Category Archives: Education

“America and the Church in Perilous Times”

battle hymn

  • The following is an excerpt from this Sunday’s bulletin letter for Hillsdale Baptist Church.

The majority of us are privileged to have been born American; however, there are many who are part of our church family who are American by choice.  Whether by birthright or adoption, we are Americans and the stewardship of our liberties and freedoms rest in our hands.pilgrims kneeling

Students of American history acknowledge the past and future of our nation is inescapably intertwined with the Christian faith.  The pilgrims who first set foot on the soil of our continent came seeking, not fame and fortune, but freedom…freedom of religion and freedom from tyranny!  It was the God of the Holy Scriptures they sought to worship, and it was freedom of conscience for which they were willing to sacrifice their all.

It is my observation that America’s denominational churches and Christian institutions have faltered in their duty to be bastions of Truth.  An inescapable cancer of carnality has taken hold on our churches, schools, homes and communities.  CCMRather than a place where the Gospel is heralded and sinners and saints are called to repentance, the majority of churches are content to replace the bold proclamation of God’s Word with strobe lights, rock music and spotlight hungry musicians.  Like Nero playing his fiddle while Rome burned, most Christians applaud the very carnality that is eroding not only our churches, but also our nation.

Modular Classrooms Update: I praise the LORD there is an overwhelming majority consensus to move forward with the acquisition of three modular classrooms that will be used by the school and youth ministries. With a commitment of $60,000, we are only $32,000 shy of our goal to raise $92,000 for the project by the end of August.

hillsdaleJob\Ministry Opportunity: It is not often you have an opportunity to work in a loving, Christian environment; however, Hillsdale’s Preschool needs ladies who love young children and are interested in working either part-time or fulltime beginning this August. Please see Mrs. Tanya Henry regarding job details, including salary and benefits.

With the Heart of a Shepherd,

Copyright 2916 – Travis D. Smith

“We Shall Stand” (part 1of 2)

Memorial Day

Today, Monday, May 30, 2016 is the day these United States pay tribute and reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.  Before you rush out into activities that give little time for reflection, permit me an opportunity of challenging you with questions I put before my church family on Sunday.

How can we, the living, repay the debt we owe for the liberties we have inherited?  How can we express our gratitude to those who died defending the sovereignty of our nation?  What can we give in memory of those who gave their all that we might be free?

soldier's widowMany will answer those questions quoting John 15:13;  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Indeed, a wonderful verse of self-sacrifice that acknowledges Christ is the model of sacrifice, in that He “commendeth His love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

But what is the practical application of that verse to the questions I proposed?   What can we give in service to our country?   What can we sacrifice to preserve this nation and the freedoms others bought with their own blood and lives?

We must cherish our liberties by standing our ground against all who threaten them!

We must embrace and exercise our freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States:  Freedom of Religion; Freedom of Speech; Freedom of the Press; Freedom of Assembly; Right to Bear Arms; Right of Equal Justice; Right to own private property; and Freedom of Petition to request our elected representatives oppose proposed laws or request protection under the law on our behalf.

We must sacrifice our time, talents, and strength to stand and defend our liberties!   We must refuse to be silenced by those who would shout us down.  We must remember that, contrary to the actions of our elected officials and federal government agencies, these United States are a Republic, not a dictatorship!

freedoms

We must recognize the greatest threat to our nation and freedoms is not Islamic terrorists, but our own government.   

For more than a half-century, our public schools and secular colleges have indoctrinated America’s youth in a liberal, socialistic ideology.  Our children are woefully ignorant of our nation’s history and know little about the sacrifices of those who have gone before them.  Inflaming a rebellion against their elders that is often a natural passing of youth, secular schools, activists preachers (i.e. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson), liberal politicians, spineless conservatives, and the encouragement of liberal media have fostered a generation of youth that reflect the thoughtless mob rationale of Brown Shirt Nazis and Communist youth threatening to usher in an era of anarchy inflamed by our own government.  Given the immoral trajectory of our nation and its betrayal of God’s Law and Commandments, our government and society threaten to silence us all if we do not awaken.  I am afraid the “Silent Majority” of the early 1980’s has become the emaciated “Moral Minority” of the 21st century and the proponents of wickedness have risen to the highest offices in our nation.Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has become a terror to Constitutional Law and the Commandments of God.   The Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 and its decision to legalize “same-sex marriage” in June 2015 were direct assaults on traditional marriage and family.  Added to the moral erosion of America is President Obama’s mandate to open restrooms, showers and locker rooms to those declaring they self-identify with the sex opposite their biological gender.  The president’s action is not only morally reprehensible, it is a declaration of war on the moral innocence and character of our children.  Evidencing the maniacal extremity of the left is the threat to withhold federal funds from school meals programs if schools do not comply with the president’s edict!

Wake Up America!  The President’s heavy-handed enforcement of his ideology against school children should send a warning to every American—the government will inevitably crush us all if we remain silent.

(part 1 of 2)

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

I “Self-identified” as a School Board Member Today

ObamaDear friends and followers of “Heart of a Shepherd”,

In the last two weeks President Obama informed Americans he, his Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Education (DOE), intend to direct a moral assault on our sons, daughters, and employees of public schools under the guise of “Transgender rights” for those “self-identifying” with the sex contrary to their biological birth sex.

Transgender symbolThe intended end is that boys will be given the right to go to the same restrooms, showers, and locker rooms as girls, as long as they “self-identify” as girls, an assertion that none dare challenge at the risk of federal lawsuits. Of course, girls are granted the same insanity since our president and the officials of the DOJ and DOE are equal offenders of moral innocence.

Because the president has threatened the federal funding of pubic schools that defy his edict, especially funds for meal programs that feed the poorest students, I could not be silent knowing the Hillsborough County School Board members are facing enormous political and financial pressures to cower to the DOJ and DOE.   Today I took time out of my schedule to exercise my right and responsibility of free speech before the School Board.  Before the meeting I approached one of the armed security officers and shared with him that I “self-identified” as a school board member and would like to sit in one of the comfy leather chairs with the rest of the board members.  Unfortunately, the right of “self-identification” might apply to boys in the public school going to the girls restrooms, showers, and locker rooms; however, I learned my assertion of “self-identification” as a school board member would have me promptly removed from the board meeting.School Bd Logo

Because I respect the role of the board members, all elected by the citizens of the county, I approached them with the respect they are due, but chose to assert my “self-identification” with them in the following address I read before them:

This afternoon I “self-identify” as a Hillsborough County School Board member whose duly elected responsibility is not only the financial oversight of the 8th largest School system in the country, but also the safety and education of over 200,000 students and employees of the Hillsborough County Public School system.

As a “self-identifying” school board member, I understand I am foremost an employee of the citizens of Hillsborough County and entrusted with their most precious possession…the lives and welfare of their children as they fall under my jurisdiction.

titleIXAs a “self-identifying” school board member, I understand my duty is to uphold the laws and regulations of our nation. I accept my oversight of Title IX and Sex Discrimination is no more and no less than to ensure that:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

As a “self-identifying” school board member, I understand my sworn duty is the education of Hillsborough County children and I am incensed that President Barack Hussein Obama would threaten the financial funding of the school meals programs of our most needy children to achieve submission to his baseless interpretation of Title IX.

Therefore, I will not cower or accommodate the fanaticism of federal government entities or employees that are willing to sacrifice the well-being of our children, families and employees to dictate a social platform that is nothing short of social engineering at the sacrifice of the spiritual, psychological, and moral well-being of Hillsborough County children.

Finally, as a “self-identifying” school board member, I acknowledge my care and the welfare of Hillsborough County children bears eternal consequences for my soul as I read in God’s Word:Matthew 18-6

Matthew 18:6 – “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

I urge this board to embrace decency and common sense:

  • Do not sacrifice our children’s moral innocence and psychological well-being.
  • Do not incense parents who expect you to do what is lawful and in the best interest of their sons and daughters under your care.
  • Do not put school employees in a position whereby they are forced to accommodate the president’s “Transgender bathroom” edict that is morally reprehensible.

Sincerely,

Travis D. Smith

“Self-identifying” School Board Member

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

President Obama’s Threat of Blackmail—Bow or burn

obama transgender demandAttached is a the “smoking gun” demand proving the Obama Administration’s blackmail of public schools and the President’s threat to withhold funding unless States, school districts, administrators, teachers and coaches bow to his will.

Should there not be an outcry or have we become the stupid sheep they believe us to be? sheep

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

President blackmails public schools to open restrooms to those who “identity” as the opposite sex

Mom and dad, are you going to sacrifice the innocence of your sons and daughters and allow this culture to take the treasures of your hearts and homes and allow them to be sacrificial sheep?
As a follow-up on my earlier post, here is an announcement that should have every parent of a public school student charging into the local principal’s office, the school superintendent’s office, the school board commissioners’ offices and their public meetings, and the offices of the Governor and State Senators and Representatives–telling them if they follow the moronic demand of this president you are pulling your students out of their institutions.
transgender bathroomsMy heart goes out to public school teachers and students caught in the web of this amoral president and his liberal cohorts.
 * My apology for the earlier “typo” in the title….
Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

Ever find yourself asking, “What were they thinking?”

thinking, notMy next blog in my series “Who’s driving the bus and where are we going?” is scheduled for posting at 1:30 PM today; however, I thought I would pre-empt that post with a question I believe several of my ministry peers have entertained: “What were they thinking?”

Having observed the implosion of several “former” Bible fundamental colleges and churches in the last 5 years, I often ponder the question, “What were they thinking?”  

What are pastors, college administrators, and professors thinking when they follow the pragmatic rationale that led their peer institutions down the compromising path of failure?

choicesWhat are they thinking when they sit in “ivory towers” and plot a course of action contradictory to their heritage and base of supporters that has been a pipeline for their existence?

Godly men and women founded Bible fundamental schools and colleges, burdened that young people from Bible-preaching churches and Christian homes had institutions of higher learning where they would be nurtured and equipped to be servants and soldiers of Christ in the world.  What becomes of those institutions when they diminish their disciplines, lower their standards, and “cater to carnality”?

It has been my observation and experience that worldly youth have no affection for the principles and precepts of God’s Word and no desire for a Christian education that instills the spiritual disciplines of a servant of the LORD.  Sadly, I have watched pastors, administrators and professors alienate their base with pragmatic, unprincipled choices.  I am fearful there are others who will realize too late what is painfully obvious; choices have consequences.

What are they thinking?

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

Psalm 119:129 – “Overcoming Spiritual Lethargy”

lethargyOvercoming the lethargy of those poor souls content with skipping the spiritual therapy of studying the Word of God, we take up the challenge of embracing 14 qualities of a thriving soul who loves and abounds in the Word, Law, Statutes, Precepts, Testimonies, and Judgments of the LORD.

I closed the preceding devotion with the first principle for spiritual growth found in our focus passage, Psalm 119:129-144Be passionate: The testimonies of the LORD are “wonderful” (119:129a).

Psalm 119:129Thy testimonies [witness; admonitions; ordinances] are wonderful [marvelous; astonishing]: therefore doth my soul keep them.

The testimonies, admonitions and ordinances of the LORD are wonderful in simplicity.  One of the great tragedies of our day is society’s assault on childhood innocence.  Liberal educators, politicians, advertisers, and public media have long recognized the ease of indoctrinating children in opposition to family values and apart from their parent’s knowledge.  The innocence and trust of a young child is a trait of childhood the wicked use to indoctrinate youth in the way of sin; however, it is also that same quality Christ used as a model of saving faith in Matthew 18:1-6.childhood innocence

Not only are the testimonies of the LORD wonderful in simplicity, they are also wonderful in message…the Gospel of Salvation.  What a wonderful and profound truth we find in John 3 when Christ told Nicodemus:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The testimonies of the LORD are wonderful in Truth.  Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, weighed the dilemma what he would do with an innocent man, but one whom the Jewish religious leaders of the day demanded nothing less than His death.  Interrogating the Lord, Pilate asked Christ, “Art thou King of the Jews?” (John 18:33)  Stating His kingdom was “not of this world”, Jesus assured Pilate His mission was to “bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).  Pilate astutely asked, “What is truth?”; however, there is no indication the governor waited to hear the answer to his question.  Instead, declaring Christ innocent, Pilate committed the greatest travesty of judgment in the history of man and sentenced Jesus to die on the cross in place of Barabbas, a notorious sinner.  What is truth, you ask? The Word of God is Truth (John 17:17)!

Fourthly, the testimonies of the LORD are wonderful in instruction:  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).truth

Realizing the wonder of the testimonies of the LORD, no wonder our second principle for the victorious life is: Be obedient: Keep God’s testimonies (119:129b).

Psalm 119:129 – Thy testimonies [witness; admonitions; ordinances] are wonderful [marvelous; astonishing]: therefore doth my soul [life; person] keep [preserve; guard] them.

The psalmist not only loved the testimonies of the LORD, he obeyed them!  Is that principle a guiding truth for your life?  If you want to live a spiritually victorious life, I challenge you to follow James’ exhortation and “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

Psalm 44:1-8 – From Generation to Generation

obama quote1The tragedy of events unfolding in Paris, this day after Islamic militants attacked six different venues in the French capital, should drive 21st century citizens of the world to their history books.   We are witnessing the rise of an evil, cloaked in the robes of religion that is indicative of heathens who have no fear of God, His holiness, justice, grace and mercy and no respect for the dignity of human life created after the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7).

Many have stressed the importance of men and nations being students of history.  Winston Churchill, the great leader of the British Empire during World War II, warned his nation, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”  Famed author and playwright, George Bernard Shaw observed, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”Obama quote

18th century Scottish philosopher, David Hume, made a statement regarding the nature of man that is especially pertinent on this day that follows the militant Islamic attack on the citizens of France: “Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature.”

In today’s devotional from Psalm 44, the psalmist reminds God’s people the truths and facts of history their fathers had passed down to them from generation to generation (Psalm 44:1-3).

Psalm 44:1-3 – “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told [declared; showed; numbered] us, what work [acts; deeds] thou didst [work; commit] in their days [time], in the times of old [ancient times or days].
2  How thou didst drive out
[took possession; expelled] the heathen [Gentile nations] with thy hand [power], and plantedst [strike] them; how thou didst afflict [hurt; afflict] the people [nations], and cast them out [send away].
3  For they got not the land
[Canaan; the Promise Land] in possession [inheritance] by their own sword, neither did their own arm [might; strength] save [deliver; preserve] them: but thy right hand [typically the stronger side], and thine arm [might; strength], and the light of thy countenance [face; presence], because thou hadst a favour [accept; pleasure; delight] unto them.”teaching

Psalm 44:1-3 moves me to ask moms and dads, what are you teaching your children regarding the LORD?  Are you teaching your sons and daughters spiritual truths and taking them to church to hear the teaching and preaching of God’s Word?  Can your children recite Bible stories and evidences of God’s works and providences recorded in the Word of God?  Have you shared with them your own faith and relationship with His Son Jesus Christ?

It is not enough to know history; it behooves the sons and daughters of every generation to know the LORD personally.  The psalmist, in a very personal profession of his own faith, asserts the God of heaven and creation is his God!

Psalm 44:4-8 – “Thou art my King, O God: command [charge; order] deliverances [salvation; help; victory] for Jacob [the patriarch Israel].
5  Through thee will we push down
[war against; gore] our enemies [adversaries]: through thy name [fame; renown; reputation] will we tread them under [trample] that rise up [arise; stand up] against us.
6  For I will not trust
[secure; confident] in my bow [strength of the bow], neither shall my sword save [deliver; avenge; defend] me.
7  But thou hast saved
[deliver; avenge; defend] us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame [confounded; disappointed; confused] that hated us.
8  In God we boast
[glory; praise; celebrate] all the day long [continually], and praise [confess; give thanks] thy name [fame; renown; reputation] for ever [perpetual; everlasting]. Selah.”

Believer, as tragic as the events of the last 24 hours has been, let us pray God’s people will boldly declare the God of heaven is God and has revealed Himself in His Word and in His Son Jesus Christ.  Let us renew our own conviction to declare Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  I urge you to be not only a student of God’s Word, but a student of His-Story…for history reveals not only the depravity of man, but also the providences of God.  Early American history and a multitude of quotes of our founding fathers reveal a people and generation conscious Sovereign God was directing the course of American and world history.  I close with a prayer of our nation’s first president, George Washington.

Washington“Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field.

And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation.

Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

[June 8, 1783, original source of prayer is the concluding paragraph in Washington’s farewell circular letter sent to the governors of the thirteen states from his headquarters in Newburgh, New York. America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations.]

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

“America: Has She Lost Her Way?”

Signing of the Declaration of Independence“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…” The Declaration of Independence

The founding fathers of our nation boldly and unapologetically stated in the preamble of our Declaration of Independence that the bedrock of our freedoms and laws is the conviction that man is the unique creation of the God of all Creation.

There is much debate today about American exceptionalism; however, few of the liberal intellectuals, politicians and justices of our day are willing to acknowledge that the fundamental difference in this nation and the nations of the world is that the United States was founded predominately by men and women who identified with “Protestant Christianity”.

First Baptist ChurchFeel free to do your own research on this matter, but you may be shocked to learn that 98 percent of Americans in 1776 identified with Protestant Christianity. In fact, 52 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention considered themselves to be Christian.  Hollywood, liberal media and public educators boldly paint the flaws and failures of men of this era and indeed, they were not perfect; however, the inescapable reality is that America’s failings run parallel with this nation’s departure from the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

 I believe men and women, who govern us, regardless of their profession, have scuttled the fundamental principles that made America great.  Politicians, black-robed justices, liberal educators and media have worked in concert to pull our nation from its spiritual moorings and the future of our youth and nation is predictably that of a shipwreck without a spiritual awakening.

The question Hillsdale will ponder this Sunday morning is: “Has America Lost Her Way?” 

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 19:1-2 – Common Sense has fallen upon hard times!

IntegrityToday’s devotional is from Proverbs 19:1-2, two parables that address two very different themes and applications.  

Proverbs 19:1 – “Better [good; pleasant] is the poor [destitute; needy] that walketh [behave] in his integrity [innocent; complete; sound; whole], than he that is perverse [crooked; twisted; perverted; devious] in his lips [language; words], and is a fool [thick-headed; stupid; silly].” 

Proverbs 19:1 addresses what few believe, or at least practice in our day: It is better to be a poor man of excellent character and integrity, than a man of position and possessions whose lips betray the heart and perverseness of a thick-headed fool!right thing

Since we are on that subject—How honest are you in your words and conversation? Do you value your integrity more than you value riches?  Are you given to slighting the truth in your words and actions, hoping for an advantage in business? Don’t be a fool, “honesty is the best policy!” (Benjamin Franklin)

Proverbs 19:2 states two things that “are not good.”

Proverbs 19:2 – “Also, that the soul be without knowledge [perception; i.e. common sense], it is not good; and he that hasteth [hurry; make haste] with his feet [walking; journey] sinneth [sin; miss a goal; go wrong].”

Reading this parable brings to mind one of the foolish sayings of our society: “Do something, even if it is wrong!” Really? I know the point of that idiom is to not be idle, but to do something without weighing its moral value and consequences is sheer folly!

farmingfamilyOne casualty of our day is what folks used to call Common Sense!  The America of the 19th century was an agrarian society.  With the exception of the one-room schoolhouse, the education of America’s youth took place on the farm where children worked side-by-side with their parents and grandparents.  Taking a page from Deuteronomy 6:6-9, families shouldered the responsibility of instilling in their children the qualities and values that encouraged godly character, morality and Common Sense.  Sadly, our schools have become institutions that exploit the natural silliness of youth and nurture a generation that pursues pleasure while rushing headlong into self-destruction.

Mom and dad, instilling character, moral values and Common Sense in your child does not take place by osmosis, it is something you must purpose to teach and model.  Raising a fool takes no effort at all; it is the natural bent of your child’s heart.

FranklinHaving stated an earlier idiom by Benjamin Franklin, I close with another: “Haste makes waste.”