These are Joel Osteen's words from an interview he did at FoxNews.
WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I've got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?
OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that's what I believe, so, you know, I'm not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.
And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don't think he would — anything would stop me from voting for him if that's what I felt like.
WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?
OSTEEN: I probably don't get hung up in them because I haven't really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don't know.
I certainly can't say that I agree with everything that I've heard about it, but from what I've heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that's a common bond.
For full transcript click here.
Click here for details on the Mormon religion.
Click here to see a comparison of Christianity and Mormonisim.
Monday, December 31, 2007
These are Joel Osteen's words from an interview he did at FoxNews.
Yes, the Chargers' 30-17 win Sunday at Oakland in the regular-season finale was a day for adding to their streaks and milestones, but the talk in the locker room quickly shifted gears to focusing on the AFC playoffs.
Tagged by Justice at 12/31/2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Tagged by Justice at 12/28/2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Is Mormonism now a part of the American mainstream? That question raises a host of issues -- including the question of what constitutes the "mainstream" now anyway?
There are two questions here. One has to do with the status of Mormonism, the second with the definition of the mainstream.
I must answer the Mormon question first, and from two perspectives. As an evangelical Christian theologian, I must clarify that Mormonism is in no way consistent with orthodox Christianity. It borrows Christian themes and texts, but its most basic beliefs directly contradict the central teachings of Christianity.
Mormonism holds that God is an exalted man, with a physical body. Christianity teaches that God is Spirit. Mormonism denies the historic Christian understandings of the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, and the doctrine of salvation. Christianity promises salvation through Christ's atonement and the sinner's justification by faith. Mormonism promises deification. Christianity calls for personal faith in Jesus Christ. Mormonism calls for obedience to its own teachings as the path to exaltation. Mormonism replaces belief in the sole authority of the Bible with other writings, including the Book of Mormon. This list is only a brief summary of the vast chasm that separates Christianity from Mormonism. Put simply, Mormonism is not just another form of Christianity. It is a rejection of historic Christianity.
That is a theological summary, but there is a sociological dimension as well. From that perspective, Mormonism can certainly claim to have achieved a comfort level in contemporary American culture -- especially in what might be called "Middle America." Most Americans would feel quite comfortable with Mormon neighbors. The Mormon effort to identify with American culture has been stunningly successful, and the movement's idealization and inculcation of family values has won it the admiration of millions of Americans -- including many evangelical Christians. The convergence of Mormon and evangelical Christian concerns on a host of cultural, moral, and political issues is no accident. The preservation and conservation of the family is a prime concern of both groups.
Now to the question of the "mainstream." When sociologist Will Herberg wrote his famous work, Protestant-Catholic-Jew in 1955, he was describing what then appeared to be the mainstream of American religious life. The Protestants he described were members of the "mainstream" or "mainline" denominations that, for the most part, became associated with groups such as the National Council of Churches. Evangelicals were largely, if not entirely, left out of that picture.
Fast forward to the present and those "mainstream" denominations have been losing members by the millions while evangelicals have been in a period of rapid growth. The new American mainstream certainly now includes the evangelicals. From a sociological or political perspective, no one can ignore the evangelicals. By the same token, in vast areas of America -- especially in the West -- Mormonism is certainly a part of the cultural mainstream as well.
Both evangelical Christians and Mormons have, to some extent, worked hard to enter that mainstream. To a considerable extent, both certainly hope to remain there. Yet, I wonder about the prospects for that. As "mainstream" America moves in any number of directions, and as our current cultural shifts take shape, both evangelical Christians and Mormons may find themselves outside the mainstream once again. Issues including family life, sexuality, the definition of marriage, and any number of social, cultural, and moral controversies may drive both groups out of their cultural comfort zones -- and fast.
The challenges of modernity confront both groups. How long will this "mainstream" remain the mainstream? Time will tell.
Tagged by Justice at 12/21/2007
Logan is a 13 year-old boy who lives on a ranch in a very small town in Nebraska. Logan listens to Christian Radio station 89.3FM KSBJ which broadcasts from Houston, TX. Logan called the radio station distraught because he had to take down a calf . His words have wisdom beyond his years.
Since airing the audio of the phone call and now the making of the video clip, it has taken on a life of its own. People are forwarding it all over the world. We encourage you to share the love of Christ with anyone you can.
If you are wondering if this is real or a hoax - it has been verified.
Tagged by Justice at 12/21/2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This is from the White Horse Inn and is one of the best discussions I have heard on the subject. It is only about 45 minutes long and is worth your time.
What is worship? We've seen in these programs on this theme of "to God alone be glory" that we were created to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Of course, the Fall threw this design out of whack and ever since we seek to glorify and enjoy ourselves. The ultimate goal of our redemption in Jesus Christ is to restore in the midst of creation a choir that sings God's praises, answering back "Amen" to all that he is and has done. If we had plenty to sing about before the Fall, we have even more reason for praise and thanksgiving after we have been redeemed from its curse. What a wonderful and very important subject for us to talk about "what is true worship?" Beyond the worship-wars and all the superficial issues and questions about organs and guitars we want to go to the theology of worship. What does it mean to worship the true God in the way that he's prescribed?
Click here to listen to the roundtable discussion.
This is a hilarious list that had me and my wife in tears. It was put together by C Michael Patton over at the Parchment and Pen blog.
20. ”I am not overweight. The word ‘glory’ in Hebrew is kabod which according to HALOT literally means ‘heaviness.’ The Bible also says that we are to reflect God’s glory. Therefore, I am just doing what the Bible says.”
19. “Looking at you makes me reconsider preterism, because you are heaven on earth.”
18. “Paul said that it was better to marry than to burn. Therefore, I am under God’s mandate to marry you.”
17. “Here, let me take care of those tithes.”
16. “You may not have chosen me, but I have chosen you.”
15. “I could not help but notice you were exegeting me instead of the text during the sermon.”
14. ”Your name must be grace, because you are irresistible.”
13. ”There are six things that motivate me to talk to you, yea seven that turned my head.”
12. “Until this moment, I thought I had the gift of singleness.”
11. During communion say, “Can I get you another drink.”
10. “The Bible says that God is not concerned with outer appearance . . . neither should you.”
9. “The Good Book said that I might be visited by angels unaware, but something must be wrong with my interpretation, because I am perfectly aware of you.”
8. “I noticed you crying during alter call, can I help?”
7. While giving her a TULIP say, ”This Totally depraved person has been Unconditionally drawn to you, Limiting himself to your Irresistible beauty that is Persevering beyond all others.”
6. “God may be the bread of life, but you are the butter.”
5. “The site of you leaves me apophatic.”
4. “Well, gouge out my eyes and cut off my hands. If I hang around you much longer, I won’t have any limbs left.”
3. “You must have missed The Fall line, because you are lookin’ righteous.”
2. Sing this to the tune of George Strait’s “Chair”: “Excuse me, but I think you’ve got my rib.”
1. “Are you homo or homoi?”
FOXNews.com today published 21 questions that it says represent “some widely held beliefs and misconceptions about Mormonism” and answers provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since some (not all) of the Church’s answers were less than forthright, I will offer straight answers to the same questions. Fox’s questions appear first in bold type, followed by the Church’s responses in italics, and then followed by my answers.
Q: Why do some call the Church a cult?
A: For the most part, this seems to stem from a lack of understanding about the Church and its core doctrines and beliefs. Under those circumstances it is too easy to label a religion or other organization that is not well-known with an inflammatory term like ‘cult.’ Famed scholar of religion Martin Marty has said a cult means a church you don’t personally happen to like. We don’t believe any organization should be subjected to a label that has come to be as pejorative as that one.
The above answer makes no attempt to understand why some people call the LDS Church a cult. The term is characteristically used by evangelical critics of Mormonism to denote a religious group that professes to be Christian but that deviates from essential Christian doctrine in one or more areas. By “essential Christian doctrine” evangelicals mean those teachings that historically Christians of all of the major denominations have taught: monotheism; God as Creator of all things other than himself; the Trinity; the Incarnation; salvation by grace alone; and the virgin birth, sinless life, sacrificial atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension, and second coming of Jesus Christ. Since Mormonism departs from historic Christianity on some of these doctrinal issues, we have no choice but to conclude that it is a “cult” as defined above. If you don’t like the word cult, feel free to substitute in your mind an equivalent expression, such as “heretical sect” or “unorthodox church.”
Click here to read Rob Bowman's response to the rest of the questions.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I love these words and line of thinking from J.C. Ryle. He is dealing with the words from Hebrews 12:2 and I love this paragraph from that message.
"Looking unto Jesus" is a very simple expression: it is soon spoken and soon written; it contains no words hard to be understood. But it is an expression rich in contents, and filled to the brim with food for thought. Here is a brief account of the Christian's character: he is one who "looks to Jesus." Here is the secret of running successfully the race that leads toward heaven: we must be ever "looking to Jesus." This is the way to begin well; this is the way to go on prosperously; this is the way to end in peace. Here is the photograph of patriarchs and prophets, of apostles and martyrs, of holy fathers and holy reformers, of holy saints, in every land and age: they were all men who "looked to Jesus." Here is the marrow of all creeds, and articles, and confessions of guilt: to "look to Jesus." Reader, if you and I wish to be saved, let us begin by asking ourselves the simple question, Am I looking to Jesus?
To read more click here.
There were a number of consistent response patterns revealed in the research. Those patterns included the following:
Born again Christians were far more likely than non-born again adults to accept each of the six narratives as fully accurate. On average the difference between the two groups was forty percentage points! In relation to four of the six stories tested, the born again group was twice as likely as their counterparts to view the story in question as literal truth.
Protestants were more likely than Catholics to accept each of the six stories as literally true. Catholics especially struggled to put their faith in the Old Testament stories. Examining a dozen Bible evaluated in this manner by The Barna Group in surveys in October and December, about half of all Catholics trusted the Old Testament stories evaluated, compared to about three-quarters believing the New Testament stories. Meanwhile, among Protestants, in relation to all six of the scriptural narratives, those who attend mainline churches were significantly less likely than those attending other Protestant congregations to say that they trusted the stories as told.
People who live in the South were more likely than residents of all other regions to embrace the truth of all six stories.
Downscale individuals were substantially more likely than upscale people to characterize each of the six stories as factually reliable.
Those who portrayed themselves as mostly conservative on political matters were substantially more likely than those who called themselves mostly liberal to consider each of the six stories to be literally true. The average difference between the two segments was 26 percentage points.
For full results of study click here.
1. He was omnipotent over disease. Matt. 8:1-4; Luke 4:39
2. He was omnipotent over demons. Matt. 8:16-17, 28-32; Luke 4:35
3. He was omnipotent over men. Matt. 9:9; John 17:2
4. He was omnipotent over nature. Matt. 8:26
5. He was omnipotent over sin. Matt. 9:1-8
6. He was omnipotent over traditions. Matt. 9:10-17
7. He was omnipotent over death. Luke 7:14-15; 8:54-56; John 11:4
8. He was omniscient, knowing the whereabouts of Nathanael. John 1:48
9. He was omniscient, knowing the plot of Judas. John 6:70
10. He was omniscient, knowing the hearts of the Pharisees. Matt. 12:25; Luke 5:22; :8;7:39-40
11. He knew the thoughts of the scribes. Matt. 9:3-4
12. He knew the sincerity of one scribe. Mark 12:34
13. He knew the history of the Samaritan woman. John 4:24
14. He knew the problems of his disciples. Luke 9:46-47
15. He was omnipresent. Matt. 18:20; 28:20; John 3:13; 14:20
16. He was worshiped as God by the angels. Heb. 1:6
17. He was worshiped as God by the shepherds. Luke 2:15
18. He was worshiped as God by the wise men. Matt. 2:2, 11
19. He was worshiped as God by a leper. Matt. 8:2
20. He was worshiped as God by a ruler. Matt. 9:18
21. He was worshiped as God by a Canaanite woman. Matt. 15:25
22. He was worshiped as God by a mother. Matt. 20:20
23. He was worshiped as God by a maniac. Mark 5:6
24. He was worshiped as God by a man born blind. John 9:38
25. He was worshiped as God by Thomas. John 20:28
26. He was worshiped as God by some Greeks. John 12:20-21
27. He was worshiped as God by his apostles. Matt. 14:33; 28:9
28. He forgave sins. Mark 2:5, 10-11
29. He judges. John 5:22
30. He saves. Matt 18:11; John 10:28
31. Stephen called him God. Acts 7:59
32. The eunuch called him God. Acts 8:37
33. Paul called him God. Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:15-17; 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:16; Titus 2:13
34. Peter called him God. 1 Pet. 3:22; 2 Pet. 1:17
35. Jude called him God. Jude 25
36. James called him God. James 2:1
37. John called him God. 1 John 5:20; Rev. 1:18; 19:16
Sunday, December 16, 2007
1. He had a human parentage. Luke 1:31; Gal. 4:4
2. He had a human body. Matt. 26:12
3. He looked like a man. John 4:9
4. He possessed flesh and blood. Heb. 2:14
5. He grew. Luke 2:40
6. He asked questions. Luke 2:46
7. He increased in wisdom. Luke 2:52
8. He prayed. Mark 1:35; Luke 11:1
9. He was tempted. Matt. 4:1; Heb. 2:18; 4:15
10. He learned obedience. Heb. 5:8
11. He hungered. Matt. 4:2; 21:18
12. He thirsted. John 4:7; 19:28
13. He was weary. John 4:6
14. He slept. Matt. 8:24
15. He loved. Mark 10:21
16. He had compassion. Matt. 9:36
17. He was angered and grieved. Mark 3:5
18. He wept. John 11:35; Luke 19:41
19. He experienced joy. Heb. 12:2; Luke 10:21
20. He was troubled. Mark 14:33-34; John 11:33; 12:27; 13:21
21. He sweat drops as of blood. Luke 22:44
22. He suffered. 1 Pet. 4:1
23. He bled. John 19:34
24. He died. Matt. 27:50; 1 Cor. 15:3
25. He was buried. Matt. 27:59-60
Tagged by Justice at 12/16/2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tagged by Justice at 12/14/2007
As believers we live in a world that is flawed and sinful. What hope is there? Trust fully in Christ my friend! With Christimas and a new year fast approaching trust in Christ alone. He really came as God in a manger later to die on a blood-stained cross for the sins of all who will believe and put their trust in Him. Put yourself, your flesh behind today and serve Him only.
The devotion this morning from C. H. Spurgeon gives me great hope and joy inspite of this evil, sinful world that we are living in today. Truly Christ makes all things new. Be encouraged, stand strong, place your full trust in the newness that only Christ has to offer. Spurgeon writes:
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. (Revelation 21:5)
Glory be to His name! All things need making new, for they are sadly battered and worn by sin. It is time that the old vesture was rolled up and laid aside, and that creation put on her Sunday suit. But no one else can make all things new except the Lord who made them at the first; for it needs as much power to make out of evil as to make out of nothing. Our Lord Jesus has undertaken the task, and He is fully competent for the performance of it. Already he has commenced His labor, and for centuries He has persevered in making new the hearts of men and the order of society. By and by He will make new the whole constitution of human government, and human nature shall be changed by His grace; and there shall come a day when the body shall be made new and raised like unto His glorious body.
What a joy to belong to a kingdom in which everything is being made new by the power of its King! We are not dying out: we are hastening on to a more glorious life. Despite the opposition of the powers of evil, our glorious Lord Jesus is accomplishing His purpose and making us, and all things about us, "new" and as full of beauty as when they first came from the hand of the Lord.
Tagged by Expositor at 12/14/2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Many people who profess to be Calvinists are surprised to learn that while John Calvin was opposed to the bad things that have sometimes come to be associated with Christmas, he wasn’t against keeping the holiday as a celebration of the birth of Christ and saw it as a matter of liberty for the churches and the individual.
We can gain insight into Calvin’s views by reading two letters, one written on January 2, 1551; the other in March of 1555. The relevant portions are below, followed by the full contents of both letters. One may observe that Calvin’s understanding of the Regulative Principle of Worship is not so much focused on the kind of uniform, narrowly limited kind of worship that came to be the legacy of Puritanism, but on protecting the liberty of local congregations and individuals. One must never forget that liberty of conscience, under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking in the Scripture, is a fundamental of fundamentals for John Calvin.
Click here to read more.
Tagged by Justice at 12/13/2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Tagged by Justice at 12/07/2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The gospel of Luke ends with a supremely jarring statement: “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (24:50-53).
What is jarring about this passage is, as Luke reports the departure of Jesus from this world, the response of His disciples was to return to Jerusalem with “great joy.” What about Jesus’ departure would instill in His disciples an emotion of sheer elation? This question is made all the more puzzling when we consider the emotions the disciples displayed when Jesus earlier had told them that His departure would come soon. At that time, the idea that their Lord would leave their earthly presence provoked in them a spirit of profound remorse. It would seem that nothing could be more depressing than to anticipate separation from the presence of Jesus. Yet, in a very short period of time, that depression changed to unspeakable joy.
We have to ask what is it that provoked such a radical change of emotion within the hearts of Jesus’ disciples. The answer to that question is plain in the New Testament. Between the time of Jesus’ announcement to them that He would soon be going away and the time of His actual departure, the disciples came to realize two things. First, they realized why it was that Jesus was leaving. Secondly, they understood the place to which He was going. Jesus was leaving not in order that they might be left alone and comfortless, but that He might ascend into heaven. The New Testament idea of ascension means something far more weighty than merely going up into the sky or even to the abode of the heavenlies. In His ascension, Jesus was going to a specific place for a specific reason. He was ascending into heaven for the purpose of His investiture and coronation as the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is King in the highest possible sense of kingship.
In biblical terms, it is unthinkable to have a king without a kingdom. Since Jesus ascends to His coronation as king, with that coronation comes the designation by the Father of a realm over which He rules. That realm is all creation.
The King is already in place. He has already received all authority on heaven and on earth. That means that at this very moment the supreme authority over the kingdoms of this world and over the entire cosmos is in the hands of King Jesus. There is no inch of real estate, no symbol of power in this world that is not under His ownership and His rule at this very moment. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, in chapter 2, in the so-called kenotic hymn, it is said that Jesus is given the name that is above all names. The name that He is given that rises above all other titles that anyone can receive, is a name that is reserved for God. It is God’s title Adonai, which means the “One who is absolutely sovereign.” Again, this title is one of supreme governorship for the One who is the King of all of the earth.
The New Testament translation of the Old Testament title adonai is the name lord. When Paul says that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow and every tongue confess, the reason for the bowing in obeisance and for confessing is that they are to declare with their lips that Jesus is Lord – that is, He is the sovereign ruler. That was the first confession of faith of the early church.
The lordship of Jesus is not simply a hope of Christians that someday might be realized; it is a truth that has already taken place. It is the task of the church to bear witness to that invisible kingdom, or as Calvin put it, it is the task of the church to make the invisible kingdom of Christ visible. Though invisible, it is nevertheless real.
These are some of the findings of a Harris Poll of 2,455 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Interactive® between November 7 and 13, 2007.
Interesting findings in this new Harris Poll include:
- 82 percent of adult Americans believe in God – unchanged since the question was last asked in 2005;
- Large majorities of the public believe in miracles (79%), heaven (75%), angels (74%), that Jesus is God or the son of God (72%), the resurrection of Jesus (70%), the survival of the soul after death (69%), hell (62%), the devil (62%), and the virgin birth (Jesus born of Mary) (60%);
- Roughly equal numbers – both minorities - believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution (42%) and creationism (39%);
- Sizeable minorities believe in ghosts (41%), UFOs (35%), witches (31%), astrology (29%) and reincarnation (21%);
- While many of these numbers for people who hold these beliefs are the same or little changed from 2005, the overall trend is upwards with slightly more people believing in miracles, angels and witches than did so two years ago.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tripp demonstrates though sound biblical principles how humanity is made by God to transcend far beyond the mere physical realm and is likewise created to be "glory junkies;" those whose visionary lives are governed by God's grand purposes rather than existing only within their narrow self-interested confines. Writes the author, "It is a fundamental denial of your humanity to narrow the size of your life to the size of your own existence, because you were created to be an "above and more" being. You were made to be transcendent." Tripp then shows Christians how to "transcend" through daily, moment-by-moment, practical methodology that transforms individuals into the image of Christ.
It is within this purpose-driven framework, this Quest for More, that Paul Tripp compels believers to see beyond the worldly deception of personal achievement, success, materialism, in order to break free from this ungodly fulfillment that is too easily satisfied with a mediocre walk with Christ. Instead the author invites committed sojourners to a life characterized by an unyielding passion that pursues God simply for the pleasure of His glorious company and in the process, affect eternal change in a hurting, hopeless world.
Tagged by Justice at 12/05/2007
Hear Edward T. Welch Talk About His Book Running Scared.
In Running Scared, Edward T. Welch reveals God's plan for encouraging those in the grips of fear. One of the haunting dilemmas of the human condition is that fear is "an inescapable feature of earthly life." Every person who has lived on this earth has encountered fear.
Tragically, for this reason our race for the good life finds us all too often 'running scared.'
In his new release, Running Scared, Edward T. Welch investigates the roots of fear in the human soul and the ramifications of living in the grips of anxiety, worry, and dread.
Welch encourages readers to discover for themselves that the Bible is full of beautiful words of comfort for fearful people (and that every single person is afraid of something). Within the framework of thirty topical meditations, Welch offers sound biblical theology and moment-by-moment, thoughtful encouragement for life-saving rescue in the midst of the heart and mind battlefield of rampant panic-stricken responses.
This comprehensive primer on the topic of fear, worry, and the rest of God will have readers retreating to scripture for invariable constancy, stalwart care, and robust comfort, instead of as Welch terms it, "hitting the default switch" by responding with characteristic human independence, control, and self-protectiveness. Running Scared affirms that, through Scripture, God speaks directly to our fears:
- On money and possessions
On people and their judgments
On death, pain, and punishment
Welch's lively text provides convincing evidences that humanity's struggle against active and dormant fears are countless. The good news is that God provides both the remedy and the cure for this malady in the person of Jesus Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, and through powerful, life-altering promises in Scripture. Far more than merely another psychology "self-help" guide, serves as a biblical roadmap to a life of serenity and security.
Tagged by Justice at 12/05/2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Fort Worth's Broadway Baptist wrestling with listing gay members in directory
A Fort Worth church continues to struggle with how to handle photographs of gay members in a pictorial directory that's to be part of its 125th anniversary celebrations.
Broadway Baptist Church has debated whether the directory should include gay couples, or gay people individually but not as couples, or whether to omit all individual and family photos.
Members were to vote Sunday after morning worship. But in a clear indication that they are divided over how accepting to be of homosexuality, they met for an hour and then postponed any decision until deacons make a recommendation on Feb. 24.
For full article click here.
Tagged by Justice at 12/03/2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Here R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, and Ravi Zacharias discuss post-modernism, modernism, liberalism, and the emergent church.
Tagged by Justice at 12/01/2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Watch three leading Republican candidates for President answer the question, “Do you believe everything in the Bible?”
HT: Said at Southern
Mohler to appear Friday on NBC News story about young evangelicals
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is scheduled to appear Friday, November 30, in an NBC News story about how young evangelicals, particularly those in the Emerging Church movement, are impacting the church and politics. Mohler was interviewed in Louisville on Tuesday by NBC newsman Tom Brokaw. The story is scheduled to run during the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which airs nationally at 6:30 pm Eastern Time. The broadcast is subject to change without notice.
Apparently contending for the faith has taken a back seat to the agenda of these two. Both of these men would do well to read the book of Jude and draw their clear differences for everyone to see. The price of getting along should never be at the comprise of the truth's that we hold dear. For evangelicals to come together with Mormon's is to put aside the distinctives that make us Christian. For me, that is unacceptable; Christ is the only bridge that can bring us together in spiritual unity.
Mormon / Evangelical talks hold key to Christian political unity
Robert Millet and Greg Johnson, authors of Bridging the Divide, set out to have a conversation that would mend wounds between two faith traditions with a history of deep enmity—the Mormons and the Evangelicals. They achieved their goal. An unintended consequence of their dialogues could result in a new voice of Christian unity that might have a profound political effect.
The back-story…Johnson, the Evangelical, was raised as a Mormon in Utah, had a personal encounter with Jesus in his mid teens and became Born Again. Millet is part of the intellectual aristocracy of the Mormon Church. Evangelicals do not recognize Mormons as Christians. Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon supercedes the Bible.
“Debates between Mormons and Evangelicals have been a common thing and you can certainly draw a crowd when you have that kind of an event because people want to see the fists fly.” writes Greg Johnson. But what Johnson and Millet had in mind was not a debate, but a dialogue. And to accomplish that, they had a revolutionary idea: to stop trying to convert each other. Johnson and Millet wanted a conversation without the pretence of conquest and the pressure for either to concede to what each hold sacred about their faith.
What started as a private talk ten years ago became public when the authors opened their dialogues to others, taking questions from Evangelical and Mormon audiences. To date they have appeared in over 50 churches and universities attracting as many as 1,600 people at a single event. Many come expecting a Mormon and an Evangelical debating each other; what emerges is an impressive journey over a fragile bridge that has divided the two faiths.
The current political implications are significant in Bridging the Divide. “Without question, the shared values and morals that both Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints hold dear are under sustained attack from a hostile unregenerate world, and if we do not discover ways to come together, we will surely suffer together” concludes Johnson.
Book and Author a Major Influence on WSJ Article, The Backlash Against Tithing
Click here for part 1.
On Friday, November 23, 2007 the Wall Street Journal published a written and online article, The Backlash Against Tithing, by Suzanne Sataline.
Georgia writer, Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D, the author of Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian's Conclusions About a Taboo Doctrine, was a major contributor of names and information for the article.
Kelly spent hundreds of hours pouring over old e-mails from the past six years to furnish names and information to the Wall Street Journal for this article. The following names and important data of key persons interviewed in the article were provided by him: Robert Barbour, Kirk Cesaretti, James Harnut-Beumler, Andreas Kostenberger, Kevin Rohr and Judy Willingham. At least three of these persons were influenced by his book.
The truth has been let out of the closet now. Praise God. Thank you Ms. Suzanne Sataline. As Kevin Rohr was quoted in the article, "All decisions to give and how much to give are between the believer and their God, not meant to be used as stumbling blocks or judgments against others." While many in prosperous countries should give more than 10%, the Christian is not under a percentage and should give for better reasons outlined to the Church.
Russell Earl Kelly, Author of Should the Church Teach Tithing?http://www.shouldthechurchteachtithing.com/
While I am not a supporter in any way of Joyce Meyer, I thought it would be fair to put her unedited words here and let you decide what you think in regards to her finances. While I have my own opinions - I will let you form your own.
Joyce Meyer Ministries: Response to Senator Grassley Inquiry
ST. LOUIS (11/28/07) – On November 6, 2007, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, formally requested the leadership of Joyce Meyer Ministries to provide detailed records and personal information pertaining to Dave and Joyce Meyer for his review.
While the ministry is not under obligation by law to submit this information; in keeping with our own high standards of fiscal responsibility, our respect for the democratic process, and our established tradition of transparency with our ministry supporters, we are preparing the requested documents for presentation to the senator’s office—on time (by December 6, 2007) and in full detail.
Our timely response to the senator’s efforts to ensure the financial accountability of all non-profits is a decisive demonstration of the high standard of fiscal responsibility that we hold ourselves to, above and beyond legal obligation, out of our deep commitment to our ministry partners and friends. We are profoundly thankful for the many Americans who help make this far-reaching global ministry and its charitable outreaches possible.
Those familiar with Joyce Meyer, who watch her television program, read her books, or listen to her messages of hope and strength, recognize that on a personal level, she and her husband, Dave, are deeply committed to a high standard of stewardship both in their personal lives and in the daily operations of the ministry. Each year, independently audited financial reports are made available to the public upon completion as a demonstration of our commitment to fiscal responsibility. (Click here to view 2003-2006 financial reports.) Joyce Meyer Ministries embraces this latest opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to transparency with our supporters and our dedication to the continual improvement of our own systems of accountability.
As a further demonstration of this commitment to our ministry supporters and our high regard for transparency, the ministry is also pleased to release at this time a supplemental document illuminating facets of the ministry that the senator has requested for review, Answers to Common Questions (see below) as well as information not specifically requested by Senator Grassley’s office. This document addresses recent inquires the ministry has received from members of the media in a specific and straightforward manner.
Delanie Trusty, CFO of Joyce Meyer Ministries stated earlier today, “We are deeply respectful of the senator’s efforts and are confident that the information presented to his office will exceed the senator’s high standards of review and the truth will be revealed— that Joyce Meyer Ministries and the Meyers are in complete compliance with financial regulations and each take such matters very seriously.”
For specific information about how ministry funds are spent, please visit www.joycemeyer.org/whatwedo
Supplement: Answers to Common Questions
Regarding Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Guidelines and Compliance - Just four weeks prior to Senator Grassley’s inquiry, on October 10, 2007, Joyce Meyer Ministries received a letter from the Department of the Treasury (IRS) informing the ministry that it is in complete compliance with IRS regulations and guidelines that govern the organization. (Click here to view the IRS letter.) This conclusion was reached after Joyce Meyer Ministries’ leadership voluntarily participated in an in-depth IRS review of ministry operations, as well as personal information related to Dave and Joyce Meyer. As the current requested information is similar, Joyce Meyer Ministries is confident this detailed review by the IRS will serve as a tremendous resource of information for Senator Grassley’s inquiry.
Regarding Compensation of Dave and Joyce Meyer - Joyce Meyer Ministries takes extra steps to ensure trust and confidence in giving for the partners and friends of the ministry. Each year, a complete, independent financial audit of the ministry’s activities is provided and made public. Joyce Meyer’s personal compensation is a part of this audit and the information provided. (Click here to view 2003-2006 financial reports.) Joyce Meyer does not receive any royalties or any form of compensation as a result of ministry sales of audio and video tapes, books, CDs, DVDs or any other form of media. In addition, Joyce Meyer does not receive the honorariums personally given to her as a result of the numerous speaking engagements she accepts each year. She requests these honorariums be given directly to the ministry.
Joyce Meyer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author, and her books have appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list multiple times. As a result, she is compensated by royalties produced from the sale of these books via bookstores worldwide and other retail and online outlets outside of Joyce Meyer Ministries. Because of the vast success of her books and other related materials that are produced independently of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Joyce Meyer is able to personally give generously back into the global media and mission outreaches of the organization. In the past four years, she has made donations to the ministry in amounts greater than she and her husband, Dave, have received in compensation from the ministry. (Click here to see letters of verification.) This is evidence of her commitment to excellence in ministry and proof that she would never ask the partners and friends of the ministry to do something that she is not willing and ready to do herself.
Regarding the Purchase of a $23,000 Commode - While many have mistakenly associated this piece of furniture with a common household toilet, this particular term actually refers to the classic definition of commode identified by Webster’s Dictionary as, “a tall elegant chest of drawers.” In 2001, when the ministry moved into its current 150,000-square-foot headquarters located in Fenton, Missouri, a significant amount of furniture was needed for the larger facility. This “commode” was one piece of a total of sixty-eight pieces purchased from a single supplier to finish out the interior of the offices. A total of $261,498.21 was paid for these sixty-eight (the majority were significant in size) pieces of furniture. The $23,000 purchase price of this chest of drawers was actually an errant value assigned by the selling agent after the transaction was complete for the entire sixty-eight piece lot. Joyce Meyer Ministries humbly regrets not paying closer attention to specific “assigned values” placed on those pieces that have now led to gross misrepresentations. Joyce Meyer Ministries takes financial stewardship and accountability very seriously, and this oversight serves as an opportunity to only improve future practices.
Regarding the Stewardship of Ministry Funds for Ministry Purposes - In 2006, 82 percent of all ministry funds received were used for outreach and program services directed at reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting the physical needs of the less fortunate all over the world. The ministry used 13 percent for administrative purposes, and just 5 percent was used for fund-raising activities. For 2007, the ministry is on track to maintain this level of stewardship and, because of the generosity of its partners and friends, will be increasing its global missions budget to more than $28 million. These specific mission endeavors to people of developing nations and the USA include feeding the poor, providing clothing for children and families, prisoner outreaches, drilling freshwater wells, ministering to the elderly, building new homes for the homeless, and caring for widows and orphans. (Click here to view reports of these mission endeavors.)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The fact that Christians are exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11), does not mean that they don’t care what becomes of culture. But it does mean that they exert their influence as very happy, brokenhearted outsiders. We are exiles. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
But we are very happy sojourners, because we have been commanded by our bloody Champion to rejoice in exile miseries. “Blessed are you when others . . . persecute you . . . on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12). We are happy because the apostle Paul showed us that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). We are happy because there are merciful foretastes everywhere in this fallen world, and God is glad for us to enjoy them (1 Timothy 4:3; 6:17). And we are happy because we know that the exiles will one day inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Christ died for sinners so that “all things” might one day belong to his people (Romans 8:32).
For full article click here.
"The Shopocalypse is coming! Who will be $aved? Let me exorcise your credit cards! Changellujuah!"
So go the pithy exhortations of "Reverend Billy"—the charismatic, feather-ruffling rebel at the center of the new documentary, What Would Jesus Buy? The film, which opens in limited release this Friday, takes a unique look at the epidemic of over-consumption in America, most egregiously evident during the Christmas shopping season—which begins in earnest next week. Reverend Billy and his "Church of Stop Shopping" are on a mission to apply the WWJD ethos to our shopping habits—forcing audiences to consider the implications (for themselves and for the world) of what they consume.
Lest the name confuse you, it should be made clear: Reverend Billy is not an ordained minister and doesn't even call himself a Christian. The preacher persona is simply a stage name for Bill Talen, an actor-turned-activist from New York City (via San Francisco). Talen grew up Dutch Calvinist in Minnesota but left the faith as a teenager. He adopted the "Reverend" title in 1997 as a way to creatively protest America's increasingly excessive consumerism and corporate homogeneity (with Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Disney being his version of the "axis of evil"). What began as his solitary street "preaching" in Times Square (the "Stonehenge of billboards") soon became a "ministry" of sorts—the Church of Stop Shopping.
Click here for full story.
CheckMyPC is a new program for Windows PCs that helps parents quickly identify content on their computer that is inappropriate for children. Children and teens face a growing number of risks on-line: exposure to inappropriate content (e.g. sites related to pornography, drugs, violence), on-line solicitation from predators and criminals, e-commerce scams and harassment. CheckMyPC performs thousands of checks to help parents immediately recognize signs of risky on-line behavior.
To learn more go here.
Pierre Ayotte, noted in his press release as a "friendly upcoming Internet opportunist"--i.e. not The Devil Himself, just to be clear--would like to rent your soul for ten bucks a week.
It's a new twist on an old non-profit business model. He's gambling on the chance that the soul-leasing business will earn enough money to stay afloat from the charities who pay weekly to advertise on his site, RentYourSoul.com.
Ayotte swears he's not working for Beelzebub. He'll pay you $10 and also donate $10 to the charity of your choice, selected from the nonprofits posting to RentYourSoul.
If you've ever been tempted to trade your soul for fame, fortune, or other significant gains, you're in good company: Homer and Bart Simpson, Dr. Faustus, Charlie Daniels' violin-wielding "Johnny," and any number of Blues players have risked perdition with the Prince of Darkness. One News.com staffer claims to have sold her soul in exchange for her almost supernatural Guitar Hero skillz.
Instead of skirting the fiery pit of eternal damnation, why not simply lease your soul for a good cause? It only takes a few minutes to post a photo of yourself, and if he posts your photo on the home page, you're soul-free for a week and ten dollars richer afterward. No, you can't have hordes of dancing girls and wealth beyond your wildest dreams in exchange. But you can have the satisfaction of a deed well done for the good of others.
What's the risk? It's an asset almost all of us possess, and chances are, you're not using yours anyway.
HT: Emily Shurr
Local church leaders will have to wait until next month to find out the fate of a proposed law that would prohibit the establishment of churches in industrial areas or in residential neighborhoods not on major streets.
The Moreno Valley City Council decided Tuesday to postpone final approval of the proposed law until Dec. 11, so that it can discuss the issues further with a council of pastors.
"When it comes back, we'll have a final recommendation," Councilman Bill Batey said. "We'll have direct input from the clergy and ministers in the city."
For full article click here.
Can you put a price on faith? That is the question churchgoers are asking as the tradition of tithing -- giving 10% of your income to the church -- is increasingly challenged. Opponents of tithing say it is a misreading of the Bible, a practice created by man, not God. They say they should be free to donate whatever amount they choose, and they are arguing with pastors, writing letters and quitting congregations in protest. In response, some pastors have changed their teaching and rejected what has been a favored form of fund raising for decades.
For full article click here.
Friday, November 16, 2007
The current generation of young people in America is information-saturated and technologically savvy, but is also largely unevangelized, presenting Christians with a stewardship to proclaim the Gospel through new media such as the blog, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told attendees of Godblogcon 2007 last week in Las Vegas.
Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the explosion of the Internet blogs has revolutionized communications in the past decade and has birthed a unique opportunity for the spread of the Gospel. Mohler served as the keynote speaker for the third annual Christian blogger conference.
He writes a blog at www.albertmohler.com.
Read complete story.
Tagged by Justice at 11/16/2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Hotels replace Gideon Bibles with "sex kits"
The latest fad with some hotels is to replace their Bibles with "intimancy kits." For instance, at New York City's trendy Soho Grand Hotel guests can enjoy a gourmet mini-bar, an iPod, a flat-screen TV and even the company of a complimentary pet goldfish. But no Bible.
Parent company Accor Hotels decided to replace the Gideon Bibles with "intimacy kits." For Accor, providing travelers with sexual paraphernalia is more important than the Bible. Accor Hotels owns several chains including: Motel 6, Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel, Ibis, All Seasons, Etap, Formule 1. While these chains are mostly located in Europe, Accor is expanding to many U.S. markets.
Since 2001, the number of luxury hotels with Bibles in the rooms has dropped by 18 percent. The same companies that own these luxury hotels also own some of the typical hotels and motels you and I might use. For example, Accor Hotels owns Motel 6.
Tagged by Justice at 11/15/2007
The Ten How-to’s of Expository Preaching
by Steven J. Lawson
Expositors are not born, they are made. Gifted by the Spirit of God, yes. But such men are, nevertheless, forged in the fire of hard study, hammered on the anvil of rigorous practice and polished over time. Whether you have been preaching for only a short time or a lifetime, whether you preach in a country church or a mega-church, every preacher must be ever refining his pulpit skills in order to powerfully deliver the Word of God.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great preacher of London’s Westminster Chapel, emphatically stated, “The work of preaching is the highest, the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.” I applaud that statement, not because there is anything special about those of us who preach, but because there is everything special about Him who has called us to proclaim His Word.
Because the Bible is what it claims to be—the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God—preaching is the highest calling known to man. As heralds of the sacred Scriptures, we have been entrusted with the greatest privilege of all—that of being mouthpieces through which the living God has chosen to speak. To us has been committed the greatest privilege of offering the unsearchable riches of Christ to those who are spiritually bankrupt and dispensing the treasures of His wisdom and understanding to those desperately in need of His grace.
As a result, we must be firmly committed to handling His Word with excellence. Anything less would be unfitting for the high calling upon our lives to preach. With this in mind, I want to share with you the essential steps of expository preaching that I use each week to communicate the Word of God to my congregation.
STEP #1: PREPARATION
Be the Right Person. Before the preachers can prepare the sermon, God must first prepare the preacher. If our hearts are not right, then our sermons can never be right. As a result, we must always be passionate in our personal pursuit of God. Never study a passage simply to prepare a sermon. We must always study to prepare our own hearts first and foremost. I cannot take others spiritually where I have not already gone. As a preacher, I cannot share what I do not possess.
Robert Murray McCheyne, the noted Scottish preacher, said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” In other words, I must first of all, be a man of God. What I say must be the overflow of who I am. My preaching must occur within the context of a dynamic relationship with God.
Choose the Right Passage. Now, we must decide which passage of Scripture to preach. In order to make this choice, we must exegete our audience, interpret their spiritual needs and determine the most appropriate series that will produce the desired result. Generally, I preach through entire books in the Bible to insure that I cover “the full counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). I also will preach a shorter series through one chapter in the Bible (i.e. Joseph, Genesis 37:50), or a biblical topic (i.e. spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-13). I must emphasize, prayer is always a must in being led by God to make the proper choice.
STEP #2: OBSERVATION
After a decision has been made regarding what to preach, the expositor must look for the central idea of the text, the “big idea,” or the main point of the passage. We should ask ourselves, what is the core truth the biblical author is trying to communicate? We want to become keenly aware of the passage, reading the text over and over and over with an observant eye. We are to be like a detective poking for clues or a prospector panning for gold. Personally, I prefer to photocopy the passage out of my Bible, marking it up thoroughly as I read it until I have it almost memorized. I want the central idea clearly in mind allowing it to dominate my thinking.
As I investigate the verses, I always ask myself several key diagnostic questions: Who is speaking? Who is the original audience? What is he saying? Why is this recorded? When was this written? What are the circumstances behind this passage? What immediately preceded this passage? What follows? How does this passage fit into the overall theme of the book?
In the process of reading the passage and its expanded context, I look for a unit of thought—a paragraph—that will be my specific text. At this point, I attempt to determine whether I will preach, for example, one, three, five or eight verses. In other words, I will determine how many verses my sermon will cover, after which I summarize in a complete sentence the main idea of the passage.
As I continue to pour over the passage, I look for transitions in the flow of thought, breaks in the action, main verbs, cause and effects, key words and reoccurring themes. At this point, I write a working outline of the passage so I can visually see its general structure and subordinate truths.
STEP #3: INTERPRETATION
Next, the expositor must interpret the passage using the literal, historical, grammatical approach. By literal, I mean the normal, or natural, meaning of words, being careful never to allegorize or spiritualize the text. By historical, I mean the author’s intent as he wrote to his original audience. By grammatical, I mean the understanding of the grammar, syntax and word studies in the passage. In this process we build a bridge between the ancient world of the Bible and our contemporary culture. In preparing my sermons, I take an 8-1/2 by 11 inch pad of paper and record extensive notes using the following tools:
Use Language Tools. Because the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, reading the passage in the ancient languages will yield a greater understanding of the text. Key word studies, verb tenses and grammatical syntax will be paramount. A Greek and Hebrew dictionary will more clearly reveal a word’s meaning, and a lexicon will trace its use in various contexts. Just remember, in a sermon, Greek and Hebrew are like underwear: they add a lot of support, but you don’t want to let them show.
Consult Commentaries. After doing my own in-depth study, I read five to fifteen commentaries and expose myself to the findings of men more gifted than I who have wrestled with this particular passage. I compare my findings with other noted teachers and respected theologians in the body of Christ from church history and the present day. Likewise, I read other expository sermons and listen to tapes of other preachers expounding on the same text. Obviously, an expositor’s library is an indispensable asset.
Check Cross References. We must always interpret Scripture with Scripture. The Word never contradicts itself. One part of the Bible never teaches anything contrary to another part. Therefore, we must turn to cross references to insure accuracy of interpretation.
Investigate Biblical Background Resources. The historicity of a passage often illuminates its meaning. Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries contain helpful articles on matters of historical significance. The culture of the ancient world was vastly different from today’s society. Thus, we must understand the milieu of Bible times, whether it be the Jewish, Greek or Roman culture, to grasp the meaning of the passage. Also, understanding the geography of the Middle East can be helpful in unlocking the meaning of a passage. Along this line, a Bible atlas is often an extremely helpful tool in understanding a text.
STEP #4: ASSIMILATION
Now, we want to take our individual discoveries and collected observations and begin to organize them into a written manuscript that follows a verse by verse progression through the selected passage. Our sermon notes should fall into a sequential pattern that follows a logical train of thought. To accomplish that I:
Construct a Preaching Outline. My initial outline now becomes a more polished outline that will help listeners follow me through the passage. A good outline is like the skeleton of the human body—that upon which the flesh and meat of the sermon are hung. A good outline may illiterate, rhyme or parallel in some way the other points so as to aid the listener. A good rule of thumb is: the shorter the wording of the homiletical point the better.
Incorporate the Research. I now arrange my exegetical findings in a systematic order that lines up under the appropriate point in my homiletical outline. For those who use a computer, this is a simply process of moving around copy. I still write my research by hand and use a photo copier to strip in my exegesis. I restate my findings in words that are more colloquial or more easily understood. Sometimes, communicating through analogies, metaphors and similes is very helpful to convey the truth.
Add Transitions. I now sew together the various parts of the sermon with the silky threads of smooth transitions as I connect one point with another. These transitions should show logical connections and contain summary statements which serve as the glue that binds the exposition together. Likewise, a good transition can also create interest for the next point by asking thought provoking questions.
STEP #5: APPLICATION
Sermon preparation is never complete until the text is applied to the individual lives of my hearers. I always must ask myself, does this truth relate to their lives? What does God require of them?
In my seminary classes, Haddon Robinson encouraged us to picture five or six members of our congregation seated around the table in our pastor’s study. Each of these people should represent a cross section of those to who we preach. Ask yourself, what does this text have to say to a successful businessman? A single parent? A college student? A retired grandparent? A young couple contemplating a move? How does this Scripture impact their lives?
At this point, I even manuscript my application to force myself to be accurate and relevant. I don’t want to “wind” the application any more than I want to be3 unprepared with the interpretation. This requires being “in touch” with the people to whom I preach, knowing their struggles, temptations and influences they face. Likewise, reading books, magazines and newspapers will reveal the current trends and tensions of the world in which they live.
I believe the best place to position application is to sprinkle it throughout the message. Each major movement of the sermon should drip with relevancy. If I regularly save all my application for the end of the sermon, my listeners could learn to tune me out while I am teaching the “meat” of the passage and tune back in for the conclusion and the perceived applicable truth. Consequently, I choose to weave “action points” throughout the entirety of my sermon.
STEP #6: ILLUSTRATIONS
Sermon illustrations are like open windows which allow outside light to be shed upon the passage enlightening its meaning. A good illustration can create interest, capture attention, explain a truth, motivate powerfully or insure that the message is unforgettable.
I prefer biblical illustrations—in other words, Scripture illustrating Scripture—because they carry greater authority to reinforce the point. Also, by illustrating from other biblical texts, I can teach Scripture as I illustrate and introduce my congregation to other biblical passages. At the same time, all knowledge—whether it be history, medicine, sports, culture or current events—is available to the preacher as a potential resource with which to illustrate. Likewise, appropriate personal experiences can help connect with and endear us to our audience as we illustrate the passage.
A good illustration will be relevant and memorable. Just make sure it doesn’t overshadow the biblical point you’re making. In other words, an illustration must support the truth but never take the place of, nor compete with, the truth in the minds of the hearers.
STEP #7: INTRODUCTION
Now that the main body of the message has been constructed, we are ready to write the introduction. Think of the introduction as the porch of a house. Proportionally, a porch is smaller than the house itself, yet it serves to provide easy access for all guests to enter the main structure. How strange a house would look if the front porch were too large, or worse, it if were larger than the house itself. Too large a porch would draw too much attention to itself. Rather, it should compliment the beauty of the house. In the same way, the introduction should be large enough to orient the listener to the sermon but small enough not to distract from the main body of the message.
This may be done through various means such as the use of illustration, humor, current events, a striking quote, asking questions, relating a personal experience, describing a hypothetical situation, raising a life-related problem, or any number of other means. Never forget: recruiting eager listeners for the sermon is the goal.
I agree with the oft-repeated three “I’s” of a good introduction: interest, involvement and identification. Ideally, the introduction should create interest, engage involvement or cause the listener to identify personally with the speaker of the subject matter. After the introduction, the preacher ought to be able to sit down and the congregation want him to get back up and finish the rest of the sermon.
STEP #8: CONCLUSION
Last words ought to be lasting words. The conclusion serves as a final “fork-in-the-road” calling the listener to pursue one of two courses of action based upon the truth proclaimed. Either the hearer will follow the biblical path just laid out or he will reject it. The conclusion should answer the question, “As a result of this message, what does God want the listener to do?” An effective conclusion should either, summarize the main truths, specify application, motivate, confront, challenge the will, encourage or comfort.
I like to think of the conclusion as a pilot landing an airplane. Here is the successful “touch down” of the sermon upon the runway of the listener’s heart. Every sermon must conclude with a clear and motivating call to action.
STEP #9: INTERNALIZATION
At this point, the manuscript should be complete. The introduction, main body and conclusion have been written. We now want to review our sermon notes to evaluate the general flow of the message as a whole.
Ask yourself: Is the sermon material under each homiletic point equally distributed? Is the introduction too long or too short? Are there enough illustrations? Is application well distributed? Will the opening lines “hook” the listener? Is there balance and symmetry before the main points? Is a section top heavy and need to be redistributed? Do I have too many points? Do the transitions flow?
After the sermon manuscript is on paper, it must also be indelibly written upon my mind and heart. Of course, this internalization has occurred throughout the entire process of developing the sermon. What I have studied and written must be fully rooted and grounded into my own life. I must become one with my sermon—married if you will. Regarding the truth of the message, I must know it, feel it and live it if I am to deliver it effectively.
My entire being—mind, emotion and will—must be engaged with my sermon. With my mind, I must become intimately acquainted with my manuscript, refreshing my memory with the substance of its truth. With my emotions, I must feel deeply the truth to be preached. And with my will, I must personally obey the message before I can ask others to act upon it.
In the final analysis, the best method of internalizing one’s sermon notes is to pray through them, offering each specific truth to God for his approval and preaching the message, as it were, to myself asking God to make it real in my own life.
STEP #10: PROCLAMATION
The anticipated moment of delivering the sermon has now come as the expositor stands before the congregation in the presence of God. Every preacher will develop his own method of delivery whether he reads his notes, recites them word-for-word from memory, uses them as a launching pad in a more “free form” communication or preaches without notes after thoroughly reviewing them.
Personally, I believe the last two methods are the best options. I bring my notes into the pulpit and use them in an extemporaneous fashion, trusting that God will enable me to “go beyond” my notes during the sermon. This allows the Holy Spirit to use all my preparation to the maximum, yet with freedom and liberty as He guides me spontaneously through the sermon and its outline.
As the Spirit of God fills and controls me, my facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact and voice inflection will communicate naturally—actually, supernaturally. These external aspects of sermon delivery should be the dynamic result of God working through my own personality and temperament, not something theatrically rehearsed nor intentionally imitated from another preacher. We want to avoid what on preacher wrote in the margin of his notes, “Weak point: yell here!” The goal is to be genuine.
How long should the sermon last? By and large, an expository sermon will take longer than a topical message because more attention will be given to the specifics of the text, i.e., historical background, word studies, cross references, flow of thought and the like. Rarely can a preacher do all this in 25 to 30 minutes and, at the same time, illustrate and apply the truth. I believe this requires a bare minimum of 35 minutes, otherwise theological fiber and doctrinal clarity will be sacrificed leaving the congregation deprived of the meat of the Word. In my pulpit, I shoot for 40 minutes.
Following each of these ten essential steps of expository preaching requires supernatural energy and divine enlightenment. Thus, we must be ever mindful that it is ultimately the Spirit of God who grips and equips the preacher.
May we hear again the stirring words of the greatest Baptist preacher who ever lived, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who said,
We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark ears, whose names breathe terror in our foemen’s ears. We have dire need of such. Whence will they come to us? They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church, and will come in due time. He has power to give us back again a golden age of preachers, a time as fertile of great divines and mighty ministers as was the Puritan age, and when the good old truth is once more preached by men whose lips are touched as with a live coal from off the altar, this shall be the instrument in the hand of the Spirit for bringing about a great and thorough revival of religion in the land.
I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men’s ears to heart it. The moment the Church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her. It has been through the ministry that the Lord has always been pleased to revive and bless His Churches.
May God raise up in this day a generation of expositors who are committed to proclaiming His truth to this world. If God has called you to be His servant, why stoop to be a king?
Preach the Word!
Tagged by Expositor at 11/15/2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Excerpt From John Piper on Church Planting
1. There are 195 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the top four largest “unchurched” nations in the world.
2. In spite of the rise of mega-churches, no county in America has a greater church population than it did ten years ago.
3. During the last ten years, combined communicant membership of all Protestant denominations declined by 9.5 percent (4,498,242), while the national population increased by 11.4 percent (24,153,000) .
4. Each year 3,500 to 4,000 churches close their doors forever; yet only as many as 1,500 new churches are started.
5. There are now nearly 60 percent fewer churches per 10,000 persons than in 1920.
In 1920 27 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
In 1950 17 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
In 1996 11 churches existed for every 10,000 Americans.
6. “Today, of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, four out of five are either plateaued or declining.”
7. One American denomination recently found that 80% of its converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old.
8. Hence the claim of many leaders: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches” (Peter Wagner).
Click here to read more.
Tagged by Justice at 11/14/2007
"My dear friends, after all, the kicking against the doctrine of election is a kicking against the gospel, because this doctrine is a first principle in the divine plan of mercy, and when rightly known, it prepares our minds to receive all the other doctrines. Or on the contrary, misunderstand this, and you are pretty sure to make mistakes about all the rest... Nay, the doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works, lifted up; for he always thinks faith is a work of the creature and a condition of his acceptance. It is as false to say that man is saved by faith as a work, as that he is saved by the deeds of the law. We are saved by faith as the gift of God, and as the first token of his eternal favor to us; but it is not faith as our work that saves, otherwise we are saved by works, and not by grace at all."
Tagged by Justice at 11/14/2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
This letter below is exactly why the Building Bridges conference is so important. I am amazed at the intensity of the ignorance that must have been involved in writing that letter. And my statement that I just made is the perfect example of why the conference is needed - because what I wrote is what I feel. And hopefully this conference will put an end to those that incite this type of anger in Calvinists - and those like me that are willing to fire back.
Click here to see it in a more readable format.
HT: Founders / Tom Ascol
Tagged by Justice at 11/11/2007
As the third volume of Horton’s series on covenant theology, this volume is perhaps of special interest because it is most clearly focused on issues surrounding soteriology – issues such as law and gospel, imputation, justification, union with Christ, ordo solutis, etc. Consistent with the rest of the series, Horton seeks to develop the implications of a classic Reformed understanding of covenant with reference to these issues and in conversation with various modern streams of thought. I found this format engaging and educational, and appreciated many of his insights, especially in regard to imputation, law and gospel, and glorification. However, I thought his presentation of union with Christ and justification could have been nuanced further so as to do justice to its use in Calvin and Reformed theology.
Horton’s thesis in this regard is that “justification is exclusively juridical, yet it is the forensic origin of our union with Christ, from which all of our covenantal blessings flow.” (139) What is perplexing in this is not the forensic nature of justification but his insistence that justification is the ground of union with Christ rather than union with Christ being the ground of both the forensic and renovative benefits of salvation. The motivation for this insistence is laudable – to keep justification from being grounded in any way in ontological or moral changes in us. Horton seems to identify the concept of “union with Christ” solely with these renovative, progressive aspects of our salvation, and thus denies that it can be logically prior to forensic justification.
That way of speaking of “union with Christ” is surely current in some circles both now and in the past. But it does not seem necessary or accurate to understand the Reformed use of “union with Christ” in solely renovative terms. In fact, I would suggest, to do so is to miss the particular genius of Calvin’s logic concerning the distinction and inseparability of the forensic and renovative benefits of salvation. Calvin, typically, in answering the charge that a purely forensic justification would make the real renovation of life unnecessary, explained the necessity of both because of their inseparability in the person of Christ, to whom we are united by faith. The logic is this: Do you have justification? It is only because you are united to Christ by faith — and if you are united to Christ, you have sanctification too, for both are in Christ and Christ can not be torn apart. Some of the quotes Horton cites are themselves clear statements of this line of thought. For instance, he quotes Calvin:
Although we may distinguish them [justification and sanctification], Christ contains both of them inseparably in himself. Do you wish, then, to attain righteousness in Christ? You must first possess Christ; but you cannot possess him without being made partaker in his sanctification, because he cannot be divided into pieces [1 Cor. 1:13]. Since, therefore, it is solely by expending himself that the Lord gives us these benefits to enjoy, he bestows both of them at the same time, the one never without the other. Thus it is clear how true it is that we are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness. (Insitutes, 3.16.1)
Horton’s conclusion on the basis of this quote is, “Calvin recognizes here that justification need not be confused with sanctification by means of an all-encompassing ontology of union in order to recognize the inseparability of both legal (forensic) and organic (effective) aspects of that union” (emphasis his). Now, it may be true that Calvin would object to an ontological concept of union with Christ, but the problem would not be that it is “all-encompassing” of “legal” and “organic” aspects of salvation. In fact, the very key to his logic here is the logical subordinance of both justification and sanctification to union with Christ. Read more…
Tagged by Justice at 11/11/2007