Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Humility and Board Games

I am convinced that one of the ways that the Lord is working to make me more humble is through playing games with my wife. At this point in my life there are only a few things more humbling than losing at every single board game I play against my wife. I have lost to her at checkers, Sorry, Chinese Checkers, Scrabble, and now Scene It! But I am thankful for these little ministries of grace, thank you Lord for such a blessing!

Drugs for Jesus?

What do you make of this story?


An Inspiriation to My Faith

Yesterday I finished reading a wonderful biography of George Muller. If you are not familiar with Muller you will want to be! He is an amazing testimony and can be a wonderful inspiration to all Christians. In a day of such honest skepticism it is an astounding thing to read of a man who had such a faith as he had. Muller was the overseer of five orphan houses in his lifetime and never asked for a single donation, nor received a salary for his preaching. How did he get all the money to support over 1,000 children and his own family? He prayed beleiveing God would provide every cent at its needed time, and the Lord did. The motivation for Muller's project was to show to be a testimony to the faithfulness of God to the world. To show non-believers that there is a God, and to show beleivers that this same God can be taken at His word. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to you all as a wonderful introduction to the Life of George Muller.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Reformed Evangelists: A Conversation

A great conversation is going on over at the Together for the Gospel Blog between Mark Dever and J. Ligon Duncan. These two godly men are currently discussing who the better evangelists are: reformed types or non-reformed types. Some examination of statics in denominational growth and some prying questions from Mark regarding paedobaptism are included. A glance at this discussion might prove to be insightful for both baptists and paedobaptists.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Spurgeon Rhapsody

The following is a poem written by C.H. Spurgeon late in his life. Thanks to Tim for posting this quote, it is indeed a sweet expression of salvation and worship from a wise man.

All my soul was dry and dead
Till I learned that Jesus bled --
Bled and suffered in my place,
Bearing sin in matchless grace .
Then a drop of heavenly love
Fell upon me from above ,
And by secret mystic art
Reached the center of my heart .

Glad the story I recount ,
How that drop became a fount ,
Bubbled up a living well ,
Made my heart begin to swell .

All within my soul was praise ,
Praise increasing all my days ;
Praise which could not silent be ,
Floods were struggling to be free .

More and more the waters grew ,
Open wide the flood-gates few ,
Leaping forth in streams of song
Flowed my happy life along .
Lo , a river clear and sweet
Laved my glad , obedient feet !
Soon it rose up to my knees ,
And I praised and prayed with ease .

Now my soul in praises swims ,
Bathes in songs and psalms and hymns :
Plunges down into the deeps ,
All her powers in worship steeps .

Hallelujah ! O my Lord ,
Torrents from my heart are poured !
I am carried clean away ,
Praising , praising all the day .

In an ocean of delight ,
Praising God with all my might ,
Self is drowned . So let it be .
Only Christ remains to me .

Friday, February 24, 2006

Motherhood Undermines Womanhood?

That is the sentiment of prominent feminist thinker Linda Hirshman. Last year some signs developed suggesting a new trend to return to an old concept, "The Stay At Home Mom." This news was disturbing to Hirshman and she came out with pistols firing. Usually one thinks of feminists as male-haters, who assail every form of masculinity and endorse every form of female power- but here we have a woman who is stomping her foot to the rythm of an attack on her own gender. Al Mohler's blog for today relates the recent interview Hirshman did on "Good Morning America" over the terrible news of increasing stay at home moms. Mohler responds to the news coverage and Hirshman's own personal research wisely and biblically:

The Christian response to this article must be a combination of refutation, amazement, and affirmation of motherhood. Hirshman's article and media appearances can serve to remind us all of the unspeakably high calling of motherhood and to the sacrifices that so many women make, day in and day out, to the raising of children, the nurture of the home, and the shaping of civilization itself.

"Motherhood" most certainly is not a dreadful thing, and the "stay-at-home-mom" is not to be scorned or looked down upon, but rather she is to be lifted up and we should thank the Lord for such women. We should be thankful that more and more women are seeing the value and importance of the family, thank the Lord that even young women who graduate from Ivy League schools are seeing this. What lasting value is there in the work force? Certainly there must be some value, but it pails in comparison to the value of the home! "Stay-at-home-moms," I salute you this day!

I commend this blog entry to you: http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2006-02-24

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Dunham Family Vision

Randy Stinson, Director of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, in his article "Show Yourself a Man," from the recent issue of The Southern Seminary Magazine, listed 9 areas where the husband should lead out in the home. The article is an outstanding piece and I highly recommend all men to read it.

Stinson writes, "While manhood requires obedience to God, there is a particular context in which this will be worked out. In other words, the way in which Solomon is to work out his commitment to God will be particularly masculine. It is going to be in the context of leading, providing, and protecting. " "Biblical manhood is lived out in a particular manner, a manner that means while it has the same moral and spiritual constraints of biblical womanhood, it will many times look very different in its expression since it is seen most clearly in the role of leader, provider, and protector."

Within the article Stinson's list of 9 ways that a husband should lead in a home stands out as most impressive to me. Not only is it very counter cultural to talk this way, but in many Christian contexts it is even unheard of to speak of men as being so "active". I was particularly struck by Stinson's suggestion that husbands should initiate the development of a family vision. "This is the big picture," Stinson writes, "of what priorities your family should have, what you want your family to look like...what kind of home enviroment you want." He followed this suggestion up with an equally impressive one. Not only should we write up a vision for our family but we should map out a direction also, that is a map of how your family is going to fulfill its vision. "Here is where you map out the details of the vision. These are the daily, weekly, and monthly steps you are going to take in order to bring about the vision you have already agreed upon."

I was amazed by this rather simple suggestion, and so Krista and I took to the task and composed our own family vision and direction. This task was not only fun but it helped us to think about what we most wanted for our family and how we could best achieve it. I have posted our family Vision and Direction on my article's page, which can be found to the left under the title "Links" and "David's Articles". I'd encourage all husbands to consider doing this task to help your families think about where you are going and how, exactly, you are getting there. Let's be leaders in the home to the Glory of God.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Nothing Blue Under the Sun

After reading Donald Miller's best-selling book on spirituality Blue Like Jazz, Dr. Mark T. Coppenger agrees with King Solomon, "There is nothing new under the sun." In a lecture sponsored by the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on Feb. 22 Coppenger gave his thoughts on the dangers of Blue Jazz Spirituality.

Miller's book has held its place as Amazon.com's #1 best-seller in religion and spirituality, and has sold over 150,000 copies. It's chief attribute of praise is the style of writing. Most of those who have take the time to read this work exalt Miller as an accessible and delightful writer. The reason being, as Coppenger points out, it is "stream of conciousness writing." There is no easy form of writing than Blue Like Jazz, it requires very little of its writer and even less of its readers. So to say that Miller's book is a good read is to say very little about its worth at all, for anyone can write like this. Looking beyond the mere stylistic issues, however, Dr. Coppenger examines what exactly Blue Like Jazz is blue like, he lists 10 comparisons.

1) It's Blue like Blue States- After proudly defining his spirituality as void of politics Miller writes very politically. He not only ridicules and derides every form of republican he can think of, but his own personal website is nothing but a democratic party endoresment (contianing links to MoveOn.org and the ACLU among other groups).

2) It's Blue like Blue Light Special- Miller is, esentially, a marketing guy. His desire is to avoid dialogue or talk that will shut people out. So in this vein he suggests that instead of being critical of others we should be more self-effacing. Certainly this is the way to get people to listen to you, but it's not really deep authenticity. It's the same sort of gospel light that Church Growth gurus have been spewing for years. This is a marked contrast with the apostle Peter, who at Pentecost called out sinners to repent- in other words he was critical.

3) It's Blue like Blue Blood- Blue blood refers to those individuals who were so wealthy that they never had need to work outside, they had slaves and servants to do the work for them. By staying inside all day, however, these people gained no tan and their blue veins shown through more fully than others. What Coppenger means by comparing Miller's work with blue blood is to say that for all his talk of anti-elitism, he is merely a different kind of elitist. If you're a West Coast character who just wants to hang out and be mellow he's "cool with you," but if you've got the field tan from working door to door with the gospel and preaching sin and doctrine then you're looked down upon.

4) It's Blue like Berry Blue Jello- The content of this book is like "nailing jellow to the wall," Coppenger says. "He's so all over the place. It's stream of conciousness theology." Whatever one feels is good, wherever you want to go with it is fine. It's everywhere and nowhere all at once.

5) It's Blue like Blue Oyster Cult- The book has the feel of the 60s. Listing all the favorite ideas and fads of the 60s Coppenger comes to conclude that while some good may have come out of the 60s to repeat it now is silly. And furthermore, he adds, "Appreciation of the 60s was not universal." There is a bit too much being assumed by Miller in this book, for one thing he supposes that everyone has this same sort of sentiment about a free, rebellious type of youth. It's just not true.

6) It's Blue like Black and Blue- The focus of the book seems to be Miller's scars and bruises. His 13 Paradigm shifts indicate very plainly that he's been hurt. The church has left him scarred and wounded. But "we've all been shot," Coppenger states as he goes on to give a rather humorous list of his own battles within fundamentalism. We could all lift our shirts and bear our scars, but what about the good that the church has done? By completely ignoring and almost flatly denying the good within the church Miller should bee seen as obsessive and hung up on these wounds.

7) It's Blue like Working Blue- "Working blue" is a phrase found often in comedic entertainment. It refers to those who throw in "dirty-talk" and obscenities for cheap laughs. Which is exactly what Miller does on several occassions, even mocking those who oppose swearing.

8) It's Blue like Paps Blue Ribbon- "I know far to many people who have been destroyed by alcohol to think it's funny," said Coppenger. Miller's familiarity with beer was an offense.

9) It's Blue like Blue Ice- Blue ice is the material from restrooms dumped, sometimes on peoples homes, from airplanes in flight. In this comparison Coppenger notes that Miller's book often dumps his own brand of blue ice on much that is beautiful about Christianity. He dumps on all theology, on the five solas, on pro-life, on doctrinal statements, essentially saying that all those who agree with these things should simply "lighten up". Russ Moore said Miller is like Schliermacher with a soul patch and Coppenger agrees. Schliermacher sold out the faith for a sort of romanticism, saying that spirituality is all about vague emotion an "feeling", it appears that Miller is echoing thos sentiments. To the author reason puts a straight jacket on spirituality, which of course is not the truth of Scripture or history. "It's existentialism," says Coppenger. Reminiscing about the battle for innearancy that took place both within the SBC and within Evangelicalism at large, Coppenger stated that if you put Miller and his crew in charge of seminaries we'd have the theologically liberal invasion all over again. "It's frightening," he concluded.

10) Finally it's Blue like a Blue Screen- You all know about the blue screens and green screens that weathermen use to do their reports. It looks like one thing but it is really all "smoke and mirrors". Miller's conclusions about "reaching people" may look like their are time tested and reasearched methods but, Coppenger states, they are merely "just doing whatever you want." Miller hates the church, and so his method of evangelism isn't antying sacrificial, it's not for the sake of the generation, bashing the church and being "honest about it's failures" is what he likes to do. The author speaks of the events at Reed College, where he went to school, and the sort of moral depravity that went on there. The school sponsores a love festival in which students run naked and get drunk and do all sorts of depraved things, and then they have a confessional booth in which Christians don't merely listen to the students confessions but in fact confess their own sins, things like "We're sorry for the Crusades." This is just the sort of method of evangelism that appeals to Miller, but it is not a method tested and researched for effectiveness. In developing his methodology in this way as well, Coppenger adds, Miller has typified the entire generation. What about those for whom "love festivals" don't appeal? To typify the generation in this way is to miss a large portion of it.

In conclusion Dr. Bruce Ware asked of Dr. Coppenger an explanation as to why this book is so loved even within conservatism. Coppenger wisely noted that Miller does indeed speak openly about the faults of the church.Today people want the truth beyond the politics and many think that Donald Miller is giving them that by peeling away this layer of trivial dogma. But, he noted, "Paul, Augustine, and Luther did it too, and yet they kept their theology. When Paul hit town there was a riot, when Don Miller hits town people just get mellow." And certainly many will appeal to the few good things in the book as a defense of its value. But Miller dables in heresy, saddles up next to known heretics and pagans, and beats down historical theology. And if all you've got to gain by reading this book is some "good writing," then it should be sufficent reason to leave it alone to say "anyone can write this way."

No there is nothing new under the sun, and while Miller mis-understands completely Jazz, he certainly seems to have a lot in common with other blues, but nothing with substance, and even less with Biblical support. So, Coppenger concludes, Blue Like Jazz is the same old soft-sell gospel light that has been re-packaged, and the church shouldn't buy.

Mark Coppenger, Donald Miller, and A Little Jazz

Dr. Mark Coppenger, Distinguished Professor of Christian Apologetics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will be giving a lecture this morning on the highly popular book Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. The book has been a hailed favorite among young people and found amongst the circle of those who call themselves "Emergent". The book does, however, have many shortcomings and I hope to hear Dr. Coppenger speak on those this morning. I will post my notes from the lecture here at Weirsein Bettler this afternoon for those who may be interested.

Speaking of "Jazz," Krista and I were able to hear an amazing live jazz band last evening. The Jason Harms Quintet (piano, drums, guitar, bass, and sax) performed a concert here at Southern's campus. The Concert, sponsored by both the School of Church Music and The Institute for Christian Worship, was a testimony to the beauty of God's creation. In creating music God has given to men a wonderful means of expressing their joys, sorrows, heart questions, and loves. The Quintet proved to be not only stellar musicians, but outstanding witnesses to the truth of the Gospel, the satisfaction of God to the soul, and the sufficiency of Jesus. The band hails from Minneapolis and their home church Bethlehem Baptist, otherwise known as the home church of preaching pastor John Piper.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

G.I. Joe vs. Ken

This is an outstanding article from Dean P. Johnson of the L.A. Times. It's a fresh reminder of real manhood in an age of ever-increasing metrosexuality. Thanks to B.J. Maxwell for posting this article on his weblog and bringing it to my attention.


Show Yourself a Man

The Winter 2005 edition of The Tie, the official magazine of Southern Seminary, tackles the all to important issue of Biblical manhood. In our present time issues surrounding gender are hotly debated and highly confused. As more people, dissatisfied with a binary gender, try to develop "different gender options" we are in a desperate need to have a clear and Biblical presentation of what it means to be a man.

The January 30th edition of Newsweek detailed the concerns that many have over the current status of young men. The issue's cover story, titled "The Boy Crisis," delineates the high rate of failure boys are experiencing in school. The reason for this, the article suggests, may have a great deal more to do with fatherly involvement and education than with merely adolescent nature. In The Tie, for this semester, President Al Mohler has crafted a brilliant article on the acheivement of manhood. "When Does a Boy Become a Man?" presents 13 marks of Biblical manhood that fathers should be educating and training their sons in. I list them below:

1) Spiritual Maturity Sufficient to Lead a Wife and Children
2) Personal Maturity Sufficient to be a Responsible Husband and Father
3) Economic Maturity Sufficient to Hold an Adult Job and Handle Money
4) Physical Maturity Sufficent to Work and Protect a Family
5) Sexual Maturity Sufficient to Marry and Fulfill God's Purposes
6) Moral Maturity Sufficient to Lead as Example of Rightouesness
7) Ethical Maturity Sufficient to Make Responsible Decisions
8) Worldview Maturity Sufficient to Understand What is Really Important
9) Relational Maturity Sufficient to Understand and Respect Others
10) Social Maturity Sufficient to Make a Contribution to Society
11) Verbal Maturity Sufficient to Communicate and Articulate as a Man
12) Character Maturity Sufficeint to Demonstrate Courage Under Fire
13) Biblical Maturity Sufficient to Lead at Some Level in the Church

In one bold faced quote the article says, " When does a boy become a man? The answer to this must go far beyond biology and chonological age. As defined in the bible, manhood is a functional reality, demonstrated in a man's fulfillment of responsibility and leadership."

You can request a free subscription to The Tie online at: www.sbts.edu/resources/publications/magazine.php

Monday, February 20, 2006

Captivated by Curling

The sport of curling goes largely un-heard of until the winter olympics. It hasn't had the popularity of skiing or snowboarding or hockey, yet this year the event is grabbing a great deal of attention.

Culring's history is rather hard to uncover. It's origins are largely unknown and hotly debated between the British and Scottish. The earliest records of a game like curling date back to the late 1500s, but it is most likely that similiar games, ancestors of the current model, date farther back than that. This years teams in the Olympic Games are quite captivating to watch. The U.S. Men's team, in particular, is grabbing a great deal of attention now as they have clinched a place in the Olympic Medal round. Their fame is increasing, as is evidenced by the Culring website's crash earlier this week from so many hits.

Pete Fenson, team leader for the Americans, has shown his talent time and time again. His accuracy rate sometimes being in the 90 percential. Though losing to team Canada this morning the Americans will go onto the Medal round and fight for victory. As millions at home watch in anticipation and their support grows I can only turn now to thank my good friend Chris Crocker. It was my best bud in early high school who turned me on to curling when he did a speech report on the sport. So in hopes that I will not appear to be merely another Johnny-come-lately I will appeal to this event as evidence of my longtime captivation with curling. Thanks Chris!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Prayer Concerns

I have started working at UPS and am grateful for this job. I worked two days this week and will work a full week starting on Monday. Your prayers are coveted as Krista and I try to adjust to the new schedule (my working hours are from midnight to 4 a.m. which affects my sleeping and eating schedule). Also I would ask that you all pray for Krista's grandfather, Walt Roe. He is in the hospital currently for some surgery and I know his family is nervous for him.

Thank you to all of you who have been so consistent in your prayers and love for our family, this is a wonderful evidence of the grace of God working through His children to one another.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thoughts on Picking a President

Tom Ascol, director of Founders Ministries, has posted a two part series on thinking through the election of a new SBC President. His first entry on this topic announces the candidacy of Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock Georgia. This announcement raised many questions in Ascol's mind and he posted some of them online; the questions were: (1) What kind of person would make a good president of the SBC? (2) What kind of process is there- or should there be- for a person to be nominated for president? (3) Is it good to have more than one candidate nominated for president of the SBC? (4) And who are some other folks that SBCers would like to see nominated for president?

Some of these questions are very important and at the heart of them is a question that asks really who is in charge of the Southern Baptist Convention. Of course we know that the answer is the local churches, but who is running things behind the scenes? The recent controversy over the new IMB policy and trustee Wade Burleson have caused many to raise their eyebrows and ask questions about the politics of the SBC.

The second entry of Ascol's on this topic adds some helpful thoughts to this discussion. Ascol is correct in asserting that whoever the president is for the SBC is not ultimately significant for local SBC congregations. In a denomination of free churches no one or entity outside of the local church can ultimately affect that local church. But he is also correct in asserting that the election of a new president is nonetheless important to all SBC churches. We are part of denomination which reflects, supposedly, what we stand for. That being said it is our duty to pay attention to these issues, and be a means of encouraging, growing, building up, and correcting this body. For those interested in these entries I'd encourage you to check out the Founders Blog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Valentine Poem

I wanted to give this first to my wife, but now that she has seen and read it I will post it here:

The Flower of My Youth

To the flower of my youth, you are ever more to me
The same sweet blossom that I first found you to be.
Neither withering, nor fading in your iridescent glow,
Shining all the more radiant through the fire and the snow.

To the flower of my youth, I picked you from the soil,
And placed you in a vase, and yet your blossom does not foil,
In love you grow, in familiarity you rapture.
I never become accustomed to your elegant stature.

To the flower of my youth, though you often feel
As though the world’s frost-bitten steel
Would you cut you from your life
I stand a guard to defend you, my flower and my wife.

My love is not vapid, it does not merely cajole
It works to water and to nurture the bud of my soul.
O, sweet flower of my youth, not a moment older in my heart
Yet so much more loved, that from your scent I shall ne’er depart.

The Pastor as More than a Preacher

It's an old joke that the preacher only works one day a week. That day being, of course, sunday, when he preaches. So, it is asserted, he must have an easy life and an easy job. To be certain there are some pastors who may only work one day a week. Some men who have no real understanding of the Biblical requirements and standards for pastoral ministry, men who print out sermons off the internet Saturday night, and who do little more than monitor the events going on at the church's building. But these men, however, are not truly demonstrating pastoral ministry.

The Pastor is to be more than simply a preacher, that certainly not less. Preaching is the main responsibility of the pastor, but to preach Biblical messages that encourage, edify, correct, convict, and call out Christians and non-believers takes a great deal of work. The preperation of good sermons is a week long process that requires hours of study and contemplation and great amounts of prayer. That is not to say that one must have formal training to be able to comprehend the Bible, it is merely to say that for any of us to fully understand a passage and to formulate the theme of that passage and its application to life is going to take effort and time. So in that respect alone the preacher works more than simply one day a week. But he does more than just prepare one sermon a week, and indeed more than two or three sermons a week (if his church has preaching services on Sunday and Wednesday nights).

The pastor is more than a preacher. He is, as the Puritans said it, a physician of the soul. It is the pastor's duty to care for and encourage the flock. To minister to souls, to show concern and delicate care for the congregation. The New Testament refers to the pastor as a "shepherd". Shepherds are those who take care of, lead, and defend their sheep, thus it is the responsibility of every good pastor to know how the members of his congregation are doing in their spiritual health, in what ways the need encouragement, and in what ways they need correction. It is the pastor's job to defend the church against heresy and error, which infiltrates every church on many occasions throughout its existence. In single pastorates the senior pastor is the one who receives phone calls at 4 a.m. to meet members of the church at the hospital, to pray for a brother or sister in urgent need, to schedule numerous meetings for counseling, and to take numerous "drop-ins". To say that the pastor works merely one day a week, is to fail to grasp the responsibility of the pastor described in the New Testament and manifested throughout history, particularly in the Puritan pastorate. But such is not suprising, for who has time to read history and examine the Bible for a thorough theology of pastoral ministry, save those who are pastors.

I mean after all non-pastors work all day, clean house, take care of kids and families, change the oil in their car, fix the sink in the kitchen, take out the garbage, prepare a meal, and then go down to the church to serve and worship. There's just not enough time for such things as reading Puritan history and pastoral theology. If such is the case, however, for those who work regularly scheduled jobs and then come home, how can it not be so for someone whose whole life is ministry? A pastorate is more than a 9-5 job, it is more than a profession (hence John Piper, a pastor/theologian, has written a pastor's book titled Brothers, We Are Not Professionals), it is a life of ministry and service. Paul is the best example of this as he devoted all of his life to building churches, writing letters, praying for others, and giving and suffering all things for the sake of God's people. May there be more pastors like him, and may there be more congregations that joyfully come to see this truth and who will make their pastor's ministry a joy (Hebrews 13:17) and not a burden.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Piper's Surgery This Morning

For those of you who know John Piper, prolific speaker, author, and pastor/theologian, and also know that he has cancer please pray for him this morning. He is scheduled to have surgery.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Morning Meditation on Romans 6:6

We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6)

“Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” Those are the words of a wise English Puritan, John Owen. Owen wrote often on killing sin, and he meant just that…kill it! Jesus himself in Matthew 5 spoke of killing sin. He said, “If your right eye causes you to sin tear it out and throw it from you.” And also, “And if your right hand causes you to sin cut it off and throw it from you.” The response to sin is a violent one, and so it should be, for it takes a seriousness and a vehemence to end sinful habits!

There is much that could be said here but for the apostle Paul it is enough at this time to say that the Christian’s “old self was crucified with Him…” The old self, that is the old nature, the unregenerate person that we were before Christ saved us, that self is crucified. It is dead! That’s why Paul has already written, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” It’s a question of continuous un-repentant sin that Paul has in mind here. He is concerned that some will say, “Well since Jesus died for the punishment of my sins then I can continue in my sin and fear no repercussions.” For Paul such a view proves that one is indeed not a Christian at all, merely a formal religious person. Genuine faith in Christ produces continuous striving for holiness.

Sin is always at our heels, however. As long as we are living on this earth in these corruptible bodies, we will be prone to sin and prone to wander. But there are steps to take in killing our sin!

First and foremost let us be reminded (as Paul is doing here) that our Old self was crucified with Christ. Remember that as a Christian, born again believer in Jesus Christ, you are no longer held captive to sin. You are free! In Christ there is a freedom to obey Him, love Him, serve Him, glorify Him, that as a non-Christian you do not have. Remember Christ crucified and remember your old self with Him. Thanks be to God, our Father, whom through Jesus Christ, reconciled us to Himself, pardoning our sins and crediting to us the righteousness of Christ. Our old self is dead and our new self has the righteousness of Christ that we may indeed stand before the Holy Judge and not be destroyed.

When we battle, when we struggle, when we fight and face the terrible temptation to sin, let us remember that there is one who has freed us from its bonds, and has given us the grace and strength to resist sin and live for the glory of God!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Telling the Truth About Death

The preaching which Krista and I are sitting under while here in Louisville has been a blessing to our souls. This morning at Immanuel Baptist Church pastor Ryan Fullerton preached from John 8:51 and challenged us all to think about the promises of Jesus contained within that verse. I have posted here my sermon notes from this message in hopes that it will go forth and bless others.

Feb. 12, 2006 Ryan Fullerton
John 8:51

Someday we will all die. How does this truth affect how we live today? This is really a rare question in the modern culture. Usually people ask how one's past has shaped them (we see this especially in modern psychology which asks questions about one's childhood and parents). But knowing that we will all one day die shouldn't we be asking about how this future event shapes us today?

- How does death shape us?
Across the pages of scripture we have clear teaching on how death shapes man. (1) Through fear of death man is in slavery to sin. Hebrews 2:14-15 reads, "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." Through fear of death man is subject to a life long slavery, a spiritual bondage to sin. So what is the motivation to sin? Fear of death. (2) People are afraid of death because of its sting. 1 Cor. 15:56 reads, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law." Death has a sting, like a killer bee, and that sting is sin. The power of sin is the law, meaning that there is a punishment for sin.

These two facts are the reasons why we see people clinging to the good things in life as if they are all that they have. Children, wives, jobs, cars, security is their whole world because after death they have only punishment. This fear to death enslaves others to the destructive things of this life. The desperate pursuit of pleasure through drugs and alcohol are an attempt to avoid thinking about the reality of death. Others are enslaved to self-righteousness because admitting they are wrong is a testimony to a higher standard, which points equally to their deserved punishment for not meeting that standard. So we find men everywhere enslaved to sin because of fear of death. There can be no change in man, then, until this fear is removed. If you wish to transform pastoral counseling, transform church congregations, transform people and nations enslaved to fear then you must point them to the promise of John 8:51, "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."

-The promise of this text:
(1) Who can never see death? Anyone, if they keep Jesus' word. If this seems hard and indeed impossible do not fear. John 17:6 testifies that those who keep Jesus' word are not flawless and pefect. Peter, John, and James (among others) are those whom Jesus prays for in this passage and their sins were many and some are even recorded in the Bible. Yet Jesus says they are those who kept His word. So we stumble in keeping Jesus' word, but the King is gracious to His faultering saints.

(2) Whose word must be obeyed? God's word. Jesus is God. The amazing thing to note here is that it was God who said we would die (Gen. 3, Psalm 90), yet here it is God who says we will never see death (John 8:58). We must not only believe God's words of condemnation, but also the words of God's Christ. He says "truly, truly" because He wants us to believe it!

(3) What's the promise? That we will never see death. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). Yes our lungs will one day cease to fill with oxygen, our hearts will stop beating, but our eyes will never close in darkness. God, in Christ Jesus, has tasted death for us and we will never taste it (Luke 23:43).

- How does this truth affect our lives today?
(1) It makes a difference when we are suddenly hit with calamity, for it means that this calamity does not have to be ruled by anxiety.
(2) This fear of death no longer drives us to cling to the good things of this world.
(3) This fear of death no longer drives us to cling to the destructive things of this world. For with God you can face up to your own sinfulness, because of Christ.
(4) You don't have to be enslaved to timid missionary efforts. We can proclaim the gospel with boldness, no matter where we are, because we do not cling to this life.

"Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, for the body they may kill, God's truth abideth still"- Martin Luther (A Mighty Fortress)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's Not the Original

The lack of ingenuity and creativity within current filmaking is sometimes good and sometimes bad, depending on the film. The number of re-makes in the last 20 years is astounding. Certain re-makes were a bust (i.e. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) others were a smash hit (i.e. The Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, & Pride and Prejudice). Pressing its way through the crowd of modern copies is the newly released Pink Panther.

I was a huge fan of the original films. The slap-stick and sheer comic wit of this version made it a favorite among movies I enjoy. In the newly released version Peter Sellers is replaced with comic genius Steve Martin. As I anticipated the arrival of the movie to the big screen (released Friday) I watched every commercial with excitement. Well after having finally seen the film I am now prepared to give a brief commentary.

Martin does a fantastic job with echoing the clumsiness of Inspector Clouseau, which was done so wonderfully by Sellers in the 1964 version. There are moments in the film that are by far some of the most hilarious bits I have seen in quite sometime. Martin pulls them off flawlessly. But inspite of this there were a few let downs: (1) There is no Kato, and (2) the use of sexual innuendos.

The latter of these two faults is more significant. On repeated occasions within the film Clouseau is engaged in some act which from an onlooker appears to be some sort of sexual activity. The seeming "need" for modern films to include sexual innuendo into every movie is only evidence of the lack of intelligent writing. Neither scene was worth much more than a cheap laugh. Good comedy, however, can sell its audience on slap-stick without reverting to the cheap and tawdry. So my final conclusion, I suppose, is that the film has moments that are so well crafted that it seems like a fresh of breath air in modern cinema, but in the end it still has a long way to go to pass or even meet the standard of the original.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Is this Genuine Revival?

Theologian J.I. Packer defines revival as "a work of God by His Spirit through His word bringing the spiritually dead to living faith in Christ and renewing the inner life of Christians who have grown slack and sleepy." In light of recent news coming from Asbury College one must ask, "is this what is happening there?"

The college has reported that for three days large numbers of students were found in the chapel praying, worshiping, and confessing. One student remained until 4 a.m. and returned again at 7 a.m. “God continues to move across the campus,” said Dr. Paul A. Rader. “We have had students in Hughes Auditorium continuously since Monday at 10 a.m. when God came in such power and blessing during our Student Chapel. Last night at midnight there were several hundred in Hughes." What does this mean?

It's hard to say at this point. For years Asbury has lived in the past, desiring to re-duplicate the revival that broke out on their campus in 1970. Students are bombarded with the news of this historic occassion and pressured to bring it about again. This fact alone puts such current events into doubt. Yet one cannot rule out completely God's working these events by His Spirit for true revival. Jonathan Edwards, one of the key figures God used in the Great Awakening, gave a concice listing of the marks of true revival. Packer labels them as follows:

-Awesome sense of the presence of God and the truth of the gospel
-Profound awareness of sin, leading to repentance and love of Christ
-Uninhibited witness to the power and glory of Christ
-Joy in the Lord, love of His people, and fear of sinning
-A speeding up of the work of grace so that men are struck down by the Word and transformed by the Spirit in short order

If these marks are occuring at Asbury then perhaps we are seeing true revival break forth on that campus again. Most likely only time will tell if what is occuring here is genuine. If there is lasting fruit that comes from this we praise God- if, however, we see another case of Charles Finney's "burned-over districts" then we will regret to pronounce this highly unlikely as a work of the Spirit.

For now we wait with anticipation, pray for our brothers and sisters at Asbury, rejoice with them in love of the Lord, and trust that God, in His sovereignty, will use this to sanctify people as He pleases.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


In the entry below I posted a link to the weblog of Steve McCoy. Unfortuantely I misspelled his name, as McKoy. Thanks for correcting me Steve, and I apologize for that error. It is McCoy, not McKoy. The spelling of the name is a mistake, identifying the link as worthy of investigation, however, is not. So check it out.


Narrowing the Field Further

The controversy within the IMB over the acceptance of their newest policy and the request for the removal of Wade Burleson is growing in public knowledge. Tom Ascol, Tim Challies, and others within the blogosphere have written on it. Hershel York, a professor here at Southern Seminary, has expressed his approval of the new policy, while many others, like Wade Burleson (trustee of the IMB), have expressed their disapproval. But in my discussions I have only been dealing with one issue related to the controversy.

There are two pieces to the new policy adopted by the International Mission Board of the SBC: (1) No "Private Prayer Language", and (2) Only a Baptism in an SBC church, or one that teaches eternal security, is valid. The latter of these two additions is as equally disturbing as the first. It not only continues to narrow the field of cooperation that the SBC will have with others, but it is very presumptious and arrogant. Tom Ascol, on his blog at the Founders' site, states that this new policy on baptism would exclude many great Baptist leaders from our heritage , including Benjamin Keach and Abraham Booth. There is a danger for SBCers, in this new policy on Baptism, to dance on the boarder of Landmarkism and to isolate themselves from any fellowship with non-SBC groups. This is not unity in the Kingdom of Christ, this is exclusion and elitism. It is confusing essentials with non-essentials, and standing for pride and arrogance instead of love and cooperation. It is as if the trustees for the IMB are saying only those of the SBC are truly our brothers. I am sure that is not how they really feel but its the message they are sending and it is a sad one to be sure.

Steve McKoy's "Missional Baptist" Blog is keeping up with the changes and the current controversy over this issue in the IMB. If you want to continue being informed I recommend you check this site regularly: http://www.stevekmccoy.com/sbc/

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I had my job orientation last night with UPS. Thank you, everyone, who has been praying for my getting a good job, I believe the Lord may have answered that request. This is a good job, the work shouldn't be too hard, and the benifits are great for our little family.

For those wishing to continue praying for us, please pray that I will be able to do my job well, to stick out any tough nights, to not get injured or injure anyone else, and that this job will, as well, open up a door to evangelism among men whom I work with.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mocking Mohammed

Being a Christian I do not, of course, believe in any of the tennets of Islam. I believe the entire religious system is false, yet the outrage over the cartoon that is circling in the news has led me to think about the "persecution" of Islam in the media.

Statements of the insidious nature of this cartoon have been issued by numerous nations, state departments, and institutions. Mocking Mohammed is being hailed as a serious offense to a religious group, yet it strikes me that these same institutions, nations, and state departments were nowhere to be found when cartoons mocked Jesus (or plays, or poems, or NBC's recent television flop, etc.). So it seems that it is considered morally reprehensible to mock any religion, except Christianity. You can mock Jesus, just not Mohammed! How frustrating, how hyprocritical! What should Christians do? Should we riot in the streets? No. John Piper reminds us well of just one difference, among many, between Islam and Christianity. Christians do not seek to kill the cartoonist who mocks them, they seek to call him to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We do not pray for the mocker's damnation, but for their salvation. Christianity has and will continue to be hated by the culture, but it will continue to be the responsibility of all Christians to pray for those who persecute us and to love them enough to point them to Christ. As Paul said, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them" (Romans 12:14). And how can you bless someone who persecutes you? By sharing the gospel with them and praying for the salvation of their soul.

Here's a great commentary on this news story: http://www.challies.com/archives/001641.php

Don't Remove Burleson

I have hesitated to write any commentary on the IMB's decision to disallow any of its missionaries to practie speaking in tongues because others have done a fine job of discussin this issue. I do not personally believe that the Bible allows for the continuation of this Spiritual gift, but I also do not believe that being dogmatic about that fact is necessary. The IMB has altered their requirements for missionary status with the institution based upon neither a Biblical mandate or anything found within the Baptist Faith and Message, the convention's statement of faith. This in and of itself is frustrating, but it got worse recently.

Last month the Trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board called for the removal of a fellow trustee, Wade Burleson. Burleson, senior pastor of Enid, Emmanuel, former president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (2003-05), expressed his disatisfaction with the board's decision when it was made on Nov. 15th. Since the trustees meeting last Jan. (9th-11th) the other members of the board have called for his removal. Burleson's comments, posted online via his weblog (www.kerussocharis.blogspot.com), were public, which has made many uncomfortable. But this board must answer to the body of the Convention, that means the local SBC churches across the nation, and I see no problem whatsoever with Burleson's making public, what is and should be public knowledge.

The decision to remove Burleson is really nothing more than an attempt by the board to isolate those who disagree with them. In accepting this policy concerning tongues the board has knowingly forbidden its own president, Jerry Rankin, from being a missionary. What will this say to the outside world? How will this effect the witness and cooperation of the IMB? The problem with this new policy is not that it takes aim at "private prayer languages," but that it diminishes, unnecessarily, those with whom the SBC can cooperate. Many Bible believeing Baptists believe in this spiritual gift and should they be disqualified simply because the trustees do not? To be fair the trustees believe that they are trying to root out all doctrinal heresy within the convention- I applaud their motives, yet disapprove of their actions entirely.

That is not to suggest, however, that the convention should open its doors to everyone. I am not one to pull for compromise within the SBC. But I believe we are to be dogmatic about the essentials and not dogmatic about the non-essentials. If churches and individuals profess to be Southern Baptist, adhere to the Baptist Faith & Message, demonstrate conservative and biblical church life then why should we disallow their fellowship and work with the IMB? If we are not careful the SBC will exclude other groups within Southern Baptists (Calvinists, Amillenialists, etc.) . The desire to demonstrate doctrinal purity and oppose any resurgance of liberalism within the convention is noble- but the trustees of the IMB should beware, as well, any inclinations towards fundamentalism, for it has as many damaging effects.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Death at the Movies

In the last two evenings I've watched some old films, both dealt with death in some manner and each in a different manner, though neither in a Biblical manner. It's interesting that death has become so humorous in America. We are almost calloused to it. So the story of one particular woman from a few years ago stated that she hoped to be cremated and placed inside here Tazmanian Devil cookie jar. After being placed in this jar she would rest next to her mother whose ashes were contained in a Bugs Bunny cookie jar. To her death was her last chance to have fun.

In the two movies I watched this weekend, both well done films, death is portrayed not so much as funny, but as something only slightly better than funny. In Chances Are Robert Downy Jr. plays Alex Finch, a young Yale graduate struggling to get a job at the Washington Post. But after meeting and "falling" for Miranda Jeffries and joining her at the home of her mother Alex begins to remember a past life- former husband to Corine Jeffries and father to Miranda. Of course this discovery makes for a quite humorous story, with plenty of bizarre happenings. In this film the worldview or philosophy is that of New Age Spirituality. Louie Jeffries is reincarnated into the body of Alex Finch and, we are told, that the circle will continue once Alex dies. He too will be reincarnted.

This particular worldview suggests that after death the spirit goes enters into a higher state of conciousness and is reincarnated and returned to the earth as another person or thing. This is the message that Alex himself gives to Miranda after the near fatal collapse of one woman. So death in this film is not absolute or final and there is certainly no judgment to face, only a new life and a fresh start.

In the other film I saw this weekend Brad Pitt plays Joe Black. Joe Black is an alias for the true name of Pitt's character, however, which is "Death". Based on the original film "Death Takes a Holiday" (1934), the story revolves around media tycoon Bill Parish who acts as a tour guide for death, who decides he wants to learn about life, in exchange for a few more days with his family. The message of this film, concerning death, is really rather interesting. Death is seen as somewhat scary at times, but overall, it is a charming and if not comforting friend. For Bill Parish it is the end to a beautiful life with "no regrets". It is a marvelous film that has a manner of captivating its audience. The acting, the story, and even the mood music are stellar. Even in its older age as a film it stands as a wonderful piece of work- yet its conception of death is somewhat distorted.

Death is not a friend, that much is can be certain. In fact death is not even an unfortunate part of life, it is a result of the curse of sin. Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden and for their rebellion against God death was brought into existence. Now for the Christian who has repented of their sins and confessed Jesus as their Savior from just punishment for sin death is the gateway to eternal life in the joyful presence of God. So in some sense death may be a delight for the Christian. But for the non-Christian this is not the case. The end of this life for those who continue in rebellion against God is only hell and punishment- and in that respect no amount of wishing thinking about Joe Black will be any comfort.

Movies tell us alot about what the modern public thinks. Death is, to be sure, not something many of us like to think about, and so we don't- but these movies reflect a sort of hope in the afterlife that is not only confused but wrong. O, if Christians would love their neighbors enough to tell them about hell- to warn them about it! Trust me friends, you can't rely on holywood to speak the truth about the afterlife, it is our duty!

John Rogers on Neglect of the Bible

In the 1620s Puritan John Rogers gave a lecture on the neglect of the Bible to some 500 listeners. John Howe reports, on what he heard of that great lecture, in the following words:

He personates God to the people, telling them, "Well, I have trusted you so long with my Bible...it lies in such houses all covered with dust and cobwebs; you care not to listen to it. Do you use my Bible so? Well, you shall have my Bible no longer." And he takes up the Bible from his cushion, and seemed as if he were going away with it and carrying it from them, but immediately turns again and personates the people to God, falls down on his knees, cries and pleads most earnestly. "Lord, whatever thou dost to us, take not thy Bible from us; kill our children, burn our houses, destroy our goods, only spare us thy Bible, take not away thy Bible". And then he personates God again to the people: "Say you so? Well I will try you a while longer; and here is my Bible for you, I will see how you will use it, whether you will love it more...observe it more...practice it more, and live more according to it.

May we treasure God's word more than we do!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

How Can I Help?

All of us know people who struggle, who are going through difficult times. Maybe its stress, loss and grief, depression, or just agnst. Whatever the circumstance it is sometimes very hard on friends and family to watch that person struggle. It often breaks our hearts and frustrates us that we cannot "fix" the problem. So what can we do? Honestly, I don't know. Sometimes I haven't a clue what to do, but I've listed below some general help tips that we can put into practice.

1) Listen. Before we ever speak we must listen. Know the full extent, seriousness, and the nature of the problem. We are so quick to speak and often what others need is simply someone to listen to them and let them talk. Talking is sometimes a great cure itself for problems, especially stress related.

2) Do Your Homework. The worst thing we can do is speak on something we haven't the slightest clue about. If you've not contemplated and overviewed some of the details of OCD, don't try to give advice on it. The worst thing to do is to simply tell someone to stop doing something that is simply beyond their immediate control.

3) Don't Over Emphasize. There is a tendency among some to overemphasize the biological in problems. Depression, OCD, and anger are often narrowed down to be problems of the brain or chemical imbalances. This is wrong because it is not always the case and it removes responsibility from the person. The other extreme, of course, is obvious: to overemphasize sin. There are almost always heart issues involved in struggles, but beware merely labeling struggles as the results of sin. Job's friends did this and God corrected them, far be it from us to do the same.

4) Be Humble. You haven't got it all figured out! We are all sinners, we are all trying to persevere in the same world, and we all need the grace of God. Don't throw around advice frivolously, don't mock, don't belittle. This is not the Christian attitude and it most definately does not help. Listen intently, take the problem seriously (because it is serious to the one going through it) and treat the problem with an awareness that you may be just as prone to it.

5) Pray. The often overlooked element of counseling! Prayer is a means of grace by which God gives aid to His children in need. We can give counsel and help direct the steps of another in need but if we have not saught God's aid it will all be in vain. It is only by God's grace that one overcomes anything and by not seeking it we are demonstrating the height of arrogance.

There some simple but oh so important steps to take. I pray I would adhere to them more myself, and that you will find them useful in your own life.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brian McLaren's Ambiguity on Homosexuality

Brian McLaren, leader in the emergent church movement, posted on Jan. 23 a "lesson" on the need for pastoral care in dealing with homosexuality. Certainly his concern to be pastoral in what has often been treated horribly by evangelicals is to be commended. We should indeed be gracious and loving towards homosexuals. His post, however, makes no clear statement about the sinfulness of homosexuality. Infact one has to wonder if McLaren even believes that same gender sex is a sin at all. He writes about the emergent community saying, "Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality." This should send up red flags!

Mark Driscoll, one of the nations leading evangelical speakers, has called out McLaren on his ambiguity. Driscoll, with thick sarcasism, has responded that McLaren has failed to grasp the clear Biblical postion on homosexuality. McLaren's response to Driscoll was less than satisfactory and the former has returned with a very clear and pointed question: Do you personally believe that all sexual activity between two persons of the same gender is always a sin?

That is the question that needs to be answered by McLaren. All the emergent issues aside there is much that this will say about McLaren as an evangelical figure. We wait with anticipation for his answer. To check out the details of this debate click the links below: