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The kiddos have been asking about getting baptized. What a fun topic to discuss with a bunch of 7 year old children! I mean that both seriously and sarcastically, of course. The rabbit trails inherent with any conversation with just one 7 year old, let alone four of them can be challenging in itself, not even mentioning so deep a topic as baptism! 🙂

Yesterday, since we couldn’t get to church with the icy roads, we decided to “do church” at home, and this seemed as good a time as any to begin the conversation.

My wife and I began studying the topic with them from the Scriptures, but we did not use baptism as a starting point. Rather, we began in the Old Testament, studying the initial perfection of Creation, the subsequent Fall in Eden, and the sacrificial system set up after that. We spent time in Hebrews and Leviticus studying the necessity of blood for the forgiveness of sins.

We talked about the transition from the Old Law and the repeated sacrifices by the High Priest that could never really forgive sin, but rather pay for them for a time until Christ became our Great High Priest and gave the Once For All sacrifice through His blood on the Cross. How through one man (Adam) came sin and death, but through Christ came life and forgiveness.

We discussed the fact that it was God who made both the first sacrifice (the killing of animals to clothe the nakedness of Adam and Eve) and the final sacrifice (Christ’s death on the cross to finally and completely cover our sins).

We didn’t even really get into baptism. We just talked about this foundational theology. Sounds like a lot for some 7 year olds to grab onto, doesn’t it?

I didn’t have high expectations of retention for them at this point, but I quizzed them at the end of our study, and then again last night before we went to bed. I mean, I hit them with some pretty deep stuff. There’s no way they could retain all that, right?

WRONG…

I kept on nailing them, and even threw in a couple of questions I hadn’t really gone too in-depth with them on during our study just to see how they’d answer, and I’m telling you, with every question, they knocked it out of the park!

Our kids are smart…

Or, maybe this stuff just isn’t as hard to understand as I seem to think it should be for a 7 year old.

Either way, we’re pretty proud parents. We always knew they were smart kids, but good grief!

Next up, we’ll talk about grace, faith, works, and how all that plays with baptism, salvation, etc… You know: “What really saves us?” “Is baptism a work or a response of faith?” stuff like that…

It will be interesting to see how they process all that for sure…

Blessings,

-BB

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“It is in the difficult times that we learn what we are truly made of… and in those times, we may find it is time to refine our substance.”

I have no idea who said that, or if I just came up with it on my own – but it came to me sometime last week. It has been a constant thought as I have been going through this professional transition over the last few months.

As a believer, husband, father, son, friend, business man, and all around citizen of planet Earth, the “stuff” I am made of is going through a time of refinement right now.

In reality, we should always be seeking to grow and refine our substance, but you know what I mean – There are moments on the timeline of each of our lives when we get to make some defining choices as to the kind of person we are going to become over our lifetime.

A phenomenal business leader in my community says all the time, “If you’re not green and growing, you’re brown and dying.” If he happens to be reading this, he knows who he is. I don’t have his permission to use his name here, but he should know that the things he’s preached to me and others over the years “sticks” with us. At least with me, anyway.

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10 (ESV)

“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” – Proverbs 17:3 (ESV)

In times of waiting patiently, searching for what’s “next” professionally, or in any other area of life, it is natural to begin to wonder “Why, Lord? Have I done something that is deserving of a refining time? Is there something in my character that needs to be purged?”

While the answer to that question is always technically “yes” (All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory – Rom. 3:23), it would serve us well to remember that Job had done absolutely nothing “wrong” at the time of his testing (Job 1:8), yet he experienced sufficient difficulty to last several lifetimes.

God has in NO way promised us ease and comfort in this life, and any “gospel” you hear that promises riches, comfort, and ease, should be met with immediate skepticism and rebuke. (John 16:33) The Christ-follower’s reward is not in this life, but in the life to come (Matthew 5:12).

It is our duty in this life to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8) regardless of our circumstances. Much like the apostle Paul, whether in times of plenty or in times of need, we must learn to be content with our circumstances in the Lord. (Phil. 4:11-13)

In no way do I suggest that you or I should not strive to better ourselves or to attain personal or professional goals. What I do suggest is that nothing is guaranteed, and when everything falls out from under us, whether it is wealth, health, or relationships that fail us, we should walk so closely with our Lord that He is always enough to satisfy the longings of our hearts. To know that He may not always provide our wants, but He will always provide our needs. (Phil 4:19)

O Lord, that my substance would be wholly of that nature, for it is not. I confess there are times that I find my heart longing for other things. Things that cannot satisfy eternally. Only You, O Lord, can satisfy the hearts and souls of humanity.

What’s your substance, friend? You may or may not be going through a “refining time” right now, but perhaps you need to pray for it to come. Perhaps your substance needs to have the dross removed, and the impurities burned away. It can be intimidating to face such a time, but to become the best version of ourselves, we must face these moments from time to time.

I’m not just talking about the accountability to progress we should all engage in… I’m talking about a special time of extraordinary refining… a deep cleansing… a purification.

What do you want your substance to be? What are you willing to go through to make it the best it can be in this life?

The path to greatness is through the fire.

Beneath His Mercy,

-BB

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My friends,

Many Christians and others on the right are simply making the wrong argument when they say that Phil Robertson’s constitutional right to free speech has somehow been violated. It most likely has not.

First of all, employees are typically “at will.” This means an employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason. If he is an at will employee, then this case is closed.

Secondly, even if Phil had a contract with A&E that could possibly change his “at will” status, do you really think the attorneys at A&E would not have drafted that contract with such language, provisions, and clauses to provide them with the right to terminate him if, in their eyes, he did something to shame the company?

If he is not “at will,” then this is likely the case, and the case is probably closed. The only way it isn’t, is if the attorneys at A&E were asleep on the job. That kind of language in a contract would be, I would think, standard for anyone, even more so for an outspoken, Bible-believing redneck from West Monroe, LA. (Whom this Bible-believing redneck from South Alabama happens to agree with, for the record.)

Phil was well within his rights to express his views as he did. No one dragged him into a courtroom to prosecute him for it. I applaud him for speaking truth into darkness, and standing up for what he believes in.

However, A&E has rights, too. They have a right to terminate their relationship with him, which by the way, they didn’t. They “suspended him indefinitely” from being on air, and the Robertsons are still being paid. They also have a right to promote and protect their brand in whatever manner they see fit. They are a private enterprise, and as a free-market capitalist, I believe in their right to take this action. I may think they’re idiots for doing it, because Duck Dynasty is wildly popular and they are alienating the base audience of the show, but it’s their right to be idiots.

I find it interesting that those who were so quick to come to Chick-Fil-A’s defense over Dan Cathy’s stance on same-sex marriage are so quick to condemn A&E’s. They are both private companies doing what they deem best for their respective organizations. (Hat tip to my buddy Liam for pointing that out.)

Also, did it occur to anyone that this may actually be a stroke of pure marketing genius on the part of A&E? Think about it: They’ve seen (I think) a dip in ratings, and perhaps they thought the show was in decline. Every reality show, for the most part, runs its course, right? Perhaps when the marketing department saw his comments, they saw an opportunity to capitalize on the situation by taking this action. Consider this:

No doubt, the next few episodes will see an increase in viewership (because Americans can’t help but gawk), and they’ll sell a boatload of additional merchandise.

Maybe they saw this a chance to “get a few more bucks out of the ducks” before the show sails off into the sunset?

Now, let me be clear: I actually agree with most everything Phil had to say, if not the manner in which he chose to say some of it. He frankly could have left out the anatomy lesson and still gotten the point across. The Scriptures are not unclear on God’s views of homosexuality. They are very plain, and he really didn’t need to go there on the mechanics of intimacy.

But I also agree with Phil when he said he loves all humanity, and that he would not treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different than him, and that we would all be better off if we loved God and each other.

This is what I fear outraged Christians are missing in this, and other matters where our society is becoming increasingly hostile to the Gospel of Christ. We are most certainly entering into a time when our culture is intolerant of Christianity. We may even face severe persecution in my lifetime or in my children’s lifetime.

However, what is emerging as what I call “Militant Christianity” is wholly contrary to the Gospel of Peace and Love our Savior preached, and the disciples lived out in the early years of the church.

In the Old Testament, God’s people were indeed militant, but Jesus changed all that. Even when facing arrest and crucifixion, as Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, Jesus stopped Peter, and told him this is not the way, and restored Malchus’ ear.

Show me one time in the Acts of the Apostles where the disciples revolted against persecutors. It’s just not there. Peter, Paul, and the other followers of Christ reasoned with people from the Scriptures, endured persecutions, torture, and death for the cause of Christ, but they were never militant. In fact, their captors were often won to Christ through their loving actions and peaceful lifestyles.

Don’t mistake me as a pacifist. What the Church does and the State does are two totally separate matters. I believe in a strong national defense, and am thankful for our current and veteran soldiers.

However, the defense of the Gospel is not  waged with swords and chariots. It is waged with the Holy Spirit as our guide – loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Preaching truth (yes, even calling people out of sinful lifestyles), but doing it with love.

As I see pictures and quotes on Facebook and Twitter from Christ followers who seem angry about “Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas” or “In God We Trust” or other matters where our culture is clearly turning away from God, I encourage you to remember an old saying: “You will catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

Christ did not come to be a militant king. He came to be the King of your heart. Yes, He said that He would cause division between family members, but He didn’t say to go to war with them… rather, He said to pick up your cross and follow Him.

If Christianity continues to decline in America, that is not the end of Christianity or the Kingdom – it is simply the fallen world we live in. God never guaranteed us safety for being a Christian. In fact, he guaranteed us just the opposite – persecution.

We are to be salt and light. Ministering to others and preaching truth, but never in a hostile manner.

When the time comes, will you fight your captors, or will you lovingly win them to Jesus?

I implore you, church, focus on loving God, loving others, and preaching the truth in love. This is what will win the world to Jesus.

Beneath His Mercy,

-BB

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