Month: June 2012

Elliff, Tebow speak to pastor’s wives

NEW ORLEANS—Counting it an honor and privilege to serve Southern Baptists as the wife of the president of the International Mission Board, Jeannie Elliff traced the hand of God in her life as she spoke to the Pastor’s Wives session of the annual Pastors’ Conference.

“He delivers me and he is near me when I’m broken-hearted,” she declared, recalling Psalm 34. “He saves me when my spirit is crushed. He delivers me from all our afflictions, and because he is so faithful, I cannot help but bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Aware that the “blinking lights” and “bouncers usher you off” the stage when speaking too long, Elliff quickly recounted the touchstones of her life that point to the promises of God’s deliverance described in verses 15-19 of the Psalm.

Growing up in a non-ministry family, she married a preacher who pastored nearly 20 years before God called them to the mission field of Zimbabwe. Their departure was bittersweet, leaving within a year after Tom’s father walked away from a 43-year marriage. “We were like two little kids holding on to each other,” she said, recalling the night her husband learned of his father’s lapse in moral character.

Still in their mid-30s at the time, Elliff said they were crushed and scared. “I can’t imagine what this does to a 7- or 5-year old,” she said, recalling how deeply his parents’ eventual divorce affected them as adults. “After that, things began to happen in our lives that really proved our faith.”

First, there was the act of sabotage that wrecked the car she was driving, throwing three of the four children out of the car and leaving their 14-year-old daughter on the highway pinned under the vehicle and eventually requiring a return to the States for medical care. Then, a 20-year pastorate began with recovery from the monumental debt the church had incurred in the years prior. Later, their 16-year-old son was hit by a car in which the driver was killed. In one year both of her parents died leaving her with the responsibility of selling their house and belongings.

Then there was the fire that destroyed their home in Oklahoma, followed soon after by the F5 tornado that exploded the condominium to which they had moved. A knee injury forced her husband to preach from a wheelchair during his three months of recovery and two battles with breast cancer taught her that he was a better nurse to her than she was to him.

Amidst those hard experiences there were many good ones as well—the weddings of all four children within a year’s time and the births of 25 grandchildren. When the second of two daughters left for the mission field, Elliff questioned her earlier thought that she’d be thrilled if all of her children were missionaries.

“That was my mouth, but it wasn’t my heart,” she recalled thinking. Once God gave her a love for the Cambodian people to whom her daughter would minister, she accepted his plan for her child’s life. Later, that love extended to the Thai people group that another daughter sought to reach, excited that they were “cousins of the Cambodians.”

At one time 11 of their grandchildren lived overseas. “Tom and I cannot grieve over the sacrifice we make in being away from our children, calling the nearly 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries and their 4,000 children “the world’s unknown heroes.”

“When God broke my heart for missions as a pastor’s wife, and helped me get out of myself and the issues I was struggling with, I realized it’s not just about me,” she said. After developing an interest in the IMB, she realized it is only in eternity that the sacrifices of missionaries will be fully known. “Join me in getting to know who they are.”


Another former missionary, Pam Tebow, challenged the wives of ministers to see their “fishbowl” lives as an opportunity for influence. “That’s not a bad thing. There are such advantages and great accountability. Use your influence intentionally because that’s why God created you—to glorify him.”

She taught them to get to know the Master, learn from his manual, discover the power of prayer, develop a biblical mindset that focuses on eternity, care about their mission and remain passionate about God and the opportunities he has given them to influence their children.

“When we invest in our kids, husbands, and ministries of our churches, those are things that last forever.” Her testimony provided highlights of her ministry with her husband in the Philippines and as the mother of five children, including NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.

Aware that many of those investments do not yield immediate appreciation, Tebow said, “We’re not patted on the back and we don’t get a lot of accolades when we do things on behalf of children, husbands and churches, but God notices and he rewards you eternally for what you do for the cause of Christ.”


Parenting preachers’ kids was the focus of a roundtable discussion led by Susie Hawkins, author of “From One Ministry Wife to Another,” joined by Elliff, as well as Carmen Howell of Daytona Beach, Fla., Elicia Horton of Kansas City, Mo., and Cindy King of Philadelphia.

Begun in 2005 as a pre-convention session of the annual meeting, the event is operated on a shoestring budget where speakers “might get a necklace” as an honorarium, according to one organizer. LifeWay Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board underwrite much of the funding necessary to rent the space and cover travel expenses of outside speakers.

The session was opened in prayer by one of the most experienced women’s ministry leaders in the country, Barbara O’Chester of Wake Forest, N.C., with Kathy Litton, national director of the North American Mission Board’s ministry to pastors’ wives, closing the session with a guided prayer applying the principles taught on behalf of preacher’s kids.

A triathalon competitor, Litton told of training at the YMCA where “the water’s real smooth, you can put your foot down when you get tired and hang onto the side.” In sharp contrast, the actual race held in Gulf Shores, Ala., was her first experience of swimming in the ocean.

“I was never a pastor’s wife until I was in a race,” Litton said. “Talking about being a pastor’s wife is like being in the lap pool at the YMCA. Being a pastor’s wife is like being in the ocean with salt water and lots of people. There’s not a good way to train for what we’re doing. You have to get in the water to figure out what’s going to happen when we get there.”

She encouraged wives of ministers to check out NAMB’s online resource at as well as for pastors’ wives and other women serving in ministry. A Facebook page labeled Pastor’s Wives of the Southern Baptist Convention provides information on the annual gathering and related resources.

SBC makes history with first black president

NEW ORLEANS—Wiping away tears, Fred Luter Jr. faced messengers on Tuesday after becoming the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, a group formed in 1845 as a split with northern Baptists over slavery, and uttered,  “To God be the glory for the things he has done. God bless you. I love you.”

Luter, who helped grow a church of 65 people into the 5,000-member Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, was unopposed and elected by acclamation of the convention's  messengers, who are chosen to represent local churches at the annual meeting.

David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church of New Orleans, said in his nomination speech to those gathered at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in downtown New Orleans, “We need Pastor Fred at the head of the table helping us understand our mission field and our mission.”

In electing Luter, Southern Baptists would “make history, to show a watching world” about the savior, Crosby said.

After casting the vote on behalf of messengers, SBC Recording Secretary John Yeats uttered a robust “Hallelujuh!” to the applause of messengers, most of whom were on their feet.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Luter lost his home to floodwaters, the campus of Franklin Avenue Baptist was devastated under eight feet of water, and members were scattered elsewhere.

The congregation rallied behind Luter’s leadership and by early 2006 was holding services elsewhere in New Orleans and for dispersed members in Houston and Baton Rouge. The church re-opened its Franklin Avenue campus with renovations in 2008.

Luter is married to Elizabeth and is the father of Kimberly and Fred “Chip” Luter III.

A fuller version of this story will appear later at

3 views of church-state relations explained

Historically, governments have taken one of three approaches to church-state relations, according to Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land. In his book “The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives are Missing in the God and Country Shouting Match!” he labels the approaches avoidance, acknowledgment and accommodation.

AVOIDANCE: According to this view, all recognition of the church should be removed from government, creating a secular society as in modern France.

John Wilsey, assistant professor of history and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston, said many who champion “separation of church and state” espouse the avoidance view. Yet neither the majority of America’s Founding Fathers nor its early religious dissenters—including Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists—held this perspective, he said.

Early American dissenters “knew that a separation of church and state, a wall of separation would eventually lead to a limiting of government as well as religion,” said Wilsey, author of “One Nation Under God? An Evangelical Critique of Christian America.” Under the avoidance view, “government can’t say anything or do anything to acknowledge religion, and the church can’t do anything at all in the public square, which inhibits religious freedom.”

Some believe avoidance is necessary to accommodate the broad variety of religious convictions in America today. But there is a better way, according to Wilsey.

Most Americans assume “separation of church and state” is “what the Founders intended from the very beginning,” he said. “And certainly some did. Thomas Jefferson favored that. But in terms of the religious dissenters who gained us religious freedom during the Revolutionary period and shortly thereafter, that was not really the intent.”

In terms of Baptists, Land in a 2008 speech at Criswell College, quoted Roger Williams, an early American Baptist writing decades before the Constitution was drafted, that there must be a “wall of separation” to keep the “wilderness of the world” from encroaching upon the “garden of the church.”      

Later, that “wall of separation” language made its way into Thomas Jefferson’s famous 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, defending the Baptists’ from oppression as a religious minority in Connecticut. Yet Land said Jefferson obviously didn’t intend for a radical “separation” like that championed by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union or Americans United.

Land told the Criswell audience that if Jefferson had intended that government avoid religious expression in its domain, it is curious that Jefferson, the Sunday after penning his famous letter to the Danbury Baptists, attended Sunday worship services in the U.S. House of Representatives chamber led by his friend John Leland, a Baptist pastor from Connecticut.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This view argues that government should affirm a majority religion, as with the government of Iran affirming Islam.

“The problem with that is that it’s going to deny religious freedom to anyone who doesn’t hold [the officially recognized] view, anybody who’s not subscribed to that religion that’s acknowledged by the state,” Wilsey said. “You cannot have true religious freedom in a state that has an established church, or even an acknowledged church.”

Though America did not have an official state church, Protestantism served as a de facto state religion until the second half of the 20th century, he said. This resulted in groups like Mormons, Roman Catholics and adherents of Native American religions being persecuted and having their religious freedoms impinged, Wilsey said.

Speaking at Criswell, Land said of this, “The last thing we as Baptists should want is government-sponsored religion. Government-sponsored religion is like getting a hug from a python.”

ACCOMMODATION: According to this view, all religious perspectives should be respected by government and citizens should understand the value of religion in America’s past, present and future. Religiously informed moral values should inform public policy discussions under the accommodation view.

Accommodation “is the ideal situation and certainly the intent in the First Amendment,” Wilsey said.
In early America, religious dissenters were highly involved in politics, arguing for their right to practice their faith without persecution and allowing their religion to inform their political views in the public square, he said.

“The government did not see that as a threat,” Wilsey said of the dissenters’ political involvement. “The government of course welcomed this. So I think that model that we had at the very beginning was the model we ought to try to recover today.”

Land said the accommodation position most closely honors the American Founders’ intent and historic Baptist principles.

“The accommodation position would say, ‘If the people in the community want to have a manger scene on the courthouse lawn, then they ought to be allowed to collect the money and buy a manger scene and the government should accommodate their wish by allowing its display at the appropriate Christmas time, and they should provide police protection for it and the lighting for it and possibly even the storage for it during the Christmas season,” Land explained.

“But that also means that if there are Jewish people in the community and they want to have a Menorah scene at the appropriate time in the Jewish calendar, then they ought to be able to have a Menorah celebrating Judaism as well. And if there are Muslims in that community, then at the appropriate time they ought to be allowed to display a Muslim scene. Accommodation means the government is an umpire. And the government makes sure that everybody plays fair.”

—With reporting by Jerry Pierce

Thoughts offered on patriotic services

Randall Bales will never forget the day Abraham Lincoln showed up for worship on the Fourth of July at University Baptist Church in San Antonio. “No one knew he was coming, so we started the service like we normally would,” recalled the pastor. He had arranged for impersonator John Voehl to walk in from the back of the auditorium, offering a first-person account of his spiritual journey.

“His premise was that during the period of 1863 when [the outcome of] Gettysburg was uncertain, that Lincoln had a moment when he gave his life to Christ,” Bales recalled.

“Now, of course, a lot of that’s supposition, but that’s the premise in the testimony and he talked about prayer and being a leader relying on God. It was a wonderful weaving together of historical references in the Civil War era to the relationship one can have in Christ, so it had an evangelistic focus as well as patriotic and really worked out well.”

As the July 4 holiday approaches, Southern Baptist churches in Texas are finding creative ways to celebrate their freedom in Christ and the price that was paid for religious freedom in America.

At Houston’s Fallbrook Church, Boy Scout Troop 272 will post colors on the Sunday prior to July 4 and then members will sing the “Star Spangled Banner” as the American flag is waved.

Executive Pastor Olus R. Holder Jr. cited Romans 13 to reference God having ordained all governments as a rationale for the patriotic emphasis.

“God has ordained the United States of America to be a bearer of the gospel. We’re the beacon light for Christianity,” Holder told the TEXAN. While the Fourth of July represents freedom, he said, “From a church perspective, Jesus Christ is our spiritual freedom,” a concept the church will emphasize in the midst of the celebration.

At Northside Baptist Church in Highlands, the Sunday nearest the Fourth of July is an opportunity to “thank God for the good things about our country and speak out against the moral failings of our country,” stated Pastor David Brumbelow.

Brumbelow finds it strange that a practice he has seen in church all his life is now “vehemently challenged,” describing some “fretting over a patriotic service causing confusion over our allegiance to Christ and to our country.”

When his comments appeared last year in his “Gulf Coast Pastor” blog, all but one of those commenting were in agreement. But when the remarks were republished at “SBC Voices,” the contentious discussion that followed covered over 40 pages of posts.

“It seems that like the ‘public invitation’ and using the ‘sinner’s prayer,’ most criticism of having a patriotic worship service is more a criticism of the abuse, rather than the proper use of them,” Brumbelow wrote.

Brumbelow said it is easy to use an American cultural theme like Thanksgiving to teach Christian concepts to international students. “They can see believers praying for their country, striving to better their country,” he said, believing they’ll be inspired to do the same when returning to their own countries.

Sometimes the presence of national and state flags in a worship service can be confusing for visitors from other countries, shared Emi Millard, a member of Nassau Bay Baptist Church.

Several years ago her church prominently displayed an over-sized American flag during a Fourth of July service, prompting questions from Japanese visitors. Coming from a nation where the flag symbolizes worship of the emperor, the Christian couple found it troubling.

Millard explained the intent of celebrating “a nation founded by people who wanted to follow God freely,” easing the visitors’ concerns.

“It’s not about political correctness, but just being sensitive if you have international congregations,” she cautioned. “We can get so caught up in our excitement about being Americans that we forget to celebrate with humility and thankfulness.”

The daughter of a Japanese mother and American father, Millard moved to the U.S. to begin her college education at a Baptist school.

“This is a country that was born for independence. We never had a king or a dictator. We should teach the kids that these are freedoms we ought to be honoring and acknowledging,” she added.

The pastor of a Vietnamese congregation in a large Texas city is grateful for the freedom to worship in America. He travels to Vietnam often to preach and teach, but must minister within the restrictions of a communist government that registers churches.

And yet among his own congregation, he finds different opinions regarding patriotic celebrations. “Most don’t want to mix it with church. They consider that political and something personal you do at home,” he said.

Among the first wave of Vietnamese refugees fleeing persecution in 1975, a strong anti-communist perspective dominates, while those coming to America in the last five to 10 years have mixed feelings on such issues, he said. With so many community observances available on the Fourth of July, the church prefers to keep the focus on Christ, he said.

Francis Calimbahin, pastor of Caprock Church in Arlington, will use the upcoming Fourth of July to remind the multicultural congregation of the persecution of believers around the world. Although he immigrated from the Philippines over 20 years ago, most members are either first- or second-generation immigrants and include Hispanics, Africans, Puerto-Ricans, and Vietnamese.

“They are very American and understand freedom and the sacrifice people made,” Calimbahin said, adding that he finds no hesitation among the congregation to celebrate a patriotic holiday from a Christian perspective.

David Toledo, associate pastor of worship and creative arts at First Baptist Church of Keller, said he finds the Psalms to be full of references that give evidence for recognizing God’s blessings and commands in national matters.

“We need to provide our congregation the opportunity to thank God for his provisions for our nation and reaffirm our commitment to him,” he said, “but there is a delicate balance to be found.”

While God and country are synonymous for many people, Toledo finds that view coming out of popular culture and not the Bible. “It is far too easy to fall into the trap of sentimentality and lose sight of the purpose of our worship services.”

He designs worship services focused on God and his work of salvation through Christ. On national holidays like Independence Day and Veteran’s Day, he includes appropriate Scripture references and emphasizes hymns such as “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” or “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

When singing “America the Beautiful” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” Toledo makes sure the congregation sings more than just the first stanza as secular gatherings would do.

“Many of our patriotic songs have stanzas that are directed towards God explicitly, so I use them as an opportunity to teach our congregation and facilitate our worship services.”

He said he stays away from “God Bless the USA” and “God Bless America,” citing what he said is a lack of depth needed for worship services. “I never want my congregation to focus on our nation and lose sight of God,” he insisted.

Special concerts and other events outside of Sunday morning worship can provide an appropriate time to emphasize patriotism musically, Toledo suggested. “This allows our congregation to express the appreciation in a way that doesn’t take away from the corporate worship experience.”

A separate patriotic event that draws the community often lends itself to an evangelistic opportunity.

“Anytime you’ve got a big group of people at church, no matter what it is—share the gospel somehow,” reminded Jack Harris, personal evangelism associate at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “Make it fit. Be culturally adaptive,” he advised, recalling that the apostle Paul used secular occasions to preach Christ.

“The greatest freedom in the world is freedom in Christ,” he said. “It’s not a tricky thing to make that application. People try and make it much more complicated than it is.”

He suggests the church host a picnic near the Fourth of July and use the occasion to invite friends and neighbors of members. The pastor can get up, take about 10 minutes and share the gospel.

In her latest “Fresh Ideas” column, Baptist writer Diana Davis of Indiana offers other suggestions to churches celebrating the Fourth of July:

—If your church has a great view of local fireworks, post an outdoor sign inviting neighbors to bring lawn chairs and enjoy them there. As church members serve watermelon and sodas, they visit with guests and invite them for worship on Sunday.

—Plan a fun, small-townish kids’ parade for your community. Get permission to block the street in front of the church, or stage the parade route in the parking lot. Advertise it everywhere, and be sure to create a Facebook event so members can invite friends.

—Invite community leaders to attend a Christian Citizenship Sunday worship service. Ask them to arrive early at the pastor’s office for prayer and seating instructions. During the worship service, introduce them and invite church members to stand to indicate they’ll continue to pray for the leaders.

—Take a moment during worship to invite worshipers to kneel and ask God’s blessings on our country.

—Print a list of government leaders, from school board members to the president of the United States. Invite church members to select a leader, send an encouraging note, and commit to pray for that leader this year.

Christian Americans in a pluralistic society

Barry Creamer’s advice to Christians navigating an increasingly pluralistic America is found in 1 Timothy 2:2, where the apostle Paul urges his readers to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

Such a framework allows for freedom of conscience, which should be the ideal in a government system where Baptist Christians can live out their calling, he said.

Amid other Christian groups, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a variety of pagan and atheistic Americans, the 1 Timothy 2 prayer is mostly in effect here—even as challenges to religious liberty loom, said Creamer, professor of humanities and vice president for academic affairs at Criswell College and the host of a call-in radio show in Dallas called “For Christ and Culture.”

“We don’t even necessarily need a government occupied by Christians. We just need a government that doesn’t hinder Christianity’s practice,” Creamer said.

“Now, would it be desirable to have only political leaders who are Christians? Yes—if they actually lived it out. The more Christians you have in any vocation, the better off society is, but restricting it to Christians would be a huge mistake and a violation of the freedom of conscience, which is what we really want in a society that is compatible with Christianity. We want freedom of conscience.”

While America is not a “Christian nation” per se, Creamer argued, America has an undeniable cultural heritage rooted in Judeo-Christian morality. That is what most people mean when they speak of America being a Christian nation, he said.

“You get a whole variety of answers to that question based on what you are talking about when you say ‘Christian nation.’”

“The idea, for example, that you could have a uniquely Shiite community in the United States would be completely different because their community standards would be a violation of everyone else’s freedom of conscience. So again, I think the whole measure is freedom of conscience. … The laws apply to everyone and it has to allow for freedom of conscience.”

Craig Mitchell, chair of the ethics department and associate director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the TEXAN that America is best understood not as a Christian nation technically, but as a nation with a distinctly Christian identity. From that Christian identity flows the liberties Christians and all other Americans enjoy, he said.

Mitchell cited the late Harvard University professor Samuel P. Huntington as writing that most countries have a core or mainstream culture with subordinate subcultures. America’s foundational culture has been an Anglo Protestant culture, Mitchell said.

Again citing Huntington, Mitchell said America, without that dominant Anglo Protestant culture that built it, would instead resemble Quebec, Mexico or Brazil.

“Most people, when you ask them, would say they are Christian,” Mitchell said. “That doesn’t mean they are born-again believers. But they identify with Christianity.”

All other religions account for less than 10 percent, he said.

“We must take every opportunity to evangelize but we should also give others room to practice their faith,” Mitchell said. “That does not mean we should allow Sharia law, for example. But what that does mean is we realize there are saved and lost people, and we must allow them room to be wrong. We have to give them room, show the love of Christ when we can, and give them the gospel when we can.
“That does not mean we have to help a Muslim group build a mosque, but it means we don’t go to war with them over it either,” Mitchell added.

Separation or Intended Mixture?

In the book “One Nation Under God? An Evangelical Critique of Christian America,” by Southwestern Seminary’s John D. Wilsey, he cites writers popular in evangelical circles over the last 35 years—Presbyterians Peter Marshall and D. James Kennedy, Baptists such as Tim LaHaye and Jerry Falwell, and Pentecostal David Barton—as proponents of what Wilsey calls the “Christian America” thesis (CA).

This view, using gathered quotations from sources dating from Columbus to the early American pilgrims, the Puritans, the Founding Fathers and their successors, generally casts America as founded as a Christian nation with a government, at the least, giving favored status to Christianity.

Overwhelmingly, they argue for a return to “original intent,” meaning what they would deem a return to explicitly Christian principles in government oversight and law.

Barton and fellow Texan Rick Scarborough, a former Southern Baptist pastor, have been among those who have challenged the separation of church and state concept—long held as a Baptist distinctive.
Roger Williams, founder of the first Baptist church in North America, in Rhode Island, used the “wall of separation” language to speak of a hedge to keep the “wilderness of the world” from encroaching into the “garden of the church.” Nearly a century later Thomas Jefferson borrowed the term in his famous 1802 letter to ease the concerns of the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut of a rumored tightening of religious liberty.

Barton expounded on his views in his 1994 book “The Myth of Separation,” as did Scarborough in “Enough is Enough,” published in 2008, and a booklet called “Mixing Church and State God’s Way.”

In “Enough is Enough” Scarborough wrote: “When the Supreme Court justices ruled that the Constitution erected a ‘wall of separation’ between church and state, they lied. … The framers of our Constitution never erected such a wall. In fact, we have demonstrated that they saw the necessity for a union to exist between church and state, without which there could be no morality.”

Wilsey cites Barton’s use of an 1892 Supreme Court ruling, Holy Trinity v. United States, in which the court called explicitly called America a “Christian nation” based on what it termed a line of “organic utterances” dating from Columbus until that day. Barton also traces court decisions from 1824 up to as late as 1931 that cite America as Christian in nature.

But in Everson v. Board of Education (1947), Barton says a new line of thinking emerged as the court appealed to Jefferson’s “wall of separation” language from his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists.

Barton and LaHaye, a Southern Baptist, and other CA proponents have argued that for 150 years the government upheld Christianity as the preferred religion.

Baptists who argue for a separation of church and state and those who call for a return to what they deem the intended mixture of Christianity and state seem to agree on at least one thing: Secularism’s onslaught has threatened religious liberty, particularly for orthodox Christians.

The sticking point seems be the question, “What should patriotic Christian Americans do about it?”
Southern Seminary’s theology dean, Russell Moore, wrote in an essay for the book “Why I Am a Baptist,” that a renewed interest in Baptist confessionalism should revitalize a commitment to church-state separation.

Given a “biblical vision of the church” and avoiding fear on one hand and the “ultimate answer to the culture wars” with elections on the other, “we will engage the culture politically and theologically, but we will also demonstrate kingdom-righteousness within the walls of our churches. We will submit to the governing authorities even as we wait for the One who will come, not to praise Caesar but to bury him,” Moore wrote.

Criswell College’s Creamer commented: “I think the fundamental issue there is when Christians act out of fear rather than confidence in the gospel, then we start thinking we need to use power or policy in order to impose Christianity rather than promote a free society where we can put Christianity in the free marketplace of ideas.”

“Again, I think what we are supposed to pray for and therefore work for is a society with a free conscience. I think that’s what 1 Timothy 2’s prayer equates to—a society that allows us to live with a free conscience.”

Activists: Contend for liberty with grace

Religious freedom is often termed the “first freedom.” All other liberties are derived from it, said Jeff Mateer, attorney for the Plano-based Liberty Institute and member of Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall. Baptists, who Mateer said have a rich history in championing the cause of religious liberty and the right of conscience, must confront attacks on those liberties with boldness, but with graciousness.

Baptist revolutionary patriots, and later, civil rights leaders proclaimed freedom in Christ and liberty from tyranny. But, Mateer charged, over the past three decades those liberties have been ceded, bit by bit, in the name of convenience and a desire to get along.

He said that has brought the country to a crucial tipping point in which the very concept of religious liberty is challenged. A recent example is the Supreme Court’s March hearings on the constitutionality of the federal healthcare law. That legislation requires religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for birth control, abortifacients and sterilization, forcing those institutions to subordinate their religious convictions to legislative dictates.

Mateer explained why religious liberty is the lynchpin that holds all the others in place.

“If the government can invade what you believe at the most personal level—if it can dictate to you the most personal question—it can invade everything.”

“All freedom is derived from God,” Mateer said. “There would be no freedom without that freedom.”
But how Christians respond to assaults on their faith and religious liberties can have a significant influence, maybe not in the courtroom, but in the hearts of those opposed to Christ, Mateer said.

Randy White, pastor of First Baptist Church of Katy, recalled two situations six years ago in his community west of Houston stemming from displeasure with a growing Muslim population. A local Muslim association purchased 11 acres of land to build a mosque and community center. The adjoining landowner raised pigs, animals deemed unclean in Islam. The pig owner, in response to a perceived affront, began holding pig races on his property on Friday evenings during the Muslim call to prayer.

White said the landowner was not acting in a Christlike way. Still, he said he shared the concerns of some in the community over the influence of Islam in Katy. At that time White was a member of a local ministerial alliance and said he was taken aback when the group began hosting interfaith prayer meetings that included the imams.

“That was a group of Christian pastors who wanted peace and happiness among people of all faiths,” White said.

The efforts, he thought, put Islam on par with Christianity.

“Faith needs to be sectarian. It has to have its defined lines,” White said.

To blur those lines is to renounce the distinctiveness of the gospel. That is why White left the alliance and turned down a recent invitation to attend groundbreaking ceremonies for the new mosque.

“We sometimes have to make decisions on a public scale that will offend,” he said.

On the other hand, although White believes Islam is a false religion at odds with Christianity, he said he would defend a Muslim’s right to express his beliefs.

“Baptists’ principle of religious liberty is that there is religious liberty for all. We have to protect the religious liberty of others.”

Barry Creamer, vice president for academic affairs and professor of humanities at Criswell College in Dallas, said Christians must be “good neighbors,” especially to non-Christians and immigrant groups. And not merely for evangelistic purposes, he said.

“It’s the right thing to do morally, to treat everyone with respect, regardless of whether they are Christian or not. At the point where their demands violate their respect for us, then that’s a different question,” Creamer added.

Civil disobedience has been part of some religious liberty battles in American history. But should Christians, who are called to obey the authorities placed over them by God, defy those authorities?
“I believe, ‘Yes.’ These types of things are worth fighting for,” Mateer said.

But Christians should be certain of the Holy Spirit’s leading and understand the potential consequences of their acts, he warned. Mateer cited Peter and John’s refusal to abide by the Roman command to cease preaching. Their defiance landed them in jail. Jewish leadership challenged Paul’s freedom to preach as well. Instead of confronting his opponents directly, Paul famously responded, “I appeal to Rome.”

But what if it is the court itself that stands at odds with religious liberty?

Grayson Glass, Galveston Baptist Association director emeritus of missions, said he recalled two cases in which local judges tried to stymie the prayers of high school students in Texas. In 2011, just days before Medina Valley High School valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand was to give her commencement speech in which she planned to offer a prayer “in Jesus’ name,” U.S. District Judge Fred Biery invoked a temporary restraining order barring her words that referenced God.

In a similar 2000 case in Santa Fe, Texas, a judge ordered the cessation of invocations before the start of high school football games. The case was brought to court by two anonymous complainants who appealed to the separation of church and state.

Glass said he has little tolerance for the stifling of religious expression in the public square.

“No one has the right to tell me what I can and cannot do with my religion,” he said.

And though he believes Christianity to be exclusively true, Glass said he understands the constitutional liberties he enjoys protect all religious expression.

The Liberty Institute was called in by Hildenbrand’s father to try the case and won in time for her to give her speech in her own words. But if they had not, Glass said it would have been acceptable for the valedictorian to defy the judge’s order despite biblical mandates to the contrary.

“I don’t think [the judge] has the authority to do that according to our Constitution. I think sometimes we have to do that kind of thing [civil disobedience] to call attention to it.”

But how Christians “push back” when confronted by often-hostile attempts to squelch religious liberties is just as important as the fight to maintain those freedoms, Mateer emphasized.

“Our reaction is to want to fight back,” he said. “I’m not going to be weak on the issues and I’m going to fight like crazy. But in doing so I’m not going to tear down my opponent.”

The Liberty Institute, formerly the Free Market Foundation, is a non-profit law firm “dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America,” according to its website.

As general counsel for the past two and half years and a volunteer with the organization before that, Mateer has been in countless meetings in which enmity toward Christians is palpable.

“We’re in rooms with people who literally think we are crazy.”

He said the characterization of Christians as “zealots” with a “hidden agenda” ready to foist a theocratic regime upon unsuspecting Americans is endured time and again by him and his fellow Liberty attorneys.

A case in point: Roman Catholic Diocese, et. Al. vs. The City of Austin, in which the city ordered crisis pregnancy centers to post signs at the entrances of their facilities, in English and Spanish, stating, “This center does not provide abortions or refer to abortion providers. This center does not provide or refer to providers of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved birth control drugs and medical devices.”  

The city argued the importance of the message on the signs trumped the centers’ right to free speech in defining their services.   

Mateer said counsel for the city was ardently pro-abortion and viewed the Liberty attorneys with disdain simply because of their faith and stand on abortion. But despite abrasive rhetoric and rude characterizations, Mateer said he had to remember to view his adversaries as Jesus would.

“I have to remember that the people opposing us are lost sinners.”

His goal with each case is not to react to hateful, illogical arguments with equally destructive language but to act graciously and professionally. In the end, his actions speak louder than his opponents preconceived ideas of Christians. Though their hearts were not changed, Mateer said he believes the Austin attorneys left the court battle with a greater respect for the Liberty attorneys simply because of how they behaved.

Criswell College blogger Winston Hottman warns, “There is nothing in our Constitution or body of laws that guarantees the prominent, culture-shaping role of Christianity in America. Inherent to our form of government is the very real possibility that Christianity will cease to play the part that it has played historically,” he said, adding that increased religious diversity will make the nation’s religious identity less “Christian.”

“The table of public discourse is an increasingly crowded one. Baptists have known what it means to be banned from the table,” Hottman said. “While we currently enjoy our place at the table, let’s remember our past and the importance of religious freedom and make sure there are plenty of open seats for the newcomers.”

Profs: Reconstruction not a Baptist idea

Often when biblical morality is advocated in the public square, the more radical of those who hold the “avoidance” position on church-state matters (for a definition, see story on page 9) warn of a creeping theocractic agenda among conservative Christians.

Historically, Baptists have been among the most vocal supporters of church-state separation. The Baptist Faith & Message article on religious liberty states clearly: “Church and state should be separate.”

But whether the protests come from liberal Baptists or secularist groups, the theocracy charge is promptly utilized, based on the views of a small minority of self-proclaimed Christian reconstructionists, some who seek Mosiac law for the United States.

Mark Coppenger, Southern Seminary’s vice president for extension education and professor of Christian apologetics, told the TEXAN in an email: “Unfortunately, some of those who oppose any acknowledgement of America’s special, continuing debt to its Judeo-Christian heritage (including the ‘Sundays excepted’ clause in the Constitution’s Article I, Section 7) like to slap the pejorative labels ‘dominionist’ and ‘theocratic’ on citizens who adopt a more nuanced view of the issue. It’s like shouting ‘racist’ or ‘homophobe’ as a substitute for serious, respectful discussion.”  

Coppenger said there are “some genuinely scary Christian ideologues out there who advocate the death penalty for idolaters, homosexuals, blasphemers, and even rebellious children. Some, such as the late R.J. Rushdoony, speak of the ‘heresy of democracy.’” By their light, if it was good enough for Moses in Sinai, it’s good enough for Iowa.

But Coppenger said they are rare.

“Yes, you can get red meat from Gary North, Gary DeMar, and Greg Bahnsen, but there are more moderate voices who, to one extent or another, could be called ‘theonomist’ (‘God’ plus ‘law’) or ‘reconstructionist.’ And their approaches come in many flavors, some more libertarian, some more authoritarian. Common among them is the belief that the Bible properly supplants ‘the consent of the governed’ as the source of civil law and it would be ideal if Christians were the ones who ran things.”

Barry Creamer, academic affairs vice president and humanities professor at Criswell College, said Christians and non-Christians who lack a nuanced view of religious liberty tend toward a “false dichotomy or a polarity that is not real, which is either the nation is going to be secular humanist or Muslim, or it’s going to be my preacher who gets elected president, and therefore everyone has to become a Christian.”

“I actually think that’s what people criticize when they disdain the Moral Majority movement of the 80s,” Creamer said. “They think the Moral Majority wanted a mandatory Christian state—a state that required people to be Christians. Which is absurd. You end up with this picture of reconstructionists as Christians and anti-theists on the other half of the political spectrum. Then you have these core people in the middle who just want to live out their faith. I want to live out my faith and I want to promote living in a state that allows me to live out my faith. That does take a more nuanced view.”

Russell Moore, theology dean at Southern Seminary, in an essay for the book “Why I Am a Baptist,” said the “next generation of Baptist conservatives may have fewer moderates labeling them as threats to religious liberty, but they will have the secular culture even more eager to do so.”

Moore said far-right fringe groups “do not represent Baptist confessionalism, but secular onlookers often have neither the theological understanding nor the inclination to make such distinctions. To them, Christian orthodoxy means political oppression.”

As for the Christian reconstructionists, Coppenger said “anyone who’s been through church and denominational conflicts has a hard time waxing post-millennial over rule by saints. Universal fallenness and finitude make our Constitution’s system of checks and balances, including the play of non-believers, look mighty good.”

“Besides,” he added, “don’t Romans 2:14-15 and the witness of natural law give us cause to believe we can work cooperatively with ‘Gentiles’ on matters of public policy? Of course, the toxic nonsense advanced by the radical separationists can drive one toward theonomy, but crusading, exclusive biblicism in the public square goes very wrong. Didn’t we learn that in Massachusetts Bay Colony?”

First Person: Patriotic hymns can honor God

I was startled to see the rifles wielded by the local ROTC students as they marched down the aisle of my home church in 1970. Turned out the guns weren’t loaded, but my familiarity with firearms was too limited to have known the difference. Garnering the prized position as the American flag bearer for the annual Vacation Bible School processional was one thing, but unleashing an unexpected unit of soldiers-in-training as part of the morning worship service seemed a bit much at the time.

In the cultural context of America’s Vietnam era, our church set in a university town had some who viewed the inclusion of patriotic music as a defense of military intervention during an unpopular war. Still, the majority of the crowd tearfully sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” grandly accompanied by a pipe organ.

Penned by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe, a Unitarian who wrote the lyrics for federal troops in 1861 at her pastor’s suggestion, the words “mine eyes have seen the glory” was a Union battle cry. But that didn’t prevent Robert Coleman of First Baptist Dallas from including it in his Popular Hymnal in 1918, extending the tune’s circulation among Southern Baptists.

Just as I look forward to the incorporation of Christmas carols in worship services each December, the Fourth of July often prompts the singing of patriotic songs I enjoy like “America the Beautiful,” “God of Our Fathers,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” or even “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Many who plan music for our services would wince at including anything so secular, concerned that the focus must remain on the worship of God, not the concerns of man. Certainly, we’d find the Marines Hymn theologically flawed with its belief that “if the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven’s scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.” I bet there’s a church in Texas that rationalizes singing Lee Greenwood’s more recently composed song “God Bless the U.S.A.” in light of the terror of little more than a decade ago.

The “love it or leave it” sentiment expressed the ‘70s and the renewed patriotism post 9/11 should be tempered among believers with a Great Commission heart that yearns to see our religious liberty extended to all people—wherever they live. We need to be careful when our patriotic zeal causes us to question why anyone would leave the freedom we enjoy to carry the gospel to people who hate or mistrust Americans.

If the selection of worship music really is all about the words we sing, then a holiday theme can be productive. “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” doesn’t just proclaim a love of God’s creation in our geographic borders, it reminds us of the Author of liberty to whom we sing and honor as our King. “America the Beautiful” reminds us of the mission of those who traveled to America in search of freedom and begs for God’s grace in dealing with the flawed nature of man that requires “liberty in law.”

While most churches will have to forgo the trumpet fanfare I enjoyed as a child when singing “God of our Fathers,” the hymn credits God with providing an “ever sure defense.” It was composed for America’s centennial at a time when most who sang it had endured the Civil War and needed the reassurance that “in this free land by thee our lot is cast.”

Sports fans only sing the first stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but the fourth verse of our national anthem praises “the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation” and reminds us to be sure that our cause is just, declaring “in God is our trust!”

So when the thoughts of our citizens are turned toward our nation’s freedom, how about giving them something to sing about by honoring God through a patriotic hymn?

Our Christian heritage

Is America a Christian nation? It’s a lively conversation in which we spend a lot of time defining terms and extrapolating from the comments of our nation’s Founders. This is not a yes/no question. Still, I’m going to plant my flag with the “yes” side as long as you’ll let me explain.

Have you ever been in a place where much of the conversation takes place in a language you don’t understand? You might get a lot from context so that you know that the people are talking about auto repair rather than animal husbandry but you miss a lot of the details. If you have a basic understanding of the language spoken but are not proficient, you get a bit more but still miss the humor, nuance and subtleties of the conversation. You have a child’s understanding of what is going on. That seems to me to be a good metaphor for American citizens who have no basic familiarity with the Christian Bible. Our laws, art, literature, theatre, figures of speech, and customs are completely mixed with concepts from the Bible. You can be an engaged part of the American conversation having never read a word of the Koran or Book of Mormon, but you are a novice American if you do not know anything of the Book upon which Western civilization is significantly based.

Furthermore, even the nut of truth found in non-Christian worldviews has its source in the God who made us. Ignorant people talk as if the enlightenment of human reason has no source. Why do you think mathematics works or gravity functions in some predictable way? Our Maker is a rationale person who reveals himself in an ordered and purposeful creation. The fact that we can discern some of that is wonderful but the ability is not something we invented. Neither is the interaction between the various elements within creation that we study so diligently something for which we can take credit.

Enlightenment? Sure, our Founders were children of their day. They were optimistic about man’s ability to discover how the universe worked. Optimism has its source in the God who reveals himself, who approves of progress and who made man like himself in important ways. And light always has a source, doesn’t it?

Those most offended by the fact that our nation is a melting pot of cultures overwhelmingly based on Christian assumptions are those who are most offended by the gospel. Groups like the Interfaith Alliance or Americans United just disdain the biblical practice of Christianity. Their piecemeal efforts, in concert with more honest atheist groups, to purge our culture of references to Christianity are disastrous. You cannot purge a culture of a worldview that is arguably religious; you can only switch one religion for another. Name it what you like but the pale universalism of liberal Christians and the materialism of atheists both have the essential elements of religion—just not those of Christianity. For an illustration of a religiously atheist state, feast your eyes on the Soviet Union or People’s Republic of North Korea. For an example of the current state of Christian liberalism, toss a dart toward the map of Western Europe. I don’t see anything we want in any of those places.  

We are not a Christian nation in the sense that the Bible should be our law book or that God is our king. That has been tried many times over the centuries and it does not work. It cannot work unless God has chosen a people, given them a system of laws, and determined to guide them in detail. That nation is not the United States of America. Our own American experiment to build Jerusalem in New England’s green and pleasant land was a bit hard on Baptists and other dissenters. State religion always, always, always results in corrupt religion and bad governance. Show me an example of a truly state church and I’ll not show you a nativity scene on a court house lawn but rather cemeteries or prisons or stocks or whipping posts occupied by people who merely disagreed.

Neither does our Christian heritage imply that professing Christians should be, by definition, preferred as leaders. A president or governor with a credible Christian testimony can be a great blessing to those he governs, to the degree that he daily fears the God who appointed him to the office. And, I’d add, to the degree that he knows how to do the job. We’ve weathered for years and without complaint leaders who checked a box “Christian” but meant it only in the, I’m-not-a Buddhist-or-Moslem way. We elected them because we believed them to be the best candidate being offered. It’s silly to vote for an otherwise unqualified candidate because we like his denomination (remember Jimmy Carter?), or to reject one because we find his religion, though not his viewpoints, strange.

Our Christian heritage implies a few things. First, we have a place to start that many other nations do not. Of course we are less devout culturally than our great grandparents, but the influence of our heritage makes us an exceptional country for this day. Rather than argue about Thomas Jefferson’s faith, we can build on the remaining influence of biblical Christianity in our day to encourage mercy and justice in our communities. Some of the ways in which Christianity is built into the structure of our culture can help people recognize the gospel when our churches or neighbors tell the rest of the story.

Second, it implies a stewardship. In Acts 16:37 and elsewhere Paul called on his Roman citizenship as a way to further the gospel. Peter didn’t have that card to play; neither did most of that first generation of Christians. We live in a country where Christianity is not only tolerated but freely exercised and relatively familiar. As a part of that heritage, we also have the freedom to exercise the full rights of citizens. We can, so we should do. An American-citizen-Christian who can but does not vote is not only an ungrateful citizen but a disobedient Christian, I think. Not only that, I’d go on to say that Christians who do not attempt be informed values voters are also missing the admonition to be salt and light in a nation in which we have an amazing amount of influence.

Third, it implies that the liberty we experience here should never be limited to Christians. It is in our best interest—we who come from a tradition where our spiritual ancestors were persecuted for preaching without permission—to ensure that no man, nor our government, should attempt to coerce the conscience of any man. Christianity is the source of our principles but should not be the legally preferred religion of our nation. One of the most likely challenges we will see in our lifetimes is the move on the part of our government to provide tolerance of specified religious practice rather than liberty. Tolerance has parameters. You can believe what you like but perhaps one day you will not be allowed to preach or teach certain biblical precepts. Worship as you wish but you cannot run your business according to your doctrine. That is exactly the question at issue with the contraceptive mandate being forced on religious institutions by our department of Health and Human Services. When a person or entity can grant or withhold religious freedoms, “liberty” is no longer the right word for our condition.

Friends, it sounds sometimes as though we believe there is a legal remedy for the spiritual condition our nation. There is not. Yes, there is often a legal remedy for injustice or certain sorts of immorality. And I agree that some righteous things are worth fighting to preserve, families to name just one. Our nation is made up of people, some Christian as we would define it, and most not. Our nation can become more or less “Christian” according to who our people are—more Christians equals more “Christian.” Our culture is indeed based on Christianity because of the role the Bible played in defining Anglo-Saxon customs, and American customs specifically. Our laws are influenced by Christianity but there is no one-to-one correlation between biblical precepts and the laws of our land. Our government is not Christian, nor should it be, even if a large number of Christians serve in leadership positions. We have never given our government the right to determine religious doctrine or dole out permission for religious practice. Our government is in place to protect the rights we already recognize as the inherent possession of all men.

As I hinted at earlier, I think we spend too much time trying to guess at what our Founders thought in their private minds. I love history a lot; and the best way to enjoy history is to read the stories of those who lived through significant events. I enjoy the insights that we get into the hearts of those important people who’ve gone before. But it is their deeds that become most significant for the present. I am interested in what John Adams thought and even why he did what he did, but what he did is ultimately what matters. That is what we live with. Our Founders built a nation out of the culture that birthed and taught them—a Christian culture. Some of them understood the manifold mischief that coercive religion had caused during the whole history of mankind. They founded a nation, complete with a basis for laws unimagined, that would not abridge even unpopular ideas published, spoken, or religious in nature. They understood that officially mandated ideas or speech or religion are the enemy of liberty.

It is a vexing reality, but our liberty to practice Christianity is safe only if it exists alongside that of others to trumpet the worst ideas ever conceived. Especially we should understand that in this day when many opinion-makers consider biblical Christianity one of those worst ideas.

La Importancia De Un Padre

Cada año, en nuestro país, señalamos el tercer domingo en junio para honorar a nuestros padres. Es un día cuando reconocemos la importancia de un padre en la vida de una familia. La presencia de un padre y el respecto que los hijos deben darle es importante para cada hogar. La Palabra de Dios en Efesios 6:1-3 nos declara:

“Hijos obedeced en el Señor a vuestros padres, porque esto es justo, Honra a tu padre y a tu madre, que es el primer mandamiento con promesa; para que te vaya bien, y seas de larga vida sobre la tierra.”

Hoy en día los hogares están en guerra. Cada vez más vemos que nuestros hijos están alejándose de la cosas de Dios. Muchos niños ya no están asistiendo a ninguna iglesia y las estadísticas dicen que muchos jóvenes que están en nuestras iglesias cuando se van para la universidad ya no regresaran a la iglesia o a las cosas de Dios. La influencia de un padre en la familia es de suma importancia. El padre debe de ser honrado por sus hijos y el padre de cada familia también tiene una gran responsabilidad sobre ellos.

Tres cosas que un padre de una familia debe hacer para impactar, reforzar y afirmar la vida de sus hijos.

1. Impactar la vida de nuestros hijos con palabras. Padres hay que hablar con los niños. Hay que hablarles de las cosas de Dios, de la Biblia. Hay que decirles como Dios ha obrado en nuestras propias vidas y compartir esas experiencias con ellos.

Deuteronomio 6:1-2 dice:
“Estos, pues, son los mandamientos, estatutos y decretos que Jehová vuestro Dios mandó que os enseñase, para que los pongáis por obra en la tierra a la cual pasáis vosotros para tomarla; para que temas a Jehová tu Dios, guardando todos sus estatutos y sus mandamientos que yo te mando, tú, tu hijo, y el hijo de tu hijo, todos los días de tu vida, para que tus días sean prolongados.”

2. Impactar la vida de nuestros hijos con nuestras vidas. La manera como vivimos será un reflejo directo de lo que nuestros hijos aprenderán y serán. Ellos están mirando nuestras vidas, escuchando nuestras palabras y quieren ser como nosotros. Ellos son como esponjas absorbiendo cada hecho que hacemos y cada palabra que digamos. El ejemplo que le damos a nuestros hijos es muy importante. Debemos ser una Biblia viviente para ellos. Nuestros hijos deben ver en nuestras vidas que estamos caminando con Cristo y haciendo la voluntad de nuestro Padre Celestial.

3. Impactar la vida de nuestros hijos con nuestro tiempo. El problema número uno de los padres de hoy es que no tienen tiempo para los hijos.  Invertimos tiempo para el trabajo porque es necesario para sostener a la familia pero lamentablemente no apartamos tiempo para estar con nuestros hijos.
Es importante que los padres hagan tiempo para estar con sus hijos. Esto requiere planificar actividades con nuestros hijos de antemano y ponerlo en el calendario, se trata de hacerlo intencionalmente.

Un joven abogado que tuvo mucho éxito dijo una vez:
“El regalo más grande que yo jamás he recibido en toda la vida fue un regalo de navidad. Mi padre me dio una caja pequeña y dentro estaba una nota que decía, ‘Hijo mío, este año el regalo que yo te daré será de darte 365 horas, una hora cada día después de la cena. Esta hora será tuya. Podemos hablar de cualquier cosa, podemos ir a cualquier lugar, o jugar cualquier juego que quieras. ¡Esta hora será exclusivamente para ti! ’ Mi padre no sólo cumplió con su palabra, pero cada año después él renovaba esa promesa conmigo. Y fue el regalo más grande que jamás había recibido en toda mi vida.  Esa hora a través de los años que estuve con mi padre impactó mi vida para el bien y ahora soy lo que soy.”

La influencia de un padre sobre sus hijos vale mucho. Hay que tomar tiempo para estar con nuestros hijos e instruirlos bien para que ellos puedan hacer decisiones correctas para sus vidas y andar por los buenos caminos. Padres recuerden, el único que puede dar propósito a la vida de sus hijos es Cristo Jesús.