Megachurches Making a Difference – on Good News Friday:We start the program with another black history hero. Today’s hero is Stephen Smith. Next, we work through David and Tim’s stack of good news. In Africa, terrorism is being fought by the US government. More Christian programs are being introduced into public schools. A megachurch in Florida requires its members to agree affirm the biblical definition of marriage. In Fort Worth, Texas, a megachurch gets involved in school board elections and turns things around.
Air Date: 2/17/2023
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Tim Barton and Rick Green
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You found us at the intersection of faith and the culture, it’s WallBuilders. We’re taking on those hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. Thanks so much for joining us today. I know that the program is encouraging to you because we hear from so many people talking about that. And so we appreciate you being a part of it. And I’m going to ask you to do something, an action step today, that’s really easy to do. You know, I’m always asking, you know, will you make a donation, will you come alongside us financially? Will you share the program? Will you become a constitution coach or biblical citizenship coach? Will you become a part of the solution? So I’ve started thinking about just making it easy, right, just just one easy step each time we ask. So today’s easy step is share this program. So out of all those things I just listed, just do one of them. Just share the program, take the link, and share it with your friends and family so that they can hear some good news as well. I love good news, Friday gives me a pick me up, you know, helps me to remember that what we’re doing matters and it works. And so I know your friends and family would enjoy the same thing. So be sure and share the program today. I’m Rick Green, America’s constitution coach here with David and Tim Barton. Of course, David, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. Tim’s a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders, they’ve got a load of good news to share with you today. But guys, first, let’s do what we’ve been doing all month. Let’s get another hero of history. Tim, who’s our hero of history today.
Alright guys, well, the hero today is Steven Smith. And as always, if somebody wants to follow along, they get a WallBuilders.com, you can download the PDFs, you can purchase a print out version we can send to you. And these are stories that we want people to know, at the end of the stories, there’s also foot notes. Generally speaking, all these heroes we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks. These are people whose stories are actually fairly well documented, and yet, they’re just not known or told on hardly any level today. And that’s why we’re going highlight these individuals, and bring them to your attention. And Steven Smith is one of the individuals who is definitely in a unique category. One of the things we highlight about his story in this very brief little biography is that he’s one of the wealthiest American black businessmen in America’s history, at least up to that point, he certainly had been, you might could argue with inflation or numbers, now it could be different. But he was one of America’s wealthiest black businessmen. And it is very significant because he was born at a time when slavery… where he wasn’t Pennsylvania, slavery was on its way out, they’d already passed and Pennsylvania laws for what they called gradual abolition. So ultimately, in Pennsylvania, they wanted to end slavery, but there were some people they were having to fight with. It said, Look, we, we have all these slaves. And one of the things that became very popular, especially in southern states was that if you could almost treat your slaves like it was a breeding farm, you could grow your slaves, because once we stopped the slave trade importation, then there’s no way to get more slaves. And so right a lot of mess in the slavery industry, a lot of evil in the slavery industry. And Pennsylvania, they said, that if you have slaves, and this was at this time, that you could keep your slaves, but any children born to them would be free children. Well Steven Smith was born to a mother who was a slave, but he was born free. And as a free young man. He then has, obviously a weird navigated life as his mom’s a slave. But he grows up he gets a level of education, and decides he needs to find a profession which every young man has to find a profession. And there’s actually been many great heroes we’ve highlighted along the way, who have been noted for some of the other incredible works they’ve done like a guy like Paul Cuffe, or Paul “Cuffe”, right, depending on how we define his name, and what he had done or ministers like Henry Highland Garnet, but if you’re going to do that, then you have to learn a lot of Greek and Latin, whatever you do, there’s going to be a lot of effort and labor involved to be successful in that industry. Well, Steven decided that he wanted to sign on with a lumber company and, you know, maybe it makes sense because there’s a lumber mill maybe not too far from where he is, and so right, you kind of piecing together, maybe he’s just thinking, Okay, I’ll go to the lumber mill. But for anybody this is not for Steven, specifically. For anybody who’s going to work back then you would generally find an apprenticeship. And in that apprenticeship, you would agree to go and be the apprentice. You would at times have even pay to be the apprentice because you would get training at times, they would pay you but it would be a very small amount of pay. Because the idea is that when you apprentice for somebody, you’re going to learn that trade and at the end of the apprenticeship, you will have some level of mastery of that trade. So then you have a skill that makes you more valuable, you can make a lot of money. So Stephen went to apprentice at a lumberyard and while he’s there, apparently, he does a really good job as an apprentice because he’s not there very long before the boss realizes that this guy is a really talented… and gives him a little more power and authority. Well, he also, Steven also realizes that he’s getting on to this pretty quick. And so he works with the guy who owned this Lumberyard to actually buy out his contract early. And the reason he bought it out earliest, because he thought, I can actually go set up shop for myself I can… everything I’ve learned, I need to know. I can go do this now. So he decides he’s going go open his own lumber mill. And he doesn’t really stop there. Apparently, he got a really good grasp of business. So he opens his own lumber yard. But then he begins expanding what he does, he moves to Philadelphia, he built lumber yards, and actually coal businesses along the way, and begins to acquire property begins to acquire other assets along the way. And in all of his business dealings in the community. He also recognized the significance of Christianity because he wanted to see churches. He, as a person of faith himself, he knew what faith had done in his own life. He wanted other people to experience that, find the freedom in Christ, to get the moral training from the Bible. So he not only helps open churches, he even became an ordained minister and served for a time as a pastor. So you’re talking about one of the wealthiest people in that area at that time, not just a business person, but a pastor, which if you think about where you live, right, one of the wealthiest people where you live, imagine if one of the wealthiest people was a pastor, and we’re not talking about right, like, it’s the Joel Osteen and this guy is so wealthy No, no, we’re talking about someone who’s wealthy as a business person. They’ve been very, very successful in business, but their life is not so consumed in business, that they don’t have a personal relationship with God or connection on a spiritual level or spiritual front. Well, that’s Stephen Smith, that’s who he was. We can go on through the list of him. He actually helped in the Underground Railroad. Because… I didn’t highlight this the beginning- He was born in the late 1700s. And so he’s growing up as a free person in Pennsylvania. But obviously, the abolition issue is a very big deal. And he’s part of that conversation. He’s part of what’s going on. He’s found a lot of success as a free man, he wants to help other people find their freedom. So he works with the Underground Railroad. He works with the Pennsylvania anti slavery society, he met with abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and John Brown of Kansas. He also was involved with the temperance movement. Temperance, because he understood that alcohol was not going to be beneficial to so many people. He was an outspoken Republican. He was actually part of the movement to build a national memorial to Abraham Lincoln. At the time of his death at nearly 80 years old. He was described as decidedly the most wealthy colored man in the United States. He literally was a rags to riches story. And again, one of the reasons we’ve highlighted over and over and over the reason we want to tell these stories, is when you have groups like the 1619 project, or right on Hulu, they now have the 1619 project on Hulu. Several episodes, you can watch. Disney Plus is promoting such critical race theory, racist Marxist propaganda, and it is a victim mentality. And it’s not to say that evil didn’t happen in America. That’s not to say that slavery was not a evil practice, and people did these despicable things. But it’s discounting the reality that there were so many great successful individuals who, despite starting so negatively, from a position in life, were able to overcome and be incredibly successful. And Steven Smith is one of those guys who rags to riches story, started out with nothing, becomes one of the wealthiest, or actually as he was described, as the most wealthy colored man in the United States, a really incredible person. For people who want to find out more, go to WallBuilders.com. And you can find out more about Steven Smith.
Okay, guys, more heroes of history coming throughout the month. But for now, let’s jump into some good news for today. David, first piece of good news?
Okay, Rick, I’m starting out with a piece of good news that actually comes from the Biden administration. We haven’t said many good things about the Biden administration. But one of the things that I can say is something they recently did in Somalia. And backup a little bit. As you get over in the terrorist kind of countries whether it’s Afghanistan, it had been Iraq. But it’s so many places in Africa are starting to burgeon now with terrorism. There’s so many nations there that we’re ISIS and AL Qaeda and Boko Haram, and all these different groups are growing and exerting more influence. Matter of fact, going back a year and a half ago, when Afghanistan was shutting down, and we were talking actively at that point in time about the evacuations out of Afghanistan and what we were doing and working there, and the Nazarene fund and getting 17,000 out or whatever it was. And so much of that was really because you had 20 different terrorist groups there. And now we’re also engaged in countries in Africa where they’re capturing, kidnapping Christians and harvesting their organs, selling those organs on the black market because they get a lot of money. That’s how they finance their terrorism, etc. So in Africa, we’ve really seen a growth of terrorist cells and terrorism there and Christians have been the victims of that. So this is a piece of good news, because what happened is Biden signed off on going into Somalia and killing one of the key ISIS leaders in Africa. This guy’s been responsible for growing ISIS throughout Africa. He’s been growing ISIS throughout Afghanistan. He’s one of the top leaders. And they sent in Special Force troops, they found them in a cave complex, they’d hoped to capture him, his guys put up a fight, and they eliminated them all. And so they have taken out this terrorist who’s responsible for I don’t know how many 1000s and 1000s of deaths. But that’s good news that this guy has gone. And kudos to the Biden administration for fighting terrorism by taking out leaders like this. This is really, really significant, really key. And this will save countless American lives. And so kudos to Biden for doing the right thing with taking out this leader in Somalia.
Alright, let’s jump over to Tim see what our next piece of good news is.
Alright guys, well, I have one really small one, and then one… and I may tie together these two. So this first one is actually a comment, we had. Somebody sent us an email, and this is Rebecca Garrett out of Ohio. And she said, I have loved listening to The Good News Fridays, it has been a great addition to my Fridays. I have a bit of good news coming out of Ohio. There’s a movement right now to get a program called Life Wise Academy in each school district. Check it out at lifewise.org . I am a teacher for one in West Milton, Ohio. And it has been truly amazing. We are able to take kids out of school for an hour and teach them about Jesus. We are sharing with the students each Tuesday about how a life with Jesus can truly change their lives. And guys, we’ve talked, I want to say several times, I don’t know how many maybe dozens hundreds of times it could be about how in public schools there is at times and way more freedom and flexibility. There’s release time, there’s Bible Story Hour, there’s some of these things, well now Life Wise, what’s going on, this seems like another follow on with that. But this is great news. And if you’re a teacher out there, the lifewise.org is something that’s worth you looking into. Because this is something you can do in your school district. The opportunity to let kids learn about Jesus, right? Obviously, salvation, eternal security, morals for operating day to day, just spend time in the Sermon on the Mount, learning to treat other people the way you want to be treated, that that you are the salt, that you are the light. Going through these thoughts, man, this would be incredible if we could start doing this in every single public school district. And this is a teacher just wanting to let people know, which first of all, Rebecca, thank you for emailing us. Thanks for letting us know that, first of all, you are doing this, because that does make even good news Friday, even a little better. Hearing that there are… We know there are so many great teachers in the public school system. We rag on the public school a lot because we see so many negative things coming out of public schools in general. And we highly encourage parents, I mean, really, for the soul of your kids, we think the best thing to do is get them out of public school and you can. But Rebecca, I’m saying this [with] a huge caveat. We are so grateful for people like you, who are a missionary in some of these situations that you can invest in kids lives, you can help try to reach them their souls, for Christ. This is really good news. And guys, I’m excited that there are organizations like lifewise.org , trying to do something to help introduce kids to Jesus.
You know whats significant with this Tim is this goes back to a Supreme Court decision back in the really hostile days of the court. When they started the judicial activism, there was a case in ’47-’48. One was called Everson versus Board of Education. One’s called McCollum. Going back to that point in time, even at that point in time, the Supreme Court said, oh, absolutely, you can teach doctrine to kids in school. You can take them off campus for an hour a week. And so this is something that’s been going now for over 80 years are right at 80 years. And so this is legally acceptable, your school attorney probably will not have a clue you can do this. But this goes back to Supreme Court rulings, even in the hostile days. So if you want to do this, you may have to convince your superintendent or principal or whatever, you can do this. You can take these kids and they can have an hour of just instruction, whatever kind of religious struction you want to do. It can be as blatant and open as you want. You can talk about Jesus as much as you want. You can talk about your church’s doctrines if you want, that’s fine. That’s legal. That’s acceptable. And again, most school attorneys will not know that but it’s called “release time”. And so release time, they can look it up online that is a legal program… and there’s a lot of different programs across the country. And Tim, the one you mentioned, great, great one. So there’s some good things. And parents maybe you can get motivated to start one of these in your school or your church can reach out and start something in school. It’d be great.
Alright, well, then I will save the follow on, the second part for after break. I know we have to go to break but I am encouraged. Rebecca, thanks again so much for emailing. This is great news.
Quick break, guys. We’ll be right back with more good news. Stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders.
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We’re back here on WallBuilders and Tim Barton has the next piece of good news for our good news Friday. Tim?
Alright guys, this piece of good news is coming from Florida and the title of the article says Florida megachurch requiring members agree to statement affirming biblical definition of marriage.
Wait a minute? a megachurch. No, no, it’s usually small country churches that do this. You talking to a real genuine megachurch?
Absolutely, yes. When I saw this article, I remember sharing it with several people. And actually said we probably should interview this pastor on WallBuilders show this would be a great guy to talk to you about this. So just in case if you haven’t heard about this, which maybe is why you listen to good news Friday because your your good news that you haven’t heard other places. There is a church in Jacksonville, Florida is called First Baptist Church and…
I’ve been there. I know that pastors. That’s a great church.
Well, so senior pastor is Heath Lambert, and they decided they wanted to have their members sign on to a statement of biblical sexuality. Here’s the statement: As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression. Now, that seems like a very basic Christian idea and teaching. Seems like this shouldn’t be super controversial. But just to clarify, Pastor Lambert did say that the reason they did this… They’ve been considering such a statement for a while, they thought now was the right time to have a clear statement on these controversial issues. Why was now the right time, you might ask? He explained, our church is in a strong and stable place. We are not in conflict on these issues. And we do not want to be. So we wanted to clarify our position. Now, guys, this was one of my favorite things from the statement. So often, we see the church or Christians… And I even think of this as parenting sometimes, that we are so reactional and not always strategic and intentional, that as leaders, we want to lead people in the direction that they need to go. We don’t want to be reactionary and respond to whatever’s happening in culture, we want to be leaders that guide what’s happening in culture. Pastor Lambert said this was a decision made by our entire congregation. The church approved this unanimously that means by definition that our entire church stands behind this. I’ve heard of few people who have said that they’re leaving our church, but our church as a whole is excited about the statement and supportive of it. So this is a pastor who in the midst of woke culture still recognizes the truth of biblical authority saying, guys, we’re gonna stand on what the Bible says. And some people have said, well, you’re just targeting right the gays and homosexuals, as a pastor pointed out, this is every form of human sexuality. So whether we’re talking about adultery, whether we’re talking about right and fornication, you can go through several things the Bible identifies, in addition to and even outside of homosexuality, he says it’s just recognizing the place for human sexuality is in a biblical idea of marriage defined in the Bible as one man and one woman, a lifelong covenant union. So this was just so encouraging to me to see a pastor and as the article identified a pastor of a megachurch. So that means you have 1000s of people that are part of your church congregation, for this pastor to take a stand, bringing clarity to what should have already been clear, but unfortunately in culture is not always the most clear. For this pastor to have the courage and backbone to do this, this is what we need more of in our culture, pastors having the courage, the backbone and the biblical understanding, to speak truth and clarity to issues that are becoming confusing in culture. And again, I love as he pointed out, this isn’t something that their church is struggling with. He just wanted to stay ahead of this to make sure their church doesn’t end up struggling with something that is clear in the Bible. kudos to pastor Lambert on this situation.
You know this really is a good throwback to history, because I was doing some writing, doing some writing recently on Andrew Jackson’s mother, early presidents. And late in life, Andrew Jackson decides he wants to join the church he wants to be part of a Christian church, it’s a Presbyterian Church. And so the preacher comes in and preaches a series of sermons at the church where Jackson decided he would go listen to this guy. And as he did, one of the sermons he preached was pointed directly at Jackson, I mean, it just point blank at Jackson, because the pastor knew Jackson was there. He knew that Jackson hadn’t been religious. So he points this at him. And so Jackson met with the pastor the next day said, Hey, I know you pointed that at me. And it’s interesting, Jackson talked about the fact that he wanted to meet with the pastor, and he wanted the pastor to what he called catechize, I want you to ask me questions about the faith. Because back then, even if you became a Christian, you couldn’t become a church member, until you knew enough about the Bible and about faith to know what was required of you to live a Christian life. So it wasn’t just a matter of you say, Hey, I’m a Christian. I’ve had a salvation experience. I’m now a member of the church, they said, No, you really need to know… And even folks like Dwight Moody, who was the great revivalist and evangelist at the turn of the century revivals, he tried to join a church and the board sat down with him and questioned him and said, Yeah, you’re a Christian, but you just don’t know anything about the Bible, yet. You need to know more about the beliefs and doctrines. And so what this church has done, Tim, in Florida, it’s really going back to that saying, look, if you’re going to be a member of the church, you need to uphold biblical values, biblical teachings, and one of the most basic of all is sexuality, human sexuality and human marriage. And so it’s really good to see that, and hopefully other churches will go back to that historical tradition, because that was even tradition at the time of the apostles. In the book of Acts, it talks about the seat of the unlearned, those were the people who said, hey, I want to be a Christian, but they didn’t know what that meant yet. And so the seat of the unlearn was where they went to classes. And when they went to school, and they learned about what it meant to be a Christian, to be a follower of Christ. And once they got that, became a disciple, then they became part of the congregation. So it really is a healthy thing to see that happen. That’s moving in a really good direction. I hope a whole bunch of other churches will do that, not just on that issue, but other key issues as well.
All right, David’s got the final piece of good news today. David, where are you taking us?
Okay, Rick, this one is coming out of Fort Worth. It’s our backyard. We WallBuilders are pretty close to Fort Worth. That was the big city around me when I grew up. And so in Fort Worth, its nickname is cow town, USA. And yet it was out of Fort Worth about six [to] six and a half years ago that the whole gender identity thing really took off in schools. They were really the first school in the nation to kind of say, Hey, we’re not going to do this gender thing, the way it’s always been done. We’ll let kids choose their own gender, choose their own bathrooms, locker rooms, whatever. And then Arne Duncan, who is the Secretary of Education for Obama picked that up and said, Man, I should have thought of that. It’s a great idea. And so they made this deal that if you get federal funds, you can’t do gender stuff in your schools, so that really is where this whole gender thing kind of got started. All this dysfunctional stuff that we have came out of Fort Worth, which is amazing, because Fort Worth is the 13th largest city in the United States, just under a million people. And it’s the only major city in the United States that has a Republican mayor. So it’s considered to be a fairly conservative town compared to big cities. And yet here out of Texas, out of cow town, USA, they come where they can’t tell genders anymore, and then we find out that Fort Worth has joined with Planned Parenthood, and is one of only about 35 or 36 schools, that is modeling Planned Parenthood curriculum. And it was really radical stuff. We got to hold it the curriculum, looked at it and, man, it’s the kind of stuff that a lot of adults would find super offensive, much less teaching the kids, but it was Planned Parenthood and so I think there were 34, 35, 37 schools that did that and Fort Worth was one of them. You can see San Francisco and you can see maybe Atlanta or something else. But Fort Worth, Texas? And so it really has been heading in a bad direction in the Fort Worth school district, and a lot that’s been the voters. There’s just under a million people in Fort Worth. And in the school board election, the president of the school board who came up with these silly policies, was elected with less than 1200 votes out of a town with nearly a million people. So, I started looking around at churches and found some church I found one church that had 3000 registered adult voters in that churches, evangelical church that one church could save the whole nation from all this gender confusion if they’d put a different candidate in out of their district than the guy that was school board president. So what happened in this last election, last November, just now three months ago or so, was a church here in Fort Worth got engaged and they really got… and it’s a megachurch. It’s a huge church. They got engaged and they started looking at the school board and said this is not right. This is not what Texans believe this is not what Christians believe. This is not what most parents believe. Most parents don’t know what’s been taught. So they won 20 out of 21 seat there in Fort Worth, in the school district. They get 20 out of 21. And now here’s this headline that comes out that says, Fort Worth ISD drops, sex ed, despite how many $2.6 million purchase of instructional materials from Planned Parenthood. Change in leadership, change in the school board, and now the kids will be getting different information headed in a very positive direction. Way to go to that church in Fort Worth that stood up for this. And way to go for all the parents that will now have the benefit of this. This is good news to see that we’re getting back involved in local things and starting to teach local values the right way. This now conforms to state law in Texas, which is another thing that should have been going on. It wasn’t. But that’s what a change in leadership can do.
Alright folks, out of time for today for good news, but you can get more at our website WallBuildersLive.com , click on the archive button, go back in the archives and get good news Fridays from the past few weeks and months, foundations of freedom Thursdays, the interviews for Monday through Wednesday, just a lot of good programming in there. And it’s great stuff to share with your friends and family. As I said at the top of the program, the one thing I’m going to ask you to do today is to share the program. Take the link from today, post it on your social media pages, send it out to your friends and family. Pick four or five friends to just text it to and say hey look, listen to all this good news that I learned today. You’ll enjoy this program. That’s a great way to help us grow the program. It’s growing like crazy, but you can help be a force multiplier by doing that today. Thanks for listening to WallBuilders.
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