10 Commandments, Muldrow, and the Mission Field

                Muldrow is a unique place. It is one of those places that either take you back in time or is stuck in time depending on your perspective. People ride on horses up and down the highway. The Chamber of Commerce is more about friendships and relationships than businesses and agendas. There are as many people in a parade as there are watching the parade. You can’t talk about anybody, because you are probably talking to their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd cousin. And the two most important entities in the town are the churches and the school. It’s small town USA, and the community of Muldrow is proud of that.

                Last year, the churches and the schools worked together for good. We hosted a Teacher’s vs. Preacher’s Basketball game to help a local family with some significant medical expenses. Literally half the town (1500 people) attended the game to watch a bunch of over-the-hill men play a turnover-fest of a basketball game. (OK, so the preacher’s unofficially ordained Bryant “Big Country” Reeves to help us to victory.) Over $10,000 was raised for the family, and it was a special night doing something that Muldrow can do so well: work together.

                This week we got word that the 10 Commandments that are posted in every room in the school were to be taken down or there would be legal action against the school. The community of Muldrow has held on to the ideal that this town, our town is a Christian community. Now, this threat of the removal of the 10 Commandments threatens our very identity. If we can’t have the 10 Commandments in our schools, what does that say about Muldrow, the city we love?

                The first thing it says is this: We are not a “Christian Community,” a town governed by God and filled with Christians, aka heaven. We are a “Community with Christians,” a town governed by the Law and populated with devoted Christians, nominal Christians, and non-Christians. The reality is this on a Sunday morning only 1 out of every 4 people, 25%, 1 quarter of our town is in church for worship. That is not a “Christian Community,” that is a “Community with Christians.”

                As long as the 10 Commandments are posted in every classroom, we could live with this belief that we are a Christian Community. We could believe that even if someone didn’t go to church, they would still have access to the Word of God. We could believe that most of our town is Christian and those who aren’t in church on Sunday morning just haven’t found the right fit yet. We could believe, as one of my most committed ladies in my church told me that “we shouldn’t have to invite people to church, that they should know they need to be in church.” We can’t believe that anymore.

                The reality is this, Muldrow is filled with people who are hurting and in need of the hope that only God can provide. Pain fills our pews, our classrooms, and our roads. I sit next to them, see them get on the school bus, and wave to them on the roads, but I don’t know their hearts or imagine their pain. As a pastor, I know of people who struggle with alcohol, struggle with depression, and struggle with maintaining their most important relationships, but most people I encounter keep me in the dark about what keeps them up at night.

                So what do we do? Do we fight to keep the 10 Commandments on the walls or do we make sure that God’s laws are written on our hearts and lived out in our lives? Is it more important to wage a legal battle about freedom of religion or is it more important to wage a spiritual battle for the souls of our neighbors. I am proud to be a part of the Muldrow Ministerial Alliance, a group of Christ-centered Pastors and churches who are consumed with working together for worship, service, and fellowship in our community. We are wrestling with this issue, and I stand in agreement with them. It is vitally important that we support our administration and our school board. They have laws that they must follow to run a state and federally supported school. They did not initiate these 10 Commandments to be taken down, but they understand the position that the school is in. There is a school board meeting on Monday night at 6:00 P.M., and we are inviting all our church members to go to support the administration.

 I am encouraged to see our Muldrow students take a personal interest in keeping the 10 Commandments in their schools. Not because I think they have the 10 Commandments memorized, but because in their hearts they believe that God is important. They have a desire to have t-shirts made that represent their faith and their feelings. I’m glad that the Alliance has agreed to help make these shirts and give them to our students to wear on Wednesday May 15th to school. (If a Muldrow student is interested in a shirt, go to www.muldrowag.org/about) My advice to every student that wears a shirt is to read the shirt and abide by it. The ironic struggle of wearing a 10 Commandments shirt is the danger of making the 10 Commandments an idol. The best definition of an idol I’ve heard comes from Pastor Timothy Keller who defined an idol as “making anything, even a good thing, an ultimate thing.” If you are wearing the shirt and the fighting for the 10 Commandments causes you to look down at someone who is not wearing it or creates a hostile divide among your fellow classmates, please don’t wear it. If you wear the Commandments, then live the Commandments.

It’s critical that we realize that we can’t let the schools do the church’s job. Our school is filled with wonderful Christ-centered teachers, administrators, and staff. Their job is to love these kids and give them the best education. Our teachers have a difficult enough job without giving them the additional personal responsibility of teaching the faith. Teaching the faith is the mission of the church. We must find ways to meet the students in our community where they are, and give them the love of Christ. We must make Christian education a priority both as a church program and as a ministry of parents and guardians.

Most of all, we must learn that Muldrow is a “Christian Community,” but it is a “Community of Christians” with the mission field not in Africa or in China but on Shawntel Smith, Redland Road, and 64B. As I think about the 10 Commandments being taken down in our schools, I’m reminded of the Book of Esther, the only book in the Bible that doesn’t mention God’s name, but just because he is not mentioned does not mean he is absent.  It tells the story of a Jewish woman named Esther who became queen of Persia and thwarted a plan to commit genocide against her people. At the key moment of the story, the wise older Jewish leader named Mordecai encourages Esther to be brave and confront the King of Persia to save her people, while risking her life. He tells her, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Maybe together, we are here in Muldrow for such a time as this. A time to wake up to the reality of the mission around us to bring Christ to our neighbors and be Christ for our neighborhood. It’s time to be the church.

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “10 Commandments, Muldrow, and the Mission Field

  1. Jim Jones

    > The reality is this, Muldrow is filled with people who are hurting and in need of the hope that only God can provide.

    The reality is this, God won’t help you or them. Be a patriot and stand up for the constitution of the United States. Then follow Matthew 6:5-6.

    • Rob

      Freedom of religion means that if a whole bunch of Muslims move into your town and hire Muslim teachers, they cannot force your Christian children to wear burqas or pray to Mecca. Likewise, freedom of religion does NOT mean that a majority of Christians could likewise force non-Christian students to pray and learn the Ten Commandments at school.

      If it did mean that, there would be nothing stopping authority figures of false religions holding school assemblies to teach your kids lies, or trying to brainwash your kids AWAY from Christianity. For example, Scientology *loves* to try and distribute cult materials through community programs and educational presentations, where parents aren’t around to intervene or contradict them. They’ve tried it a few times in my district, and would have gotten away with it if someone hadn’t been alert enough to catch them. If religious freedom only works by majority rule, there’d be no recourse if, a few decades down the line, enough outsiders move in and voted to subject the whole town to this sort of thing. It’d be wrong for outsiders to force an alien faith down the throats of your kids in a mandatory public school. That’s why it’s in the Constitution. But free religion has gotta work both ways, or it can’t work at all.

      I know it might seem in the short term that Christianity is being suppressed, but in the long run, freedom of religion *protects* religion. It’s counter-intuitive, sure, but if you want to be sure your kids and grandkids can be safely raised faithful, your best bet is to keep religion out of public school curricula, take your kids to church, and let them learn about Jesus from a safe source – from their pastors or their parents..

      • Indeed.

        “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
        – Thomas Paine

    • Aaron,

      Great thoughts! As someone who likes to engage the public square as a leader, I appreciate the way you are handling this situation. It is a great opportunity to look at the mission field and see what is there. We are hurting and we need to offer something real, and that is Jesus Christ. Too often, we get caught up in symbolic expressions, because we want to hang on to what was in the face of a culture and society that is ever changing and is unlike what we believe it to be.

      This is the time for the church to engage our communities in loving and holy ways. We shouldn’t get sidetrack on symbolism – what is a sign really – but instead point others to the true hope and true grace and true love.

      To the poster above who proclaims that we should be patriots, I would caution and ask where is God in that approach? Our first devotion is to God and not to country. Even more, we are not called to be patriots. We are called to be messengers of Christ’s love and presence. We cannot do that if we are more worried about a nation falling than we are about the church not being the living representation of Christ in our world today.

  2. Rusty Yates

    This is a brave kid. Certainly not a sheep. We need kids that will stand up to those that would use the government to force their religion on others.

    Good thing we live in a secular country and don’t have to be a Mormon in Utah, Roman Catholic in Boston, or Jewish in New York City. Freedom from religion is important to everyone, religious or not.

    • HBelle

      I would hardly say that posting a sign on the wall is “forcing” religion on anyone. I went to school at Muldrow. The sign was never even mentioned! It’s just there if you want to read it and it is easily ignored if you want to ignore it.

  3. Fern Real

    Pastor Tiger, I think your thoughts are thought provoking. I am not a deep thinker nor do I know psychology. I am a simple woman with a deep conviction that God is my creator, that he sustains life and is in control even when it appears that he is not.
    My frustration is that a small few are able to change the course of life as I grew up knowing, not just here in Muldrow but in the entire USA. I think that in looking deep (as deep as I can) we have to come to the realization that we are a “Community with Christians”. In my 72 years I have witnessed many changes….changes in the church that have been good and others that have become very liberal.
    I believe we all know what liberal theology is without having a degree but we have chosen to not ‘think’ for ourselves but let others do our ‘thinking’ for us. So now in the small town of Muldrow we are suddenly faced with removing our Ten Commandments from our school.
    For 20 years on the first Thursday of May I have been privileged to be leader of a group that has organized the National Day of Prayer for Muldrow. For 20 years I have been encouraged yet saddened by the small number that are interested. We have many school children involved, (with the cooperation of the administration) yet very few parents or grandparents attend to watch them or be involved in prayer for our nation. Dare I suggest that if it was a sporting event of any kind that attendance would be much greater?
    I might also dare to ask the Christians of our community…where were you? Is not prayer one of the most, if not THE most, important weapons we have against the enemy of our soul as well as the very soul of our families, our neighbors, etc.?
    Our fight is not against those who want to remove the Ten Commandments, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” .I call our community to prayer!

    I

    • aarontiger

      Fern, I completely agree with your call to prayer! God loves this community and the people in it more than me or you or anyone else in this community. Let this situation lead us to our knees.

  4. Susan

    Somewhere we Christians must take a stand. Our faith is not being taken from us, we are freely giving it away. What better place than small town America? What better people than children? If we are ashamed of our faith, Christ will be ashamed of us. If the children want the Commandments posted, give them a chance to make the choice. The Constitution does not guarantee freedom from religion. Give in on this and will you give in when they want to remove your church signs? How about when they say your crucifix offends them? I see this community of Christians as Defenders. As Christians we should stand behind them. Public education is just that. We have allowed it to teach our youth things that directly conflict with our beliefs. Our excuse is that should be taught in the home or the church. Well, we are living the result of that ideation. The gist of this rant is that my thoughts and prayers are with these valiant defenders. We ARE here for such a time as this.

    • roz77

      “If the children want the Commandments posted, give them a chance to make the choice. ”

      They don’t get to make that choice. They can wear shirts with the 10 Commandments and wear cross necklaces and pray all they want, but in a public school, you can’t have a vote that decides that the school is going to blatantly endorse Christianity. It doesn’t work that way.

      “The Constitution does not guarantee freedom from religion.”

      It does actually. Supreme Court says so. The 1st Amendment includes all religions as well as non-religion. If you’re interested, read Justice O’Connor’s opinion in Wallace v. Jaffree.

      “Give in on this and will you give in when they want to remove your church signs? How about when they say your crucifix offends them?”

      That’s obviously not true. Church signs are the property of the church. The government cannot force the church to take down church signs (assuming they not inside of a public school.) Assuming your talking about crucifix necklaces, students cannot be forced to not wear those. They are clearly a personal expression of religious faith which is very obviously allowed in public schools.

      ” We have allowed it to teach our youth things that directly conflict with our beliefs.”

      Except for actually teaching religion. There’s no place for Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, OR atheism in public schools. That should be kept to homes and churches. And before you bring it up, taking down the 10 Commandments is NOT pushing atheism in schools. Putting up a sign that actively says that the bible is false and that there is no god would be an atheist sign, and that would not be allowed either.

      “The gist of this rant is that my thoughts and prayers are with these valiant defenders. We ARE here for such a time as this.”

      Your prayers aren’t going to do a whole lot. Precedent was set 33 years ago in Stone v. Graham. Sorry.

  5. It seems to me for anyone to oppose the ten commandments, is to oppose the laws of our land. After all, the laws that we all must abide by in this country were written in accordance to the ten commandments.

    • Ryan

      “It seems to me for anyone to oppose the ten commandments, is to oppose the laws of our land. After all, the laws that we all must abide by in this country were written in accordance to the ten commandments.”

      Except for the fact that the countries constitution was not written in accordance with the 10 commandments. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli – “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”

    • Roald

      Please list the commandments that are not common to all societies (theft, murder) that form the basis of US law. I will not hold my breath because I have never gotten a response to this question when I ask others.

      • Soothsayer

        How about the first five of them: 1) I am the Lord your God… 2) Thou shall have no other gods… 3) Thou shall not make any images…for I am a jealous God… 4) Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain… 5) Remember the Sabbath… While the other five arguably are common across most societies, the first five are particular to Judeo-Christian (and especially the Judeo part) tradition.

    • andrewacooper

      Compare the First and Second Commandments and the First Amendment, and then get back to us.

  6. David Hyles

    Muldrow, as well as every small and large community across this country, is founded on one phrase ” one nation under GOD “, period.

  7. David Hyles: Actually “Under God” was not added to the pledge or money until the 1950s, almost 200 years after the US was founded. Please keep your facts straight, we are in no way a Christian nation. America was founded on the belief that no one should be persecuted for their beliefs.

    In the case of this school, while no one is being persecuted, the actual law will prevail. This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. I believe that there is a place and time for religion and it is not in school, unless you go to a religious school or are in a class for religion. School should be about making everyone feel included and safe. In this case, an Atheist or someone of another religion felt unincluded or offended.

    With that being said, I do believe that students have the right to wear religious symbols and shirts to school. It falls under freedom of speech. Many shirts that say and show worse things have been allowed in school under this law. Just because the school is not allowed to showcase the commandments, doesn’t mean a student can’t have their own personal religion. Students can privately pray as well, it just can’t be teacher or school led. So keep that in mind when the plaques come down. Belief in God should be personal only and not forced on anyone. Period.

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  9. Soj

    OK, I guess – but you slipped up at the end. It’s not a “xtian community” ok; its also not a “community of xtians”. It’s a community that includes some xtians and some who aren’t xtians. I hope that was a typo but fear it was a Freudian slip, LOL!

  10. Because the school has the ten cammandment up above the door, doesn’t. Mean everyone has to believe in them, but don’t take my rights away to pray and believe in god

    • andrewacooper

      How, exactly, does the presence or absence of the Ten Commandments affect your “rights to pray and believe in god”? Surely you can continue to pray and believe if the Ten Commandments are taken down.

  11. Linda

    Pastor Aaron , What I heard from this young man on the news tonight. Is he being bothered by the Ten Commandments . Something he doesn’t believe in how can that be how can he be bothered by a God that he can Not hear ! Why is he so bothered if he doesn’t believe in God ? If we can’t have the Ten Commandments in the class rooms can we put it on the bill board out in front of the middle school ? We will keep this young man and his family in our prayers .

    • andrewacooper

      Nobody would dream of stopping you from erecting a billboard, on private property with private money, with the Ten Commandments. The issue is that this is a public school. Students can take copies of the Ten Commandments to school with them if they like; they can wear t-shirts of the Ten Commandments; they can even stand across the street carrying Ten Commandments signs. The *only* thing that they can’t do is have the school officially endorse the Ten Commandments.

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