Monday, April 30, 2007

Obama's Interesting Christianity

CHICAGO — Members of Trinity United Church of Christ squeezed into a downtown hotel ballroom in early March to celebrate the long service of their pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. One congregant stood out amid the flowers and finery: Senator Barack Obama, there to honor the man who led him from skeptic to self-described Christian.

Twenty years ago at Trinity, Mr. Obama, then a community organizer in poor Chicago neighborhoods, found the African-American community he had sought all his life, along with professional credibility as a community organizer and an education in how to inspire followers. He had sampled various faiths but adopted none until he met Mr. Wright, a dynamic pastor who preached Afrocentric theology, dabbled in radical politics and delivered music-and-profanity-spiked sermons.

Few of those at Mr. Wright’s tribute in March knew of the pressures that Mr. Obama’s presidential run was placing on the relationship between the pastor and his star congregant. Mr. Wright’s assertions of widespread white racism and his scorching remarks about American government have drawn criticism, and prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February.

Click here for full article.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday, Lovely Sunday

My God,

Thou hast helped me to see,

that whatever good be in honour and

rejoicing, how good is he who gives them,

and can withdraw them;

that blessedness does not lie so much

in receiving good from and in thee,

but in holding forth thy glory and virtue;

that it is an amazing thing to see Deity

in a creature, speaking, acting,

filling, shining through it;

that nothing is good but thee,

that I am near good when I am near thee,

that to be like thee is a glorious thing:

This is my magnet, my attraction.

Thou art all my good in times of peace,

my only support in days of trouble,

my one sufficiency when life shall end.

Help me to see how good thy will is in all,

and even when it crosses mine

teach me to be pleased with it.

Grant me to feel thee in fire, and food and

every providence,

and to see that thy many gifts and creatures

are but thy hands and fingers taking hold of me.

Thou bottomless fountain of all good,

I give myself to thee out of love,

for all I have or own is thine,

my goods, family, church, self,

to do with as thou wilt,

to honour thyself by me, and by all mine.

If it be consistent with thy eternal counsels,

the purpose of thy grace,

and the great ends of thy glory,

then bestow upon me the blessings of

thy comforts;

If not, let me resign myself to

thy wiser determinations.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All The Scriptures

Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures

Now Available!

Him We ProclaimAuthor: Dennis E. Johnson

Publisher: P&R

ISBN: 1596380543


This is an important book, a timely book much in need of being written and one that will be read with the greatest profit. This is especially so for those who, committed to a redemptive- or covenant-historical reading of the Bible, recognize and seek to honor and proclaim as its central theme, Old Testament as well as New, Christ in his person and work as the consummate revelation of the triune God.

This magnum opus, written out of the author’s many years’ experience of wrestling with and teaching seminarians how to preach Christ from all of Scripture, is at the same time as much a book about sound biblical interpretation. His key contention is “that the apostolic preachers through whom God gave us the New Testament normatively define not only the content that twenty-first century preachers are to proclaim, but also the hermeneutic method by which we interpret the Scriptures and the homiletic method by which we communicate God’s message to our contemporaries.”

This dual hermeneutical-homiletic program is articulated at considerable length and worked out with many examples, always with an eye to the ultimate goal of preaching. In particular, concerning the use of the Old Testament in the New, about which currently among evangelicals there is considerable confusion or uncertainty that threatens, however inadvertently but nonetheless inevitably, to obscure the clarity of the Bible and undermine its full authority as God’s word, Johnson takes us a good distance along the only constructive way forward. For this we are greatly in his debt. - Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Charles Krahe Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Northbrook Conference - Starts Tonight!!

Click the banner for details.

Me and my wife are leaving shortly for this conference and we are really looking forward to it. I would encourage you to come if you are in the area, it will be well worth your time to hear excellent teaching on this important topic. I have not heard Randy Stinson live before so that will be a treat in and of itself.
If you are not able to make the conference, you can keep up with it at CoffeeSwirls, Doug McHone will be live blogging it. It starts tonight at 6:15 - hope to see you there.

Do You Hold to the Word? - No Matter What?

From this gracious disposition of the heart, trembling at the Word, you may learn why the servants of God are so obedient to God's Word and dare do nothing against it. God has put into them a trembling at His Word. They see in God's Word what others do not see. You wonder why some men are strict in their way, why they will suffer anything in the world rather than go against any one sentence in the Word. You wonder at. Why, because you do not see so much majesty and authority in God's Word; your hearts have not been struck with fear and trembling. But they see such a majesty and fear in the Word that they dare not go against it. They would rather endure any evil in the world than go against the Word. They dare not do as you dare.

In Revelation 6:9, it is said of some there that when the fifth seal was opened, "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held." That is, they would rather be slain than go contrary to the Word of God. They would keep themselves close to the Word whatever became of their lives and of their estates. "I saw the souls of those and they were under the altar, they were under God's protection." Oh, surely they were such as trembled at the Word of God - and God looks at such souls. The soul of such a one shall lie under the altar, shall be in God's eye. That soul so trembles that it would rather lose life and all than do anything against God's Word.

Jeremiah Burroughs
June 2, 1644

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Gospel(less) According to Rick Warren

No one has exemplified the market-driven approach better than Rick Warren, pastor of the huge Saddleback Church in southern California and author of The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life. While Warren is open and up-front about his philosophy, strategy and methods, nevertheless things are not always as they appear. For example, “purpose-driven” sounds better than “market-driven” but it is basically the same thing. In his book The Purpose-Driven Life, his opening statement is, “It is not about you,” then turns around and writes a whole book about “you.” He belittles pop-psychology then repeatedly promotes it by simply calling it something else. He publicly cuts ties with Robert Schuller, then regurgitates some of the most odious things that Schuller has been teaching for thirty years. He claims commitment to the Scriptures then undermines them at almost every turn. He will tell his followers that he is not tampering with the message but only reengineering the methods, when in fact he has so altered the message as to make it all but unrecognizable.

This brings us to his most disturbing alteration, the gospel itself. To charge Warren with modification of the gospel is an ugly accusation, one that should not be made lightly. What is the evidence for such an indictment? Consider the following:

In the video that accompanies the “40 Days of Purpose,” Warren leads his listeners in prayer at the end of the first session. The prayer goes like this:

"Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don't want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don't understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for." Warren goes on to say: "Now if you've just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You've just become a part of the family of God."

Warren would be hard-pressed to find biblical backing for this presentation of the gospel. We find nothing here about sin, grace, repentance, the person of Christ, Calvary, faith, judgment, or the resurrection. This is the ultimate in a mutilated, seeker-sensitive gospel: the seeker comes to Christ in order to find his purpose in life, not to receive forgiveness from sin and the righteousness of God. Then, to pronounce someone a full-fledged member of the family of God because he has prayed such a prayer (based on minimal, if any, understanding of the person and work of Christ), is beyond tragic.

For full article click here.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

T4G Book is Finally Released

Proclaiming the gospel is without a doubt the most important task of pastoral ministry, yet often other seemingly urgent activities can obscure it. From time to time all pastors and preachers need a fresh reminder of the primacy of the gospel.
Preaching the Cross does just this. It is a call to preaching the gospel as the center of pastoral ministry. This volume showcases an unprecedented combination of pastors representing a variety of evangelical traditions. Though they may differ on some secondary points of church practice, they all enthusiastically celebrate the centrality of the cross of Christ.
“This book on preaching the cross is written by the best of men who know the grace of the crucified Christ and serve in the power of his resurrection. It is a call for other ministers of the gospel to faithfully proclaim the message of the cross and the empty tomb. It is also an invitation to share in the fellowship of godly pastors who stand together for Jesus in a world that needs the gospel.” - Philip G. Ryken, Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church and Board of Trustees, Westminster Theological Seminary

Was the Apostle Paul an Arminian??

In defense of this I will do as John MacArthur likes to say and point out that "the meaning of the text is the text."

Acts 9:1-19

9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

Maybe it's me but I missed the part where he chose? I also missed the part where he was given an official SBC gospel tract? And, amazingly it doesnt appear that God used the F.A.I.T.H program? If I didn't know any better I would say that God did it all - but I am sure that I am just missing something.

Seeker Sensitive was Alive in the 1600's

I cannot recommend to you enough the book Gospel Fear by Jeremiah Burroughs, it is an excellent treasure to add to your library. I have come to realize that Jeremiah was battling some of the same things that we are battling today. The sermon I am currently reading in this book is called "What True Sanctified Trembling is" it is based on Isaiah 66:2 and was preached on May 26, 1644.
This sermon is clearly directed at those who do not desire the word of God and do not know what it means to desire the word of God. Jeremiah is painting the picture of what it means to tremble at the word of God and why that is a good thing, below is a quote from the book that sums this sermon up pretty well. I would hope that you would take to heart the advice of Jeremiah and not withhold from your people the tough subjects of the bible. We must be faithful preachers of the word expositing the WHOLE council of God. Above all we must be examples to our congregations with lives lived out treasuring and trembling at the word of God.

Paragraph Quote From Jeremiah Burroughs:

"The true, gracious trembling at God's Word is joined with joy. It is joined with love (as before), but joy is a higher degree. There is, in sanctification of the heart, a blessed mixture of love and joy. As in curious works there are gold and silver and pearls together, and all make it beautiful, so the grace of sanctification is an enameled work. Thus it is with fear and joy. You know the passage in Psalm 2:11: "Rejoice with trembling." The soul trembles at the Word, and yet is glad that there is such a word of God; and he accounts the Word of God to be the inheritance of the soul. We have an excellent scripture for that, that though the Word of God is that which strikes trembling, yet the heart rejoices in it. Deuteronomy 33:2 says, "from His right hand went a fiery law." But mark what follows in verse 4: "Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." What, a fiery law and yet an inheritance? Yes, though it has never so much severity in it. Mark verse 3. He commanded a fiery law, and yet He loved the people. You must not think ill of a minister who preaches things that seem dreadful to you, whereas he only preaches against such things you should account as your enemies. You may not think that he loves you. Mark here, God gave a fiery law and yet He loved them. They shall set with all meekness and quietness and humility "at Thy feet and receive of Thy words," though it is a fiery law.

And the verse 4: "Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." Oh, though the law is a fiery law, yet we account our inheritance to be in our law. And, therefore, those who would altogether take away our law from us would take away part of our inheritance. Therefore, trembling and joy may go together. And a place, though not so full, yet more express than this we have in Psalm 119:162: "I rejoice at Thy Word as one that findeth great spoil." It may be that if you are travelling and meet with some great treasure, you would rejoice at that. Why, a gracious heart can rejoice at God's Word as much as any man in the world can who finds great spoils. Therefore, when we put you upon fearing God's Word, we are not enemies to your joy; but, the truth is, the only way to have true joy is to tremble at the Word of God."

I'm a Heretic - You're a Heretic

Scott at Fide-o did a great post on the Falwell flap. I have to admit the best part of the post is the picture - it is hysterical, of course this could be because I know the guys in the picture. Nonetheless this post is worth your time.

Click here to see what the heck I am talking about.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Are We Raising a Generation of Killers? - Stats to Back the Thought

Virginia Tech Tragedy is a Wake-Up Call to Parents

Barna’s studies on parenting and child development led him to offer a series of facts and observations related to the Virginia Tech situation.

  • By the time an American child is 23 years old, as was the killer in Virginia, he will have seen countless murders among the more than 30,000 acts of violence to which he is exposed through television, movies and video games.
  • By the age of 23, the average American will have viewed thousands of hours of pornographic images, which diminish the dignity and value of human life.
  • After nearly a quarter century on earth, the typical American will have listened to hundreds of hours of music that fosters anger, hatred, disrespect for authority, selfishness, and radical independence.
  • The typical worldview of a person in their early twenties promotes self-centeredness, the right to happiness and fulfillment, the importance of personal expression in all forms, the necessity of tolerating aberrant or immoral points of views, allows for disrespect of other people and use of profanity, and advances forms of generic spirituality that dismiss the validity of the Judeo-Christian faith. Largely propelled by postmodern thought, the typical worldview of young people does not facilitate respect for life, acceptance of the rule of law, or the necessity of hard work, personal sacrifice, paying the dues or contributing to the common good. Barna noted that only about 2% of today’s teenagers possess a biblical worldview that acknowledges the existence of God, Satan and sin, the availability of forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ, and the existence of absolute moral principles provided in the Bible.
  • The average adolescent spends more than 40 hours each week digesting media, and the typical teenager in America absorbs almost 60 hours of media content each week. For better or worse, the messages received from the media represent a series of unfiltered, unchaperoned worldview lessons.
  • It appears that as many as one out of every five young people is or has been under the influence of mood-altering medications, some of whose long-term side effects are not fully understood by the medical community. Drugging children has become one of the ways in which we have coped with other issues.
  • Stress levels have been steadily rising among young children over the past couple of decades. A variety of factors have contributed to such stress, including parental acrimony and divorce, household financial troubles, media-fed expectations regarding materialism, overscheduling of children, bullying, physical abuse within the home, and excessive peer pressure.
  • One-third of the nation’s teenagers report having been in a physical fight at least once in the last year. Nearly one out of every five 9th through 12th grade students has carried a gun, knife or club in the past month.
  • Education, both in the home and outside of it, provides diminishing emphasis upon the development of character, and increasing emphasis upon meeting academic performance standards, especially through standardized testing.
  • Growing numbers of children seek to make their way through an increasingly complex life without the traditional safety net comprised of a loving and supportive family, a stable circle of supportive peers, teachers who know and help nurture the child, and a community of faith that assists in giving meaning to life and a sense of belonging.
  • Most young people admit that they feel as if they do not receive sufficient attention from their parents; do not have enough good friends whom they can count on; are unsettled about their own future; have personal spiritual perspectives but not much of a sense of spiritual community; lack role models; and do not feel that they have intrinsic value.
"Parents have a huge influence on who their children grow up to become," stated the researcher. "Although parents cannot guarantee that their kids will behave in specific ways, but their parenting style and practices can hugely influence the likelihood of certain behaviors and perspectives."
Parents Are Struggling
Raising healthy and confident children in today’s world is not an easy task. Citing recent studies his firm had completed with parents, Barna highlighted some of the struggles that American parents are currently facing.
  • A majority of parents feel overly busy, stressed out or are buckling under the pressure of mounting financial debt.
  • Most adults are dissatisfied with their job, even though it consumes a majority of their waking hours.
  • American parents tend to blame other parents for the problems evident among today’s young people while excusing themselves from any blame. A large share of parents, however, do express worry about the future that their children will inherit and how prepared their children are to deal with the challenges of that future.
  • Fewer than one out of every ten families have parents who pray together, study the Bible together and lead the family in regular explorations of their faith.
  • The standards that parents have established for evaluating their own performance as a parent are innocuous. If their children have avoided publicly recognized problems - such as physical or substance abuse, gang involvement, satanic activity, pregnancy, or physical aggression - and continue to get passing grades in school and stay relatively healthy, the parents believe they are doing an acceptable job.
  • Few parents are aware of the dramatic effect the media have upon people’s behavior and values. Just 9% of parents believe that the media are the most significant influence on their children’s lives, and only one out of every three parents of kids under 13 impose any significant restrictions or limitations on how much or what type of media their children are exposed to. Shockingly few parents have discussions with their children about the content of the media they have digested.

Hypocritical Hypocrites

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

Books, Books, and More Books!

If you are a Pastor then you probably love books and love to read. Westminister Seminary's Bookstore is having a huge sale right now that I would encourage you to take a look at - especially if you are looking for reformed classics. They are heavily discounting a lot of books due to having to close down their on-site bookstore for construction.

So go to town and blow the budget! Unless like me your wife has put you on a book allowance. =(

Sharing the Faith

What is faith?

I think the whole concept of faith is one of the most misunderstood ideas that we have, misunderstood not only by the world but by the church itself. The very basis for our redemption, the way in which we are justified by God, is through faith. The Bible is constantly talking to us about faith, and if we misunderstand that, we’re in deep trouble.

The great issue of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century was, How is a person justified? Luther’s controversial position was that we are justified by faith alone. When he said that, many of the godly leaders in the Roman Catholic Church were very upset. They said, “Does that mean that a person can just believe in Jesus and then live any way they want to live?” In other words, the Roman Catholic Church reacted fiercely because they were afraid that Luther’s view would be understood as an easy-believ-ism in which a person only had to believe and never had to be concerned about bringing forth the fruits of righteousness. It was crucial that those who were involved in the Protestant Reformation carefully define what they meant by saving faith. So they went back and did their studies in the New Testament, specifically on the Greek word pistein, which means “to believe,” and they were able to isolate three distinctive aspects of biblical faith.

The first is the Latin term notitia: “believing in the data” or the information. It’s an intellectual awareness. You can’t have faith in nothing; there has to be content to the faith. You have to believe something or trust someone. When we say that a person is saved by faith, some people say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you are sincere.” That’s not what the Bible teaches. It matters profoundly what you believe. What if I believed that the devil was God? That wouldn’t save me. I must believe the right information.

The second aspect of faith is what they call assensus, or intellectual assent. I must be persuaded of the truthfulness of the content. According to James, even if I am aware of the work of Jesus—convinced intellectually that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead—I would at that point qualify to be a demon. The demons recognize Jesus, and the devil himself knows the truth of Christ, but he doesn’t have saving faith.

The crucial, most vital element of saving faith in the biblical sense, is that of personal trust. The final term is fiducia, referring to a fiduciary commitment by which I put my life in the lap of Jesus. I trust him and him alone for my salvation. That is the crucial element, and it includes the intellectual and the mental. But it goes beyond it to the heart and to the will so that the whole person is caught up in this experience we call faith.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Your Youth Ministry is Failing - and You Don't Even Know it

What's a Youth Minister to do?

Since publishing my (Voddie Baucham) articles on youth ministry, I have been bombarded with questions from youth pastors who agree (in principle) with what I have written, but haven’t the foggiest idea what to do about it. Unfortunately, most of them go away disappointed when they realize that I’m not talking about tweaking a program, but changing a paradigm. This is not a quick fix. What we have is severely flawed at best. Thus, the steps necessary to change it are neither easy, nor pretty.

Step One: Update Your Resume

The first step requires brutal honesty. You are in a situation that is almost guaranteed to blow up in your face. First, You have a group of parents who have abdicated their responsibility to their teens (mainly because the church has taught them to do so). Second, due to the nature of your position, you may lack both the credentials and the credibility necessary to oversee a ministry to the parents of these teens and train them to disciple their children. Third, the fact that you have been hired as a youth minister means the leadership in your church either doesn’t understand, agree with, or support the idea of family integration/parental responsibility in the discipleship of teens. Or they just don’t think it is a realistic goal. They believe YM is necessary because parents cant and/or won’t do their job.

With all of these factors staring you in the face, you must realize that movement on your part in the direction of training, expecting and holding parents accountable to disciple their children is likely to be met with opposition and perhaps, the loss of your job. I have seen this on more occasions than I care to count. Many who attempt to move in the FIC direction are viewed as an idealistic, unrealistic, immature kid who hasn’t a clue about the way the world (or the church) works. Or worse, you will be accused of no longer caring about teens whose parents can’t or won’t disciple them (welcome to my world).

If you have children and begin to take charge of their discipleship (and back away from the ministries provided by your church), you may be accused of undermining church programs and setting a poor example for the members, and you may ultimately lose your job. If you work in a church with ministers who have wild, disobedient, rebellious, children who have not been discipled at home by their pastor/parents (who should be disqualified according to 1 Timothy 3:4,5; Titus 1:6) then you will most assuredly rock the boat and may eventually lose your job. If you grasp the controversial concept of education as a necessary part of discipleship, you will alienate the overwhelming majority of families in your church (and the school teachers, administrators, etc.) and most assuredly lose your job.

In short, it is very likely that any movement toward the family integrated philosophy on behalf of a youth pastor will result in the loss of his job. There are, however, a few exceptions. First, if you have the full support of the pastor you may not lose your job. Second, if you are a 40+ year-old youth minister with a track record of raising your own teenaged children and bringing them to respectful, theologically sound, biblical maturity, you may not lose your job (you’ll just be reassigned as the minister to families and be replaced by a 20-something). Third, if you keep the youth ministry in tact and use family integration as a program for ‘truly committed’ parents while continuing to act as a scapegoat for the majority of the parents of teens in your church, you may not lose your job.

Then again, each of these scenarios is likely to lead to the establishment of a faction of committed parents who see the fruit of family discipleship and begin to hunger for more. This small faction is likely to cause conviction and unrest among other parents of teens in the church who see them as ‘over zealous’ parents with too much time on their hands and too much interaction with and influence over their children (to quote a number of critics who have written in). Eventually, this will cause unrest, and possibly division in the church, in which case –you guessed it—you will lose your job. So, you might want to update that resume.

Click here for what to do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

21 Ways to Minister to Those Who Are Suffering

21 Ways to Minister to Those Who Are Suffering

1. Pray. Ask God for his help for you and for those you want to minister to. Ask him for wisdom and compassion and strength and a word fitly chosen. Ask that those who are suffering would look to God as their help and hope and healing and strength. Ask that he would make your mouth a fountain of life.

2. Feel and express empathy with those most hurt by this great evil and loss; weep with those who weep.

3. Feel and express compassion because of the tragic circumstances of so many loved ones and friends who have lost more than they could ever estimate.

4. Take time and touch, if you can, and give tender care to the wounded in body and soul.

5. Hold out the promise that God will sustain and help those who cast themselves on him for mercy and trust in his grace. He will strengthen you for the impossible days ahead in spite of all darkness.

6. Affirm that Jesus Christ tasted hostility from men and knew what it was to be unjustly tortured and abandoned, and to endure overwhelming loss, and then be killed, so that he is now a sympathetic mediator for us with God.

7. Declare that this murder was a great evil, and that God's wrath is greatly kindled by the wanton destruction of human life created in his image.

8. Acknowledge that God has permitted a great outbreak of sin against his revealed will, and that we do not know all the reasons why he would permit such a thing now, when it was in his power to stop it.

9. Express the truth that Satan is a massive reality in the universe that conspires with our own sin and flesh and the world to hurt people and to move people to hurt others, but stress that Satan is within and under the control of God.

10. Express that these terrorists rebelled against the revealed will of God and did not love God or trust him or find in God their refuge and strength and treasure, but scorned his ways and his Person.

11. Since rebellion against God was at the root of this act of murder, let us all fear such rebellion in our own hearts, and turn from it, and embrace the grace of God in Christ, and renounce the very impulses that caused this tragedy.

12. Point the living to the momentous issues of sin and repentance in our own hearts and the urgent need to get right with God through his merciful provision of forgiveness in Christ, so that a worse fate than death will not overtake us.

13. Remember that even those who trust in Christ may be cut down like these thousands who were in New York and Washington, but that does not mean they have been abandoned by God or not loved by God even in those agonizing hours of suffering. God's love conquers even through calamity.

14. Mingle heart-wrenching weeping with unbreakable confidence in the goodness and sovereignty of God who rules over and through the sin and the plans of rebellious people.

15. Trust God for his ability to do the humanly impossible, and bring you through this nightmare and, in some inscrutable way, bring good out of it.

16. Explain, when the time is right, and they have the wherewithal to think clearly that one of the mysteries of God's greatness is that he ordains that some things come to pass which he forbids and disapproves of.

17. Express your personal cherishing of the sovereignty of God as the ground of all your hope as you face the human impossibilities of life. The very fulfillment of the New Covenant promises of our salvation and preservation hang on God's sovereignty over rebellious human wills.

18. Count God your only lasting treasure, because he is the only sure and stable thing in the universe.

19. Remind everyone that to live is Christ and to die is gain.

20. Pray that God would incline their hearts to his word, open their eyes to his wonders, unite their hearts to fear him, and satisfy them with his love.

21. At the right time sound the trumpet that all this good news is meant by God to free us for radical, sacrificial service for the salvation of men and the glory of Christ. Help them see that one message of all this misery is to show us that life is short and fragile and followed by eternity, and small, man-centered ambitions are tragic.

John Piper


God of all sovereignty,

Thy greatness is unsearchable,
Thy name most excellent,
Thy glory above the heavens;
Ten thousand minister to thee,
Ten thousand times ten thousand stand
before thee;
In thy awful presence we are less than nothing.

We do not approach thee because we deserve
thy notice, for we are sinners;
Our necessities compel us,
Thy promises encourage us,
Our broken hearts incite us,
The Mediator draws us,
Thy acceptance of others moves us.

Look thou upon us and be merciful unto us;
Convince us of the penalty and pollution of sin;
Give us faith to believe, and, believing,
to have life in Jesus;
May we enter into his sufferings;
Let us see thy hand in the instruments of our grief,
rejoicing that they are from thy over-ruling

Let not our weeping hinder sowing;
nor sorrow, duty.

While living in a world of change let us seek
the abiding city.

Be with us to our journey’s end
that we may glorify thee in death as in life.

We bless thee for preservation, supplies, mercies,
and to thee, keeper of souls, we commit
all we are and have.

May no evil befall us,
no sickness come nigh us,
no horror disturb us!

May our conscience be clear, our hearts pure,
our sleep sweet!

And with the innumerable company who neither
slumber nor rest
we join in ascribing blessing, honour,
glory and power
to the Lamb upon the throne,
for ever and ever.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Limited Atonement is Heresy

Jerry Falwell's Friday the 13th declaration: Limited atonement is heresy

Last Friday at the "College for a Weekend" emphasis at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, Jerry Falwell preached a chapel message to 1828 prospective new students along with current students, faculty and staff. Under the title of "Our Message, Mission and Vision," Dr. Falwell delcared his purpose to be to communicate who Liberty University is in order to persuade prospective students to matriculate there.

Much of what he said regarding the "message" of Liberty is praiseworthy and ought to be applauded by all Bible believing Christians. When he came to articulating their belief in the "substitutionary atonemement of Jesus Christ for all men," however, he added a statement that I find tragic. Here it is (about 10 minutes or so into the video):

"We are not into partcular love or limited atonement. As a matter of fact we consider it heresy."

Click here for full article.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

ESV Literary Study Bible Coming Soon!

This may be the greatest development since pages and calfskin. I am really excited about this, especially after seeing the sample. I think this will be a valuable resource to all level of Christians. Way to go!!

Go here to see the sample and read more about it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who Do You Trust In?

The Righteous Will Never Be Moved

Psalm 112 
1 Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
2 His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
5 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
6 For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
7 He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor.
10 The wicked man sees it and is angry;
he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
the desire of the wicked will perish!

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ps 112:1-10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MIT Debunks Global Warming

A meteorology professor at the Massachusetts institute of Technology says there is no compelling evidence that global warming will lead to a catastrophe — and in fact might be beneficial.

Richard Lindzen writes in Newsweek: "Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal weather and climate. There is no evidence that extreme weather events are increasing…Indeed, meteorological theory holds that, outside the tropics, weather in a warming world should be less variable, which might be a good thing."

For full article click here.

Planting the Mega Church

Where do People Go When they Switch Churches? - Larger, More Contemporary Church

In the Study of Adults Who Switch Churches, LifeWay Research found a common theme: Church switchers often choose a new church that is different in several ways from their previous church.

The study was conducted among Protestant adult church goers who have attended more than one church as an adult. To understand the voluntary changes being made in the type of church people attend, 415 surveys were conducted among church switchers whose latest church change was for reasons other than a residential move.

Worship style
More than one in five church switchers move away from traditional worship when they move to their current church.

Previously, a majority of “Non-mover” church switchers (53 percent) attended traditional style worship. After changing, only 29 percent attend traditional services. Blended worship is the most popular, with 38 percent attending this style service. Contemporary worship attendance became the second most popular, with the numbers going from 24 percent to 33 percent after the switch.

Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research noted, “Clearly, selecting a new church with a more contemporary worship style is a current trend. These changes are intentional, as indicated by eighty percent finding worship style an important factor in selecting a new church.”

Church size
Three-fourths of adults who switch churches find a church of different size than they previously attended.

Forty-six percent of switchers go to a larger church, while 29 percent switch to a smaller church. Twenty-five percent choose a church the same size as their previous one.

Seventy-nine percent of those who attended a church with worship attendance of 100 or less switch to a larger church. In contrast, 57 percent of those who attended a church with more than 500 in worship attendance switch to a smaller church.

“The trend clearly shows church switchers are moving to larger churches,” McConnell said. “However, there is a smaller counter-trend among those who attended larger churches; some of them select smaller new churches.”

For full article click here.

Top 10 Reasons People Leave a Church

For a bigger picture of the chart click here.

Why they Flee

The latest findings from the LifeWay Research area of LifeWay Christian Resources give the top 10 reasons adults switch churches.

This study builds on LifeWay Research’s 2006 study of the formerly churched, which explored the reasons adults stop going to church. The current findings explain why people change churches and how these situations differ from those in which the individual does not resume church attendance at all.

Church switchers are defined as Protestant Americans who have attended more than one church regularly as an adult.

"There are two types of people who slip out through the back door of the church," said Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. "One group is probably leaving church permanently, and the other group is going to find a new church."

To understand why adults choose to change churches, 415 "non-mover" church switchers – who changed churches for reasons other than changes to their residential location – were surveyed in December 2006.

The study results indicate that overall, those who change churches for reasons other than moving are more likely fleeing their previous church rather than being drawn to another. Fifty-eight percent of study participants said the greatest impact on their decision to switch churches was "my need/desire to leave my previous church." The other 42 percent left because of the desire to join their current church.

For full article click here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wade Burleson Embraces Emergent - At Least That's How It Sounds

I can't believe this article and the quotes that came from Wade Burleson in regards to the emerging church movement. It is as though he is saying because they (The Journey) are filling seats the Emergent approach is OK. I am sorry but that is nuts; as a fellow Southern Baptist Pastor that is constantly fighting biblical illiteracy - I am amzaed to have read this from someone like Wade Burleson. Is this what the Southern Baptist Convention is going to become?? Is this more of the anything to fill the seats approach?? I am deeply troubled by where we seem to be headed. Wade uses the word enemy a lot for those that disagree with him. Speaking for myself, if you are an enemy of the Gospel and an enemy of the Truth of Christ, then I will point fingers and I will name you, whether you are Southern Baptist or not!

In response to a fellow Southern Baptist's critical comments against the emerging church movement within the denomination, one pastor called the remarks "reprehensible and unconscionable."

"I find it reprehensible and unconscionable that someone would call a Southern Baptist Church in Missouri, one that is reaching people for Christ and now running over 1,200 in worship, 'deceptive' and 'dangerous,'" said Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., in a Tuesday post on his web log.

Burleson was referring to comments made by Roger Moran, a Southern Baptist layman that some consider the most powerful Baptist in the state of Missouri. Moran had raised concern earlier this year over the rise of the emerging church movement, including a local church called The Journey, and its "infiltrating" Southern Baptist life. He questioned some of the controversial approaches, such as providing beer during theological discussions, that The Journey is taking to draw the unchurched.

"They say they have a passion for reaching people for Christ … and I think that they do," Moran told St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. "But I think they cross the line in becoming so much like the world."

"Why in the world do we waste our time trying to identify the 'deceptive' and 'dangerous' within our own convention?" posed Burleson. "Could it be that the real enemy is being ignored and those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ and part of the Southern Baptist Convention are being unnecessarily attacked?"

Although the church calls itself "interdenominational," The Journey in St. Louis has ties with the Missouri Baptist Convention – the state arm of the SBC – which provided a $200,000 loan for the church.

Darrin Patrick, founder and pastor of The Journey, said earlier this year that his ministry and the Missouri Baptist Convention share the same goals - to reach out and help the poor.

"When you partner with other people, you invite conflict," he told the Associated Press. "But if we’re both going in the same general direction, why not link arms?"

Burleson shared a similar view.

"There is room in my convention for everyone who holds to the fundamentals of the faith and seeks to cooperate for the purpose of missions and evangelism," he wrote in his blog page. "I can't figure out why some wish to continue to narrow the parameters of cooperation and exclude fellow, Bible believing Southern Baptists from missions participation and convention leadership."

His comments come as Southern Baptists look to reaffirm their identity in the midst of controversies and debates around such issues as worship style, charismatic practices and control.

Some Southern Baptist leaders say their belief in the inerrancy of Scripture has kept them a strong denomination and continue to stress the "exclusivity of the Gospel," as David S. Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., said at a Baptist Identity II conference in February.

The denomination is trying to move away from controversy to a new commitment and cooperation.

Meanwhile, Burleson says, "We must get to the place where we no longer see fellow Southern Baptists as the enemy."

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Purpose of God: Predestination and Foreknowledge

The Purpose of God: Predestination and Foreknowledge

“Predestination” is a word often used to signify God’s foreordaining of all the events of world history—past, present, and future. This usage is quite appropriate. In Scripture and historic Protestant theology, however, “predestination” refers specifically to God’s decision, made in eternity before the world existed, regarding the final destinies of individual persons. In general, the New Testament speaks of the predestination, or election, of particular sinners for salvation and eternal life (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4, 5, 11), although Scripture also on occasion ascribes to God an advance decision about those who are finally not saved (Rom. 9:6–29; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4). For this reason it is usual in Protestant theology to define predestination as including both God’s decision to save some from sin (election) and the corresponding decision not to save others (reprobation).

It is sometimes asserted that God’s choice of individuals for salvation is based on His foreknowledge that they would choose Christ as their Savior. Foreknowledge in this case means passive foresight by God of what individuals will do apart from His foreordaining their action. But there are weighty objections to the view that election is based on passive foresight.
“Foreknow” in Rom. 8:29; 11:2 (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2, 20) indicates not only an advance recognition, but also an advance choice by God of His people. It does not express the idea of a spectator’s passive anticipation of what will happen spontaneously. God’s “knowledge” of His people in Scripture implies a special relationship of loving choice (Gen. 18:19).

Since all are naturally dead in sin (cut off from the life of God and unresponsive to Him), no one who hears the gospel will ever come to repentance and faith without the inner renewal that only God can impart (Eph. 2:4–10). Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (John 6:65, cf. 6:44; 10:25–28). Sinners choose Christ because God chose them first, and moved them to their choice by graciously renewing their hearts.

Though all human acts are free in the sense of an immediate self-determination, such acts are also the outworking of God’s eternal purpose and foreordination. We have difficulty understanding precisely how divine sovereignty and human freedom and responsibility are compatible, but Scripture everywhere assumes that they are so (Acts 2:23; 4:28 and notes).
Christians should thank God for their conversion, look to Him to keep them in His grace, and wait with confidence for His final triumph, according to His plan.