The Court’s laissez-faire attitude toward the abortion industry reminds me of the tobacco lobby’s work in the legal battles around cigarettes. Nothing but a completely uncontrolled and unaccountable abortion mechanism will suffice. This isn’t ‘reproductive freedom’; it’s the sacrificing of life and human flourishing for the sake of profit.”

It is unclear to me how far-reaching the SCOTUS ruling will be. Does this law affect just the Texas law or all state-attempts to regulate the abortion industry? There are a few things that the ruling does make clear to me:

1. Even with Scalia, we would have lost this one.

Since Justice Scalia’s passing, the Supreme Court just has not been the same. If he had been alive to rule on this, there is no question he would have joined the minority opinion, if not written it. With his vote, however, the pro-life side still would have lost 5-4. If the vote would have been 4-4, the lower court ruling could have stood. But, alas, Justice Kennedy voted the wrong way.

2. We need a pro-life court, but we also need more than that.

Hillary Clinton immediately praised this Supreme Court ruling. At the moment, I am unaware of Trump’s thoughts on the ruling, but some in the pro-Trump camp think this will sway people who were dubious about Trump to go ahead and vote for him, just in hopes of a better Supreme Court nominee than Clinton would give.

We must step back and remember, however, that the swing vote in this decision was Justice Kennedy, a Reagan appointee. While Democrats have had 100 percent “success” in nominating pro-abortion justices, Republicans have been hit and miss. This should remind us that, as pro-life Christians, all of our proverbial eggs should not be in the Supreme Court basket. As much as we need to change the court and to change laws–and we do–we also need to change hearts and minds, so abortion becomes not just illegal but unthinkable, to quote Dr. Moore.

3. ‘Texit’ talk grows.

In the wake of Great Britain’s exit from the EU, commonly called “Brexit,” there are some discontent Americans calling for a Texas political party to emerge or, even more extreme, for Texas to bolt the Union. Some are jesting about this, some may be serious. A SCOTUS ruling of this magnitude, however, probably only pours gasoline on that fire. People who make comments on “Texit,” even tongue in cheek, need to remember that words matter. In this social media world, it is easy for a joke to turn into something serious.

4. More prayer and a better long-term strategy needed to protect life.

The pro-life movement as a whole has been battling on many fronts for several decades. In the final analysis, this SCOTUS ruling may infamously rank right up there with Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Such a devastating ruling will cause the pro-life side to want an equally sweeping move toward life. That may or may not happen.

What we need now is to re-commit ourselves to praying that every unborn child would not be deprived of life. We need the church to roll up its sleeves and go to work in prayer, not looking for a quick political fix. We need patience and hope and God’s help, if we are to win.

To that end, when the Supreme Court delivered Texans such a devastating blow, I say, let’s “Remember the Unborn!” and fight onward, together.

Transgendered in America: Public Schools, Public Restrooms and You

Transgendered in America: Public Schools, Public Restrooms and You

Last week, the Obama Administration’s U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a sweeping directive to all public schools about transgender students, thus unleashing a national controversy.

According to the Administration, the letter (which can be found at simply helps “provide educators the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.”

What is really going on here, though, is more than a letter with some suggestions. The Administration is force-feeding an entire worldview of human sexuality on schools and tying money to it, specifically implying that schools federal funding could be in question, if they do not comply with the implementation of the directives.

Southern Baptist blogger Trevin Wax said the Obama directive will have four immediate ramifications: 1) It will blaze a trail toward tyranny, because this is such an obvious Federal overreach; 2) It will co-opt the language and moral authority of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s; 3) It will promote a new vision of what it means to be human; and 4) It will cause Christians to explore new education options.

Christian parents and grandparents, even while we contend for the soul and future of public schools, must take a more active role in supporting and expanding Christian schooling options—both home and private schools.

The Wax piece is well worth reading, and I believe his fourth point is especially important to ponder. There are other must-reads on this issue, including this one from Andrew Walker, this one from the ERLC and this one from Russell Moore. Here are some key questions this issue raises:

How many transgendered people are there in America?

There is no way to know the real statistic. However, according to an ABC News article, there are some 700,000 transgendered people in the United States. The Williams Institute, a source that has been cited by groups like Baptist Press, has estimated “that .3 percent of the population identifies as transgender suggest(ing) at least 950,000 Americans perceive their gender identity as not matching their biological sex.” So, let’s pick the higher number and round up, saying there are 1 million Americans who self-identify as transgendered. This is only 1 million out of 318 million people who self-identify as transgendered.

How many transgendered people are there in American schools?

The ABC article also said, “’If you’re in a high school of 2,000 kids, you’re probably going to have somewhere between two and four trans kids in that school at any one time,’ says Dr. Norman Spack, the co-director of the gender management clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital.”

If we generously apply his math to the whole, saying that four out of every 2,000 high school students self identifies as transgendered, this equals .2 percent of the student population. If you take the Williams Institute’s number of .3 percent, and apply it to the approximately 15 million high school students in American public schools, that means there are 45,000 transgendered students in American public schools. That is not a drop in the bucket by any means, yet it is a remarkably smaller number than we are led to believe.

How many transgendered people are there in Oklahoma schools?

Again, there is no way to know this. But applying the generous .3 percent estimate, there are 185,000 public high school in Oklahoma, which means there are 555 transgendered young people in Oklahoma public schools. With nearly 1,800 public schools in this state, that is not even one person for every school.

What is the directive making schools do?

Under their radical, expanded understanding of Title IX laws, the Feds say, “Our federal civil rights law guarantees all students, including transgender students, the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities without sex discrimination as a core civil right.” The Supreme Court has not said Title IX applies here, but the Obama Administration does, hence the directive.

This means if a student or their parent/guardian simply say, “I was a boy and now I’m a girl” or “I was Tommy but now I am Sally,” everyone, from top to bottom must go along with it. Tommy (now “Sally”) must be allowed to play on the girls’ soccer team, use the girls’ locker room and bathroom and be called “Sally” by every faculty member and student, or face the consequences. There’s no doctors note required, no psychologist’s word of endorsement, no nothing. Just one student deciding they are now a different sex than they were at birth. Therefore, schools must make radical, costly structural and personnel accommodations that have never been required before, or else lose their Federal funding.

What’s the problem and what do we do now?

As Trevin Wax points out, this White House decree is a Federal overreach of the first order. Texas’ Lt. Governor went so far as to call it “blackmail,” because funding is attached to the demands. Whatever the case, these sweeping changes happened with virtually no public debate on the issue and with states and localities having limited-to-no input.

…though people who identify as transgendered is a very small number of the population, we must resist the tendency to marginalize or ostracize them.

What is more, every public school is required to make changes to bathrooms, locker rooms and sports without any track record as to how this affects order, decency and privacy of students. This simply cannot stand.

As Andrew Walker pointed out, people who are frustrated by this must do the following:

  1. “Schools should refuse to comply with the federal government’s overreach.”
  2. “Citizens should contact their elected representatives to register their dissatisfaction.”
  3. “Citizens need to take their frustration to the ballot box.”
  4. “State legislatures should pass laws that counteract this decree.”
  5. “We should see that actions like this invite God’s judgment on our land—as any rejection of Christ’s Lordship does.”
  6. “Christians should take stock of the cultural moment.”
  7. “Christian parents need to evaluate what this means for them and their children. They need to establish a tipping point. This may be the most important response to consider. What actions taken by your local school will be sufficient for you to re-evaluate public education?”

In conclusion, we are in a cultural tug of war which continues to escalate. The Obama Administration’s decree discouraged responsible public debate and only heightened tensions. Christians must stand strong in our convictions that we are made male and female by God (Genesis 1), and that God doesn’t make mistakes.

We also must recognize that though people who identify as transgendered is a very small number of the population, we must resist the tendency to marginalize or ostracize them. With compassion, we should love our transgendered neighbors in the Name of Christ and not politicize the issue.

Finally, Christian parents and grandparents, even while we contend for the soul and future of public schools, must take a more active role in supporting and expanding Christian schooling options—both home and private schools.

If these disturbing trends continue, and it comes time for an exodus from the public schools, our people will want to find Christian education options that feel like a land of milk and honey.