Category Archives: Through the Hive

Has the Church Helped Break Marriage?

If you followed the news at all over the past couple of weeks, then you know that the Supreme Court refused to hear cases stemming from several states’ same-sex marriage bans.  By refusing to hear these cases, the rulings made by the lower Federal courts that turned over the bans now stand, giving same-gendered couples the immediate right to seek marriage licenses in their respective states, as well as in the states under the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts.  This is a big deal – especially as cases are heard in both the 11th Circuit and 5th Circuit.  For those of us who live in Georgia, this means that there is a three-judge panel that will soon decide to maintain a traditional definition of marriage or change it to suit the culture’s demand for change.  As Christians who are called to be salt in light in our culture – even if the culture is growing ever darker, how should we respond to this issue?

As you pray about these developments in our country, I think It is important that we recognize three important realities.  First, as much as it grieves us to see people make lifestyle choices that are in opposition to God’s word, we must recognize that it is their choice to make.  We can speak the truth with them, share the Gospel with them, plead with them to repent, but ultimately, sinners have to choose their pathway in life.  Some will choose life, some will choose death, but all must choose.  The homosexual, the fornicator, the thief, the alcoholic, and the addict must make their choice in life just as you did. Christians should not have disdain for sinners, but should lovingly plead with them to choose Jesus, not their sin.

Secondly, we have to recognize that evangelicals are at a clear impasse on this issue.  Homosexuality has been around a long time.  But modern societies have never sought to legitimize it as they are today.  The more homosexuality is mainstreamed, the more it will come into conflict with Christians who are seeking to live their lives, run their businesses, educate their children from a biblical perspective.  Already, homosexuality is being integrated into secular educational curriculum around the country.  We have already seen business owners forced to sacrifice their religious liberty to facilitate the marriages of homosexuals.  These business owners simply chose not to participate in those marriage ceremonies due to their Christian consciences.  They suffered social, political and judicial persecution as a result.

Thirdly, we need to recognize that the RAPID movement toward same-sex marriage is only the most recent symptom in a disease that we have been suffering with for a long time.  We have created a climate where marriage has become little more than a social contract.  It is very difficult for Christians to claim moral high ground in the marriage debate because we have allowed marriage to become a fairly flimsy institution in our own rank and file.  As we have watched over the last century, we have seen our own divorce rates match the divorce rates of nonbelievers.  We have tolerated (in some cases, celebrated) the cohabitation of our young adults.  Not to mention our problems with adultery and fornication that go unchecked.  We are very loud critics of the homosexual agenda, without having much to say about our own marriage problems.  It is a wise time for the evangelical church to own these issues, lovingly engage in church discipline to help correct these issues, and publicly repent for worrying more about the splinters in the eyes of those outside the church while ignoring the rather large planks protruding from our own eyes.  Marriage may be getting “redefined” by our judicial system, but the church has unwittingly contributed to the new definition.

If this latest cultural development does anything, let it first cause us to redouble our efforts to improve the health of the evangelical marriage.  Let our children see the benefit of a dad and mom who are madly in love with one another.  In all things, let the church’s example to the culture reveal how much better things are when done God’s way – including marriage.  The first step to transforming the world is transforming ourselves.

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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My GBC Presidential Endorsement

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In just a few hours, Georgia Baptists will be asked to pick a leader for the next two years. This person, whoever it may be, will have a great deal of responsibility in the life of our denomination. This year, for the first time in years, we have a contested race. It isn’t just one guy that rises to the top and serves in the leadership of our denomination. It is between two. Two equally qualified, equally conservative voices – Fred Evers from Northside Baptist in Tifton, and John Waters from First Baptist in Statesboro. No doubt, you’ve had your fill of Baptist “politicking” from campaign ads in the Christian Index, to spam filling your email box, to cute little video endorsements from various pastors all across the state. And I am certain that there will be plenty of “politicking” going on inside the common areas of North Metro FBC over the next two days. But the question must be asked, “Brian, who are you voting for?”

Before I give my endorsement, let me first say how much I despise the process by which we nominate candidates for office in the GBC. Tomorrow, during the afternoon session, various pastors from around the state will stand at the mic and nominate their candidate for the different offices. Undoubtedly, the nomination will sound something like this…

“My candidate has been the pastor of Such-n-Such Church for the last 87.75 years. Prior to serving Georgia Baptists, he served in every other state as well as a few foreign mission fields. He is a Cooperative Program champion, increasing his CP giving a percent every year while at Such-n-Such, so that now the church operates with only 12.25% of undesignated gifts. He is a champion for the lost and prides himself on sharing the gospel with everything that breathes. Over the last 80+ years, Such-n-Such has baptized 4,357 dogs, 3,320 cats, and a couple of hundred farm animals. For this reason, Such-n-Such has consistently been ranked among the top 100 most influential Georgia Baptist Churches and has always been recognized as being one of the fastest growing Sunday Schools in the state. In fact, they’ve had to move out of their current facility and start having services in a barn down the street to accommodate the large crowds of barking and meowing congregants. My candidate is a fourth generation preacher. His Baptist roots run deep. His family was one of the charter members of the first Southern Baptist Church in Augusta. He has personally led mission trips to the furthest reaches of the globe, including a trip to evangelize the scientific community stationed in Antarctica. My candidate loves Georgia Baptists and has a vision for how we can reach the millions of lost and unchurched (and their pets) living throughout this great state. You should vote for my candidate.”

It is this way every year. When I hear us stand at the mic and heap these accolades on men, it makes me wonder if Jesus could even be nominated to a position of leadership in our convention. A homeless, unmarried, controversial, evangelist who constantly criticized the religious establishment. That guy’s probably not getting a lot of votes in Lawrenceville on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that both Fred Evers and John Waters will have glowing nomination speeches prepared by very gifted preachers. The truth of the matter is that I would be honored to vote for the guy whose nominator simply said,

“He’s a sorry sinner, saved by a merciful God. In His grace, God has allowed him to have the great honor of shepherding His people. His church isn’t perfect, but they’re trying to walk with the Lord and support the Great Commission. My candidate loves Jesus because Jesus loved him first. I believe that my candidate is called by God to lead our convention for the next two years. He’s not completely comfortable doing this but is willing to follow Christ outside of his comfort zone. Because of this I will do everything in my power to support his leadership. You should too.”

Whoever THAT candidate is, that’s who gets my vote every time. This isn’t a Baptist beauty contest. It is, I hope, something much more significant. With all of this talk about change, let’s change the way we do things on Tuesday. And instead of boasting in a man and his leadership, let’s boast in Christ and how Christ has empowered and gifted men for sacrificial service to the church.

Looking forward to a “vigorous” Georgia Baptist Convention!

Brian S. Carroll
Northside Baptist Church
Newnan, GA

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The Christian Chicken Little

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If you are reading this, then it is quite evident that you are still part of the human race that exists on the temporal side of eternity. You were not snatched out of your sneakers at 6PM on May 21 after a worldwide earthquake and angelic trumpet blast. If you’re like me, then you had your share of laughs mocking the false teachings of Mr. Harold Camping and his media empire. Some are downright angry at the reproach they brought to the name of Christ by their RV Caravans and doomsday tracts. Undoubtedly there are some who believed the predictions and find themselves disillusioned today.

Many in the blogosphere have tried to discern personal lessons from Mr. Camping. I read some bloggers who have likened their own spiritual journeys to a watered down version of Camping’s deceptions. Unfortunately, I see the need for a greater word of caution.

The Apostle Peter warned us about the danger of false teachers. In 2 Peter 2:1-3, we read, “…there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.”

This is a clear warning about the nature and motives of false teachers, of which I believe Mr. Camping to be. I can say this with confidence because Jesus declared in Matthew 24 that no one knows the hour or day of his return. In that same chapter, Jesus even said “This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Therefore, anyone who declares a date/time for the return of Jesus is a false teacher.

This is not the first time that Mr. Camping has been guilty of false teaching. In 1994, he predicted the second coming for the first time. He said that he missed that date because of a “mathematical error.” He stated this time around that there was absolutely no way that Jesus was not coming back on May 21, 2011. Right now he is 0-2 for end times prophesies.

Mr. Camping is also a proponent of the King James Bible. Camping is what I call a “KJV’er” – someone who thinks the KJV is the only true bible version. Now, to be clear, I enjoy the KJV. I will read it from time to time for word studies and comparisons. I know many people who prefer that version because they grew up reading it. But a personal preference does not mean that everyone else has to abide by that preference. I prefer birthday cake without ice cream, but I don’t expect everyone else to abstain from having ice cream with their cake because of my preference.

The same is true for bible versions. A bible version needs to be tested against the original languages, but to be dogmatic about a particular version over another is just another brand of false teaching. No one can make a biblical argument about a bible version. There are plenty of discussions to be had about translation philosophies. The Message may not be the best bible for word studies, while the NASB may not be the best for devotional reading. But the truth is that there are entire churches that use the KJV as a litmus test for orthodoxy.

One day, I got into an argument with a KJV’er who was a Gideon. I asked him why the Gideon’s relied so heavily on the KJV bible. The best answer deals with publishing rights. The KJV is public domain and can be printed freely, without royalties. If they printed the NIV, for example, then they would have to pay royalties to Zondervan. But this particular guy began to tell me about all of the corruptions in modern versions that are not in the KJV. Again, using a bible version as a litmus test for orthodoxy is not a biblically defensible position.

The warning for all of us is to be cautious of anyone claiming any sort of new revelation or requirement that is outside of the plumb line of Scripture. In both of these areas – Judgment Day predictions and Bible version litmus tests – Camping is out of plumb. It is important that Camping’s followers heed this warning lest they be led astray again. Paul warns about this very thing in his letter to the Ephesians. In chapter four he wrote, “And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.” Camping’s followers have been riding a wave of falsehoods and they need to find solid biblical instruction so they can begin to discern the truth.

Camping, on the other hand, needs to repent for this sin of false teaching. He should also apologize to his followers for deceiving them. And while he is at it, it wouldn’t hurt to apologize to the church at large for making the church a mockery in a culture that is already hostile to the things of God.

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Encouraging News from Friends in Mexico

This was an email sent to me by some dear friends doing work among the Aztec peoples of central Mexico.  God is doing amazing things among this ancient people.  This testimony, though the English is very rough, gives much glory to our Lord.  I hope that it is a blessing to you!

Beloved in the Lord, A wonderful expression these days is “MERRY CHRISTMAS” and we wish you a wonderful time during this season, with the Lord, with your Family and with the Saints at the Chapel. Thanks for your love and prayers for us, for the radio programs and for our Aztec peoples. Nine years ago we began visiting Tzacuala Tehuipango where a band of thieves were giving serious problems to many people, they even robbed the electronic equipment of the local Primary School. They were 14 children 4 to 12 years old! We asked you to pray for them and soon we began to see fruit, most of them made a decision for Christ and their lives were amazingly changed. Some of them have been shining for the Lord. Their parents have been friendly with us and have been letting their children come to the Bible class, but no adults would want to listen to the Gospel. Something had to happen to shake up their lives and their strong Roman Catholic beliefs, and it did.

On December 1 a terrible accident happened when a speeding truck ran over Gloria (4) and Andrea (6),  God’s loving girls. Gloria went to be with the Lord immediately and Andrea was taken to the Hospital where the doctors told the parents to be prepared because she was going to surely die soon. We prayed for her in the Assembly and the doctors and her parents were amazed at her so fast recovery! In the process Gloria’s burial was done and before the body was taken to the cemetery we had a meeting at Gloria’s family home. When Abel and Laurencio were preaching the Gospel a man came in to the room and with a very loud voice he shouted “be quiet” “shut up!” and immediately our brothers stopped preaching thinking that the man was referring to them, but they had quite a surprise when he said “I am not telling you brothers to stop speaking to us about de Word of God, but to those women talking and making noise! Referring to a group of women doing it, they were the Roman Catholic women who had come to say their Roman Catholic ritualistic prayers and did not want the Word of God to be preached. Gloria’s parents and two uncles, the man who wanted to listen to the Word of God, plus several other adults made a decision for Christ!

Later on at the cemetery, again the Gospel was preached and more adults including the brother of the man who drove the truck in the accident, with tears in his eyes accepted Christ as their Savior! We have kept on having meetings every day ever since. On the fifth day when Andrea returned to her home from the hospital, she did not know that Gloria was with the Lord, and her father asked Juan to tell her about her sister. He told her about heaven and hell and about Gloria’s Savior and about Lazarus being taken by the Angels, when she heard that she said “at the moment of the accident I saw two men with white robes coming down from heaven where Gloria was, so, she was taken up to be with Jesus!” She did not shed any tears, neither was she sad, she just asked, “Would Jesus have already given her something to eat? Would Jesus have given her some clothing and shoes? And a bed?”

After her questions were answered, several songs that Gloria used to sing were sung and the one that she liked the most too: “I will praise the Lord with my heart, my soul, my voice, my hands my feet! And if I do not have my voice I will praise Him with my hands, if I do not have my hands I will praise Him with my feet, if I do not have my feet I will praise him with my heart, if I do not have my heart I will praise Him with my soul, and if I do not have my Soul IT IS BECAUSE I WENT TO BE WITH HIM!” We can only say, PRAISE THE LORD THIS CHRISTMAS! AND WHILE WE ARE HERE; LET US GIVE CHILDREN AND ADULTS AROUND US HIS WONDERFUL MESSAGE OF THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!

Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS PRAISING, LOVING AND WORSHIPING OUR PRECIOUS LORD JESUSCHRIST!

Yours in His Love and Victory,

Pepe and Judy Barrios

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Where have all the Christians gone?

Frightening Statistics

This should be a wakeup call.  We are taking the Gospel, something that is relevant to all generations at all times, and we are shrouding it in the disguise of increasingly irrelevant programs.  May God save us from ourselves!

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It’s July 26th…

There I sat on the futon by the window of the large postpartum suite at the hospital, filling out necessary paperwork to get Matthew’s birth certificate and Social Security card lined up.  It was fairly standard government paperwork.  Date of Birth?  July 26, 2009.  Weight?  7 pounds 14 ounces.  Mother’s information.  Father’s information.  The second page got a little more invasive, wanting specifics about the birth and any nasty habits during pregnancy, like smoking.  Lots of questions about race and ethnicity.  The Libertarian in my blood got me wondering what kind of social engineering was going on with this line of questioning, but I answered them nonetheless.

Then the questions began to focus on Heather and her care during pregnancy.  How many prenatal visits?  Date of first visit?  Date of last visit?  Any abnormalities during pregnancy?  How many previous pregnancies?  The outcome of those pregnancies?  I reluctantly answered.

The form asked questions about previous pregnancies that ended well.  We thank God every day for our first pregnancy that produced Gabe.  We cherish him and are proud of him.  Gladly I wrote his birthday down on the form and gladly checked the box that indicated he was still alive.

Then it asked about pregnancies that did not end well.  As you may know, Heather and I lost a pregnancy in between Gabe and Matthew.  Though we can’t be sure, we think that pregnancy was our little girl who now plays at the feet of Jesus.  But with some amount of pain, I indicated that we had a previous pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage.  Remembering that event conjured up all of those emotions that had hidden dormant in my soul for the past two years.  The next question, I was not prepared for.  Hadn’t even crossed my mind.  This social engineering government form was transformed into a messenger of God’s marvelous grace.  What was the date that the previous pregnancy ended?

So, I thought to myself, “When did we lose the baby?  It was 2007.  It was August, no, it wasn’t that late in the summer.  It was July, late July.  It was July twenty…No, it couldn’t be.”  As I realized what was happening, tears began to well up in my eyes.  I asked Heather, who was doting over her brand new baby boy, “When did we have the miscarriage?”

She slowly looked up at me, with tears in her eyes, “It was July twenty…sixth.”

“Are you sure?”  I asked.

“Check your calendar.  I’m sure it was July twenty sixth.”

So I pulled out my calendar and went back two years.  There it was.  Thursday, July 26, 2007.  The magnitude of this thought was more than I could bear and Heather and I began to weep.  Not tears of sorrow, at least not completely.  Not tears of joy, at least not completely, bur rather tears of appreciation – if such a thing exists.

I am reminded of the words of the psalmist, “What is man that you remember him?”  I am not really worth remembering.  I mess up all the time.  Sometimes, I think God would have less to worry about if he just forgot me.  But he doesn’t.  And in a not so subtle way, he reminded me yet again that he remembers me and my family.  Every time I look into the eyes of Matthew I will be reminded that God doesn’t forget us.

Skeptics will say that all this is just a coincidence.  I tend to think God is far more creative than a game of random chance.  For me, July 26 will always be a reminder of that.  For this Daddy, I gladly offer praise to my Heavenly Father who doesn’t forget the needs of his children.

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Every Pastor’s Nightmare

Church Bus Crash Kills 1 in Mississippi, 23 Hurt – Local News | News Articles | National News | US News – FOXNews.com

I can’t imagine receiving this phone call.  Apparently, this news broke just as FBC Shreveport was gathering for their morning worship service.  I tried to imagine how this scenario played out.

Telephone rings.  “Pastor, there’s been an accident.  The bus tire blew and rolled the bus.  It’s bad.  It’s real bad”

Imagine having to leave the phone call and enter into an auditorium of parents who just sent their students off to camp.  Imagine having to go and find the mommy of the young man who died, just as she was coming out of Sunday School.  Imagine having to call those parents who never come to church, but who send their teenager every time the doors are open.  It’s bad.  It’s real bad.

This is one of those moments where faith is rocked.  It is a moment where the questions come at a rate far faster than the questions.  This seems like one of those Job-like moments.  A moment when doubters come out of the woodwork, “Curse God and die” they shout.  “How could a loving God allow such a tragedy?” they question.  “You’d better call the church attorney!” they caution.

I wish I had answers as to why church buses are not miraculously protected with an angel monitoring each tire’s integrity and a built in GPS – “Godly Positioning System” – to keep the bus where it needs to be.  I wish I knew why the doors to the church are not guarded with the same angels that keep watch over the Garden of Eden.  But the truth is that ministry demands that we be prepared for the worst.  One day, the bus will wreck.  One day, the gunman will enter.  One day, the pedophile will strike.  What will you do?

Some will undoubtedly panic in fear.  Fear of lawsuits.  “Did we check the tire pressure?”  Some will get angry at God for allowing such a tragedy.  Some will be haunted with doubts.  Some will turn to Jesus.

I must commend FBC Shreveport.  Upon hearing the news, they still had their worship service.  But that worship service must have had a decidedly different tone.   When the worst happens, that’s really all we can do is worship.  The amazing thing is that we worship a God who felt the pain of death both as an active participant and as a grieving Father.

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