Once Again the Pen Is Mightier than the Sword – George Bullard

I have a mighty pen I prefer over any other pen. I carry it with me always. When someone offers me a pen to sign a document or a payment slip, I pull out my mighty pen and sign it. I like the way my name looks on the paper. It is bold and clear. My name pulsates on the page when I write it with this pen.

I am careful signing my name. I am proud of my name and the family heritage it represents. I love my family and using the right pen to sign my name, and to declare my identity and heritage, is an important part of personhood for me.

In a Bible study group I teach regularly is a certified handwriting expert. He is always making insightful comments about my writing on the whiteboard in our classroom. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I disagree. Sometimes I like what he says and sometimes I do not. When I really want him to analyze my handwriting, I pull out my mighty pen and write on a piece of paper.

My mighty pen is not an expensive pen. It is not a cheap pen. It is a pen purchased either online or at a big box office supply store. Finding refills is not always easy. When I cannot find them, I just buy more pens with the cartridge already in them. I have a desk full of them. Periodically one breaks, and I reluctantly throw it away.

I do not have a sword. A gun. Or other weapons. I do not need one. I have a pen. And, the pen is mightier than the sword. My pen empowers me to write words and craft documents that illuminate the living Word of God and the Church on earth, which is undeniably mightier than the sword. If any sword is at play through my pen, it is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

Those who have only a sword, rather than a pen, are like Lucy of Peanuts cartoon fame. I remember cartoons where Charlie Brown or Linus–take your pick–were trying to answer one of her impossible questions or dilemmas. Then all of a sudden she cocks her fist and goes “POW” as she hits him. She then turns to us and says, “I had to hit him. He was beginning to make sense.”

Sword bearers and their fighters do not have a pen. They cannot write the words that express their feelings. When they disagree, they slash someone. Rather than working at putting words together that form powerful ideas, they believe executing those with whom they disagree will silence their pen. It will not.

This fact was proven again recently in Paris, France as so-called Islamic radicals failed to silence the pen of Charlie Hebdo. I do not necessarily have any affirmation for the satire of Charlie Hebdo, but I do defend the mighty nature of the pen and the freedom of expression. If I do not give others that freedom, I cannot claim it for myself.

What is sad about the attacks in France is that the Islamic prophet Muhammad is reported to have said, “The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”.

Some people of Islamic faith are like some Christians. They scan the scriptures they consider holy to find the part with which they agree. They look for justifications of what they desire to be and do anyway. They contradict love with hate. They oppose grace in favor of judgment.

As Jesus taught us, “Those who take up the sword, shall perish by the sword.” [Matthew 26:52 NASB]. May we always be people who follow the written and living Word of God. May we be grateful that the stories of the drama of redemption were put into writing using the pens of those times. May we embrace the Word of God to be living within and among us for the creation and sustaining of a world of unconditional love.



George Bullard

George Bullard

George Bullard is President of The Columbia Partnership at www.TheColumbiaPartnership.org, General Secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance at www.NABF.info, and Senior Editor of TCP Books at www.TCPBooks.info. Contact him at GBullard@TheColumbiaPartnership.org or 803.622.0923.

Dr. Dockery to Speak at Hamrick Lectureship

Dr. David Dockery is the featured speaker for the 20th. Annual John A. Hamrick Lectureship at First Baptist Church of Charleston on January 18 and 19. His theme is “Worship Then and Now.”

Dr. Don Gardner, an alumnus of Union University, will introduce Dr. Dockery at 5p.m. on Sunday January 18. Special music will be provided by David Templeton, Minister of Music.  A book signing and reception will follow.

Dr. Doug Hunter, Executive Director of the Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership at Charleston Southern University will introduce the speaker on Monday, January 19 at 10a.m. A question and answer period will follow both lectures.

Dr. Dockery is currently the president of Trinity International University. Previously he served for 18 years as president of Union University (Baptist) in Jackson, Tennessee. He has also served as Chief Academic Officer at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he was  Professor of Theology and New Testament. He is the author or editor of more than thirty books including: Renewing Minds, Faith and Learning, Biblical Interpretation Then and Now, Theologians of the Baptist Tradition, Christian Leadership Essentials, and Great Traditions of Christian Thinking. He served on the Board of Christianity Today International. For Prison Fellowship Ministries.

Dr. Dockery earned degrees from The University of Alabama/Birmingham, Grace Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Texas University System.

The Lectureship is presented free to the public to honor the work of Dr. John A. Hamrick, who served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston for 29 years and was the founding president of what is now Charleston Southern University. It is supported by contributions.

First Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist congregation in the South, is located on lower Church Street. The parking is located at 48 Meeting Street just across from the Russell House. The public is invited to attend. For further information contact Lori Lethco at 843-722-3896 ext. 22 or consult the church web site at www.fbcharleston.org.

A Life Filled with the Spirit – Thomas Crowl – Guest Writer

JOB: 32;8…But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Allmighty giveth understanding…

I still remember the day that my dear mother told me I was part American Indian. At the time, I remember I considered it a mixed blessing, for my early education in reservation indians was of a alcoholic collection of poor people gathered under blankets. As I grew I began to understand the complex and honorable tradition that was the American Indian People. Christianity would visit many horrors on these kind folk, from the Spanish conquistadors to a virtual elimination of the spirit religions of North America.

When I went on to college I took courses in the American Indian Tribes and comparative religions. I became aware that we all worship the same God and that despite the complex rituals we all use we arrive at the same spirit driven goal, giving all honor and power to God.

I purchased a decorated cap on a trip to a indian village near the Everglades. It depicted a eagle carrying a peacepipe. I didn’t think too much of it til I talked with a elderly “Grandmother” at  Monument Vally. She admonished me that my purchase was important to my spirit and my place in the world and should not be taken lightly for it was a source of inspiration for my spirit and a guide to living.

Job turned a difficult life into a blessed entry into firm belief in the Lord. When he spoke the above words he helped center our spiritual belief in the certainty of God , His incredible strength and His power to grant understanding.

It is my special prayer for you that you will gather in the wondrous message of a God centered life. It is a power that builds on the best that lives in our spirit…that grants honor to all…and never demeans the method at which we arrive at spiritual salvation found in the Allmighty.



Thanksgiving Day, 2060 – David Gushee – Baptist News Global

Thanksgiving Day, 2060

On marriage, covenant and Thanksgiving Day, 2060.

By David Gushee

Follow David: @dpgushee

My wife Jeanie displays a famous Norman Rockwell painting every year around this time. It depicts the patriarch and matriarch of a large clan gathered around the Thanksgiving table preparing to tuck into a freshly cooked turkey.

Except from the turkey’s perspective, it’s a happy scene. And it’s a scene Jeanie and I often talk about when doing marriage preparation work with young couples. We say something like this:

Look closely at this scene. See the aged grandparents surrounded by their children and grandchildren at the Thanksgiving table. Everything you are doing right now to get ready for marriage is, in a sense, preparation for that day. Right now, Thanksgiving Day 2060 is the furthest thing from your mind. You are thinking about your wedding, your honeymoon, and … well, many things other than what will happen in 2060. And nothing in our culture leads you to think about 45 years down the road.

But marriage is never just about the couple. If you are blessed with children they will become your greatest responsibility. And one aspect of your responsibility to them will be to exert every effort to keep your marriage covenant healthy and whole through your entire lives and thus much of their lives. Your marriage is the scaffolding on which they will construct their wedding,lives. Your practice of marriage will become their default understanding of marriage. Having you happy and together and devoted to each other over their childhood and much of their lifetime will provide for them an indispensable model and an equally indispensable sense of security and order. If your marriage shatters, their sense of security and order will also shatter. You are playing for keeps here.

The dirty little secret of the wedding day is that while it may seem to be about your impossibly youthful and beautiful selves it is actually at least as much about the even more impossibly youthful and beautiful creatures you will bring into the world and raise to adulthood. If all goes well, they too will marry and start their families and then you will be grandparents like this couple in the picture here.

This is one reason why marriages take place in public. Indeed, it is the main reason why the state cares about marriage at all. Because marriage has social and intergenerational significance, not just personal significance. Marriage is not just an extended dating relationship with an oddly expensive celebration day. Marriage is a link in the chain crossing all generations. It is a baton being handed from one set of adults to other young adults who will bring forth into the world the next generation that will one day be adults. You have your own responsibilities that commence right now and that you cannot avoid.

This is one major reason why Christian faith teaches that marriage is a sacred covenant. People date as long as it is fun for both. People in a secular culture marry when, and for as long as, it suits them. But Christians make sacred covenant oaths to God, each other, and the church community. It is perfectly natural for God-created, relational-sexual adults to want to find a suitable partner (Gen. 2:15) to love and make love with. But human beings are also sinners. Our sinfulness affects all our relationships, including (perhaps especially) our most intimate ones. You are blissfully happy today, perhaps. But one day you won’t be. One day you’ll be very frustrated with this or that thing about your spouse. One day you might find another person enter your field of vision in a way that entices you. One day you will grow bored. One day you will grow weary of conflict. One day you will wish that your character, both its good and bad parts, was not so clearly known by your partner. One day you might just feel like blowing up your life and starting over. And all this will one day be true of your spouse as well.

But if you have exchanged genuine sacred oaths before God and with each other, and if you are people of the character who mean what they say and do what they vow, you both will realize that on the day you married you made promises that you cannot now break. You said: I will be with you for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. You promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. You promised fidelity and exclusivity, not just when you feel like it, but when you don’t. And so, when a hard day or hard season comes along, you will remind yourselves of the covenant you made. Your covenant — and the God of covenant love — will secure and hold you. Within the shelter of that covenant you will ride out the hard times. You will return to each other again and again.

And then, before you know it, you will look up and it will be 2060. It will be Thanksgiving Day and you will have gray hair. You will by God’s grace have children and grandchildren gathered around a table groaning with food and filled with laughter. You will look at each other and think: we did it. Our covenant held. And many generations will call you blessed.

In honor of my late father-in-law, Dr. W. Vance Grant, Jr., 1924-2014, and my late mother, Janice Elizabeth Gushee, 1933-2014.

David P. Gushee is senior columnist for faith, politics and culture for Baptist News Global. He is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University.

Sinning and Then Follow Me by Nicola MENZIE- christian Post Reporter

ovember 10, 2014|3:11 pm

Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church recently shared that he believes that Christians for too long have been putting unnecessary focus on telling people what not to do instead of simply asking people to “follow Jesus” in order to make disciples.)

Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, speaks via a pre-recorded video during The Nines 2014 online conference held Nov. 3 and 4. The annual event was presented by Leadership Network. Noble, claiming that tax collectors and sinners were viewed as “scum of the earth” in first century Palestine during Jesus’ time, insisted that still today, “All of us, whether we want to admit it or not, we have certain categories that we label people in, as far as sinners.”Top of Form


The founding and senior pastor of the multi-campus NewSpring Church in South Carolina spoke on the topic of Christian Civility for The Nines 2014 online conference last week, which was themed “Culture Clash: When Church and Culture Collide.”

The aim of this year’s online conference was to highlight areas churches have to “deal (with) now or later,” such as same-sex marriage, inclusive culture, and Christian civility, which was Noble’s point of focus.

Sharing a brief message titled “Follow Jesus and Be Nice,” the megachurch pastor used Matthew 9:9 as an illustration of his point that some Christians have been not been following Jesus’ example of making disciples.

The passage found in the first four books of the Gospels tells of Jesus calling on Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him and be one of his disciples.

The passage, in context, is highlighted below:

9 As Jesus went on from there (his own town), he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

“You could literally look at this verse and say, ‘Jesus saw Matthew sinning.’ And it wasn’t like your average, ordinary everyday run-of-the-mill sin. It was tax collecting, the worse sin imaginable in the ancient world,” said Noble, who went on to explain how this verse “gripped” him and affected how he has done ministry.

“Jesus did not ask Matthew to stop sinning. He didn’t say, ‘Stop tax collecting and then follow me,'” explained Noble. “He said, ‘Hey, Matthew. I want you to follow me.’ Because Jesus knew something. Jesus knew that if he could get Matthew to follow him, eventually he would walk away from the sin he had become enslaved and addicted to.”

Noble insisted that the challenge for any Christian leader dealing with any issue is not to convince people that they must stop sinning, but to convince them of their need to follow Jesus.

“If people are pursuing Jesus, they cannot pursue sin,” said Noble, adding that the Christian church for too long has been in business of behavior modification. “It has not worked,” he claimed.

Going back to Matthew 9:9, Noble shared that, based on the four Gospel accounts, he believes Matthew followed Jesus “because Jesus was actually nice.”

“Jesus was a likable person. Jesus was the person that everybody else wanted to hang around,” explained Noble. “So I believe, as a church, we can and should tackle issues of same-sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana, immigration issues. Name a controversial issue, I believe we should tackle it, but I believe the emphasis should be on challenging people to follow Jesus, and being nice.”

“I believe if we do that, we’ll make a greater difference that we ever thought imaginable,” said Noble.

Noble, whose multi-campus church gathers more than 32,000 weekend worshippers, was among 130 scheduled pastors, church leaders, and parachurch directors that appeared either via pre-recorded video or live webcast during the free, two-day Nines conference. The annual online conference, first organized in 2009, was presented by the Leadership Network, and presented discussions on: The Church and Same-Sex Marriage, The Church in an Inclusive Culture, The Church and Christian Civility, The Church and Changing Sexual Norms, The Church and Social Justice, and The Church and Immigration.

Last year, Nines organizer Todd Rhoades was criticized for including only four women among the event’s 112 listed speakers.This year, the number of female guests was 14.

Speaking to the concern of diverse representation of speakers and viewpoints, the Leadership Network insists in its Diversity Statement: “We strive to create a respectful, diverse group of speakers and contributors for our online events that allow for these different perspectives and points of view. We do this through invitations to a wide variety of prospective speakers from a broad range of ethnic, racial, gender and age ranges.”

The Nines conference has been known to attract thousands of viewers. The Christian Post was not able to obtain viewership numbers for this year’s event before press time. Learn more about The Nines online: http://thenines.tv/.

Follow this Christian Post reporter on Twitter namenzie


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