Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vice President Gore, Global Warming, and the Bible

The former Vice President gave an interview to Andrea Mitchell yesterday and continues to spout his only claim to fame: global warming. About two weeks ago, I had a student at Missouri Baptist ask me what I thought about global warming. I answered his question with my typical arrogant response, "Bunk". He then challenged me by asking "Why?"

Well, there are many reasons for discarding this entire subject as rubbish:

(1) Those who prophesy doom and gloom through man-made global warming are the same ones who fly their private jets, use their big gas guzzling autos, and live in mansions using tons of "carbon". Do they really believe man is killing himself and the planet by causing global warming? Then how can they live as they do? In a word, hypocrite!

(2) At best, we have weather data for only a century or so. Yet the earth has been around for at least 6000 years. That doesn't sound like a lot of data from which to discern trends.

(3) The scientific community is very much divided over this issue. Despite what men like Vice President Gore say, scientists do NOT all agree on global warming.

(4) The past decade has been one of the coldest decades we have measured.

(5) And, now, we have "Climategate". Global warming proponents have clearly been forging at least some of the data to fit whatever their agenda might be.

I'm sure there are many other reasons to reject this fairy tale but I don't dwell on the subject that much because I believe any Christian who truly believes the Bible knows man is not going to destroy the planet via man-made global warming. It will not happen.

The Vice President (and many other "green" folks) love to quote 1 Corinthians 10:26 - "For the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof". Why don't they ever quote Peter?

"But the day of the Lord will come LIKE A THIEF, and THEN the heavens will pass away with a roar and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." (2 Peter 3:10)

The earth will not cease to exist until God determines to end its existence. That time will come unexpectedly. That time will be a work of God, NOT the results of man's pollution.

As I told my student, this fact is, to me, a believer in Christ, the nail in the coffin of the global warming argument. If you truly believe the Bible is the Word of God then man made global warming is a bunch of nonsense. We are NOT going to kill ourselves or the planet according to what God has said.

Christians must be good stewards of this planet. But we don't need to be idiots about the environment.

Mr. Vice President, you claim to be a follower of Christ. I challenge you to read your Bible and see what God says about the end of the earth.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

“What Difference Do It Make?”: A Book Review

Ron Hall and Denver Moore, the authors of “Same Kind of Different as Me”, return (with Lynn Vincent) with the sequel to their New York Times bestseller. I have not read their original work but, after reading this one, plan to do so in the near future.

Even if you have not read their first work, you learn enough of the history of the authors in this book to enable you to understand their message. Denver was a homeless person, befriended by Ron’s wife, Deborah. Deborah’s passion for the homeless and for Denver had a significant impact on her husband and, when she died as a result of cancer, Ron picked up her message and, together with Denver, ran with it. This book is a continuation of Ron and Denver’s story, covering much of what has occurred since the success of “Same Kind of Different as Me”.

The chapters mostly alternate between Ron and Denver’s stories. These stories are testimonies of God working through painful situations and awkward moments, and changing the lives of many individuals from varying backgrounds and life histories. The reader comes away understanding that, with God, one person can make a big difference in the lives of others.

While I enjoyed almost everything I read, I found myself more attracted to the simple wisdom of Denver. For example, listen to his wisdom from pages 45 & 46.

And needy people don’t need no perfect people neither. When Jesus sent His disciples out, He sent Peter right along, knowin Peter had a bad temper and a potty mouth and was gon’ deny Him three times. He sent John and James even though they was full a’ pride and fightin over the best seat at the table. He even sent Judas, knowin Judas was goin’ etray Him. Even though Jesus knowed all a’ their sin and weakness, He sent ‘em anyway.

Listen, if the devil ain’t messin with you, he’s already got you. If you is waitin to clean up your own life before you get out and help somebody else, you may as well take off your shoes and crawl back in the bed ‘cause it ain’t never gon’ happen. Jesus don’t need no help from no perfect saints. If He did, He wouldn’t a’ gone up yonder and left us down here in charge.

Or, here’s another example from page 61:

Now Denver completed his verdict and gave me (Ron) an ultimatum. Keeping me pinned with that eyeball, he said, “You know what you did? You judged a man without knowin his heart. And I’m gon’ tell you something. If you gon’ walk these streets with me, you gon’ have to learn how to serve these people without judging ‘em. Let the judging be up to God.

Those have to be some of the most profound words I have ever read outside of Scripture on the subject of not judging others!

The book is laced with real stories from others who were touched by “Same Kind of Different as Me”. Also, Ron and Denver relate stories from the lives of some of the people who intersected their life. In particular, the story of Mr. Ballantine in chapter 17 and the “Big Chicken Dinner” man from Seattle described in chapter 24.

This work is a very easy 201 pages to read but, more importantly, an enjoyable and profitable 201 pages to read. I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy and see for yourself.

In the meantime, I need to get my hands on a copy of “Same Kind of Different as Me”!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is My Desk "Captive to the Word of God"?

I actually have two desks facing each other in my work area at home (plus several filing cabinets and bookshelves). On one of these desks I do most of my work: sermon prep, lecture prep, grading papers, secular computer work, paying bills, etc. My other desk was intended to be used as a secondary work area when I had multiple activities going on at once.

Well, I turned around and the state of my second desk finally hit me. What a mess! On its surface are folders containing notes, several books (many of them Bible translations or Scripture related), pictures, pens, pamphlets, church items, and homeschooling software. I can barely see the desktop itself!

This is NOT what I mean by the title of this blog: "Captive to the Word of God". Yet, that is almost how I feel when I look at this desk, namely, a captive! It is time to put some of the folders into my filing cabinets, books back into their shelves, and the "junk" into the trash can.

The title of the blog actually refers to a statement made by Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms in 1521. His remark reflects my desire to be like him in this sense: may every step of my life be so governed by God's Word that I become a captive to that Word.

Appearing before members of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, in the German city of Worms, the exchange provoking Luther's statement went something like this:

Archbishop of Trier, Eck (pointing to books on a table): "Are these your writings?"

Luther: "The books are all mine, and I have written more."

Eck: "Do you defend them all, or do you care to reject a part?"

Luther: "Most serene emperor, most illustrious princes, most clement lords, if I have not given some of you your proper titles I beg you to forgive me. I am not a courtier, but a monk. You asked me yesterday whether I would repudiate them. They are all mine, but as for the second question, they are not all of one sort. Some deal with faith and life so simply and evagelically that my very enemies are compelled to regard them as worthy of Christian reading. Even the bull itself does not treat all my books as of one kind. If I should renounce these, I would be the only man on earth to damn the truth confessed alike by friends an foes. A second class of my works inveighs against the desolation of the Christian world by the evil lives and teaching of the papists. Who can deny this when the universal complaints testify that by the laws of the popes the consciences of men are racked?"

Emperor Charles V: "No!"

Luther: "Should I recant at this point, I would open the door to more tyranny and impiety, and it will be all the worse should it appear that I had done so at the instance of the Holy Roman Empire. A third class contains attacks on private individuals. I confess I have been more caustic than comports with my profession, but I am being judged, not on my life, but for the teaching of Christ, and I cannot renounce these works either, without increasing tyranny and impiety. ... I commend myself to Your Majesty. May you not suffer my adversaries to make you ill disposed to me without cause. I have spoken."

Eck: "Martin, you have not sufficiently distinguished your works. The earlier were bad and the latter worse. Your plea to be heard from Scripture is the one always made by heretics. You do nothing but renew the errors of Wyclif and Hus. ... Martin, how can you assume that you are the only one to understand the sense of Scripture? ... I ask you, Martin--answer candidly and without horns--do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?"

Luther: "Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen."

April 18, 1521 (taken primarily from Bainton's work "Here I Stand", pp. 141-144).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bearing Fruit in Your Old Age

I am 59 years of age and there are days when I physically feel every second of my years! Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I am still alive and in fairly good health. Medication helps my blood pressure remain "normal", my heart from going "a-fib", and my blood sugars close to where they should be. I am thankful God has granted wisdom to men and women who have developed such medicine.

Yet this year has yielded some evidence to my physical decline, evidence I have not seen in the past. My right eye was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy essentially meaning diabetes is slowing destroying sight in that eye. Furthermore, two tears were found in that retina. A couple of laser treatments have repaired the tears and also assisted in reversing some of the retinopathy.

Also, while accompanying one of my daughters to her doctor's appointment, a dermitologist took more interest in me than in her. She recommended I set up my own appointment with her which I did. Her examination concluded I had some pre-cancerous skin cells on my right arm as well as on a portion of my face. She treated the right arm in the office but, given the extent of the damage she saw on my face, recommended I use a prescribed cream to treat that area. She told me to use the ointment twice a day for 3 weeks but not to begin until the weather was cooler, around October 1st. She forewarned me that the medicine would make my face "perfect" for Halloween!

Well, the treatments have begun and, after only one week, the bad cells are beginning to show up as dark spots on my face. My face has become sore and aches when I wash it. I discovered yesterday that shaving above my beard is so painful now that I will bypass that act until my skin has recovered from this treatment. Indeed, I am looking more and more like an ogre every day and still have two more weeks of applying this cream!

I say all of this to explain how all of this has made me feel quite old this week (plus my oldest child turned 36!). My reflexes are slow, my eyes ache, my face hurts, my joints experience pain with minimal use: I am a mess. How can the Lord continue to use such a servant?

My daily Scripture reading brought me to Psalm 92 today where I read:

"They (the righteous) still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him" (Psalm 92:14-15, ESV).

Wow, what a great text! "They still bear fruit in old age". Well, I'm old and getting older every day. What a great promise to know that, despite my age and my aches and pains, I can still be fruitful in the work of our Lord. I can still declare the Lord is righteous. The Lord will still use me even with a face that might rival that of the Frankenstein monster!

The phrase "full of sap and green" bothered me a bit because I figured some family member or friend might read this blog entry and make some comment about me being "sappy". So, I checked out the passage in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and read this:

"They will stear bear fruit in old age, healthy and green, to declare: 'The Lord is just; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.'"

In the midst of our ever increasing age, our mounting pains, and our reduced physical abilities, REJOICE in the promise that, in God's Kingdom, even the old bear fruit. They declare to everyone that crosses their path, whether by preaching, teaching, sharing, giving, singing, worshiping, or writing, "the Lord is just".

May Jesus be praised for not only redeeming us and providing the righteousness by which we are declared just before God, but for using us as His servants, even in our old age!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"The Kingdom of the Occult": A Book Review

“The Kingdom of the Occult” is the work of Jill Martin Rische, eldest daughter of Dr. Walter Martin, and Kurt Van Gorden, a minister and missionary. Dr. Martin, deceased in 1989, nevertheless, plays a major role in this work as noted by his daughter in the introduction.

Years ago, I remember my father pacing the foyer of our home, leafing through a notebook of references on the occult. It had always been in the back of his mind
to write a companion volume to “The Kingdom of the Cults”, but something always prevented him from beginning the new project.

Rische and Van Gorden have taken the skeleton formed by “The Bible Answer Man”, edited transcripts from lectures to add some muscle, and then put on their own flesh to produce this body of work. And it is SOME body!

Cover to cover, the book is 733 pages in length. It includes a very solid index, a lengthy bibliography, plus two appendices. Sandwiched in between are 18 chapters loaded with material on almost any occult practice one might encounter. Some of these practices, of course, are the usual ones which come to mind when we talk about the occult: Satanism, Witchcraft, and Astrology. But there is much more here to sample than these standard dishes. One chapter (60 pages in length) deals with Kabbalah (probably my favorite chapter). There’s a chapter discussing Psychic Phenomena. And, the authors even have material on the occult practices associated with UFOs!

Basically, each chapter takes a specific occult practice and provides a brief introduction. Then the authors discuss the basics of this practice. If there are variations within this practice, those are also shared. Included in the material are case studies (often conducted by Dr. Martin himself). The chapter comes to a conclusion by presenting a Scriptural response to this religion. Finally, the authors provide some recommended resources to help the reader if they need additional information.

In order to review this work, I read the book from beginning to end. This was quite an effort, in fact, it was pure torture! Several months have passed since I received the book and began my trek through the chapters. If you are looking for a book to sit down and read straight through, this is NOT that book.

But if you want a solid reference work on the various occult practices, this is the one for you. Although I believe Dr. Martin’s “The Kingdom of the Cults” is a better work, “The Kingdom of the Occult” deals with many difficult (and strange) religious groups and it does so in extensive detail. If you are involved with individuals or groups caught up in one of the occult movements and want to better understand the movement so you can reach the people involved, this IS the work you need.

As a reference work, I heartily recommend “The Kingdom of the Occult”.

"Fearless" by Max Lucado: A Book Review

The musical “Mary Poppins” contains a song which says “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. If my medicine is a book by popular, best selling author Max Lucado, then I have yet to find my “sugar”. Despite attempting to read several of Mr. Lucado’s works, I have yet to complete any of them other than his newest work, “Fearless”. To be frank, I struggled to complete this book as well.

My problems with “Fearless” as well as with Mr. Lucado’s other books have nothing to do with the content. I found nothing of any consequence in the contents of this work to which I disagreed. But, as with all of his works, I simply do not enjoy the author’s writing style. While he does use the Scripture quite extensively, he uses far too many examples and illustrations in my opinion. For me, these slow me down and, in some cases, distract me from the Biblical point he is attempting to communicate. As I said above, this problem for me is not unique to “Fearless”.

On the other hand, there are several positive elements in this work.

1. It is fairly brief. There are 221 pages but the actual text ends on page 180. “Fearless” is a quick read.

2. The book contains an extensive discussion guide (close to 40 pages) for those who wish to use it in a study group. This guide provides some very good questions, observations, and Scripture texts for each of the chapters in the book.

3. While I dislike the abundance of illustrations the author uses, some of them are absolutely wonderful. For example, in his chapter on worst-case scenarios, Mr. Lucado shares a story about two girls and their father at the pool to illustrate various ways to address such fears:

“He’s in the water; they jump into his arms. Let me restate that: one jumps; the other ponders. The dry one gleefully watches her sister leap. She dances up and down as the other splashes. But when her dad invites her to do the same, she shakes her head and backs away….How many people spend life on the edge of the pool? Consulting caution. Ignoring faith. Never taking the plunge. Happy to experience life vicariously through others. Preferring to take no risk than any risk. For fear of the worst, they never enjoy life at its best. By contrast, their sister jumps. Not with foolish abandon, but with belief in the goodness of a father’s heart and trust in a father’s arms.” (p. 81)


4. The subject addressed by the book is quite timely. Many people, including believers, are fearful of losing their jobs, failing health, financial trouble, or problems with their children. “Fearless” provides Biblical insight for countering these fears. As Mr. Lucado says, “Acknowledge threats but refuse to be defined by them” (p. 177).

If you are like me and have great difficulty reading a book by Max Lucado then you, too, will probably not enjoy “Fearless”. But obviously, millions of individuals do enjoy his books and I believe they will thoroughly enjoy this work as well. To them I recommend this book.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dr. Mohler's Message on the Future of the SBC

If you are a Southern Baptist, I would encourage you to take the time (just over an hour) and listen to the message Dr. Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, delivered this week on the future of the SBC. It is outstanding!

You may find the video or audio sections at this site.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beddome: Motivation for Sharing the Gospel

I enjoy reading the sermons and hymns of Benjamin Beddome, an 18th century Reformed pastor. Recently, I came across the following quote which deeply struck me. Although Beddome was preaching on the faithfulness of God, these words are part of his conclusion. To me, they present solid motivation for believers to share the Gospel with the lost as well as an appeal to the lost to believe the Gospel.

"Whilst saints rejoice, let sinners tremble at God's faithfulness. As God is faithful to his promises, so is he also to his threatenings. He is as unchangeable in his wrath as in his mercy."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Environmentalism & The Pristine Myth

I received a link to an interesting article on the subject of the environment of the Americas prior to the arrival of Columbus and other European explorers. The article is brief and presents a view not heard very often in political circles these days. You may read it here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Church" for the 21st Century: Me, Me, Me

Last week I accompanied my wife and six young people to Bolivar for the annual Saved By Faith Youth Challenge (SBFYC), an event which God has used to greatly bless my family and many others over the years. During the week, three videos were shown prior to some of the sessions concerning the church in today's society. I found them to be humerous and very thought provoking.

Upon returning home, I have found these videos on the web. So I am posting links to them here for your enjoyment AND consideration.

"Me Church"

"Me Worship"

"Cruise vs Battle"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Walking Worthy of the Lord

This past Sunday I preached on Colossians 1:10-12a, "A Worthy Walk". Paul writes:

"...that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing..." (Col. 1:10a)

Yesterday, I ran across some of Calvin's thoughts concerning such a walk in his "Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life". Notice this gem from pages 18 and 19:

"Because the Father has reconciled us to Himself in Christ, therefore He commands us to be conformed to Christ as to our pattern. ... Unless we ardently and prayerfully devote ourselves to Christ's righteousness we do not only faithlessly revolt from our Creator, but we also abjure Him as our Savior."

WHOA! That last sentence hits hard! While I may have been "loud" and "forceful" in my message, Calvin's words tower above anything I may have said.

Calvin begins with "unless we", preparing us for two, and only two, possibilities.

1. "we ardently and prayerfully devote ourselves to Christ's righteousness" - In other words we are to strive to be conformed to His image. Note the adjective "ardently" meaning "passionately". "Ardently...devote": we must "go all out" in our efforts to be like Christ, to be worthy of the Lord. That is one possibility.

2. On the other hand, if we do NOT put everything into being like Christ, Calvin says "we do not only faithlessly revolt from our Creator, but we also abjure Him as our Savior". "Abjure" means to "to give up strongly". To abjure the Lord brings to mind what Peter did when he denied Christ. Calvin says if I am not striving all out to be like Christ then I have revolted from my Creator and denied my Lord.

To Calvin, there is no third possibility. There is no "carnal Christian" category for those who claim to be Christians but who live like the lost in this world. Your life denounces your profession and, as a result, serves as a faithless revolt against God and a strong denial of Christ.

Oh that I could say so much in so few words as John Calvin! More importantly, though, may I forever strive to be conformed to the image of God's Son, to walk a worthy walk pleasing unto the Lord, so I may not be counted among those who rebel and deny our Lord.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Giveaway from blog

The blog has announced a giveaway in honor of its first annivesary. Check it out here!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another Piper Sermon Jam Video

Here is a link to another John Piper "sermon jam video". This one is being used to launch Desiring God & Reach Records' "Don't Waste Your Life" tour. It's only 3 minutes and will grab your attention.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Cooperative Program

At the outset, I am fully prepared to be corrected for any misunderstandings I may have on how the Cooperative Program works within our Convention. I believe I understand how the money "flows" from a local church, to the state convention, and then to the national convention itself. But, if what I present below is incorrect, I encourage comments correcting my misunderstanding.

I am a Southern Baptist minister and fully support the Cooperative Program as one of the best approaches devised by man to financially support missionaries here and abroad. Based on their budget allocations, portions of the contributions made to Southern Baptist churches are sent to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and, from there, to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) where they are pooled with contributions from churches around the world to support missions.

While my statement is true, it does not tell the entire story. Every year the SBC publishes its Cooperative Program budget such as this one for 2009 displayed at the top of this article.

When you read this breakdown, you learn $72.79 of every $100 given to the SBC is allocated to missions, $50 to international missions and $22.79 to North American missions. In addition, $22.16 is being allocated for Theological Education, most of it at the Southern Baptist seminaries. So, almost $95 out of every $100 is set aside for missions and theological education of ministers and missionaries.

Unfortunately, this is not actually true. As I noted earlier, the money a church designates to the Cooperative Program is sent to the MBC for distribution. What many Missouri Baptists do not know is how the MBC handles this money. The MBC has budget allocations for all incoming funds. For 2009, here is how every $100 received is distributed:

$36.25 is sent to the Southern Baptist Convention.
$42.75 is budgeted to the Missouri Baptist Executive Board
$2.60 is set aside for SBC Annuity and Insurance
$1.60 is set aside as Reserved funds
$3.30 is given to the Missouri Baptist Children's Home
$13.50 is budgeted for Christian Higher Education

In other words, for every $100 a church gives to the "Cooperative Program", $63.75 remains in Missouri; only $36.25 is sent to the SBC.

Such a distribution changes the picture when it comes to "mission giving". What this means is for every $100 a church sends to the MBC, only $18 plus change goes to the international missions and only $8 plus change goes to North American missions. If you throw in the theological education ministries line item, a total of less than $35 goes to missions out of every $100. That is quite a contrast to the $95 we thought was being allocated!

Furthermore, the line item which has the largest budget allocation in the MBC and SBC combined is the Missouri Executive Board Budget. They receive $42.75 out of every $100. While I do not know all this Board does for us (and I am certain there are many good things it does), such an allocation sounds "bloated" in my mind, especially when we are giving the people in the pew the impression their donations are supporting mission work.

I believe Dr. Danny Akin of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is correct in calling for a Great Commission Resurgence within the SBC. One of the articles documented as part of this resurgence is Article IX which I quote here in its entirety:

IX. A Commitment to a More Effective Convention Structure.

We call upon all Southern Baptists, through our valued partnerships of SBC agencies, state conventions/institutions, and Baptist associations to evaluate our Convention structures and priorities so that we can maximize our energy and resources for the health of our local churches and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. This commitment recognizes the great strength of our partnership, which has been enabled by the Cooperative Program and enhanced by a belief that we can do more together than we can separately.

At the midpoint of the 20th century the Southern Baptist Convention was a convention characterized by impressive institutions, innovative programs, and strong loyalty from the churches. But the convention has too often failed to adapt its structure and programs to the changing culture. We are frequently aiming at a culture that went out of existence years ago, failing to understand how mid-20th century methods and strategies are not working in the 21st century.

Some of our convention structures at all levels need to be streamlined for more faithful stewardship of the funds entrusted to them. We must address with courage and action where there is overlap and duplication of ministries, and where poor stewardship is present. We are grateful for God’s gift of Cooperative Program dollars to both state and national entities. Both state and national entities must be wise stewards of these funds, and closely examine whether the allocation of Cooperative Program dollars genuinely contributes to Kingdom work or simply maintains the status quo. We are grateful for those churches and state conventions that are seeking to move more Cooperative Program dollars beyond their respective selves, and encourage this movement to continue and increase in the days ahead.

We must take steps toward simplifying our convention structures in an effort to streamline our structure, clarify our institutional identity, and maximize our resources for Great Commission priorities. We should ask hard questions about every aspect of our Convention structure and priorities and pray for God’s wisdom and blessing as we pursue wise answers to those questions. We must be willing to make needed changes for the good of our churches and the spread of the gospel. We believe that North American church planting, pioneer missions around the globe, and theological education are three priorities around which Southern Baptists will unite. Our Convention must be examined at every level to facilitate a more effective pursuit of these priorities.

The Great Commission, missions and theological education is the responsibility of the local church. As a convention of churches, we cooperate together to support theological education so that we can continually train competent shepherds who will lead churches through teaching, love and example, and who will see to it that the churches they lead are Great Commission churches that are promoting missions and advancing theological education. We are blessed as Southern Baptists to have such an avenue to serve the local church. Furthermore, we are grateful for the impact of the Conservative Resurgence that has given us seminaries committed to the inerrancy, infallibility, and the sufficiency of the Bible.

We believe the local church must be “ground zero” in a Great Commission Resurgence, and that our associations, state conventions and national agencies exist to serve and assist the churches in their divine assignment. We are convinced that as our people see our entities in this light, they will respond in even greater support of the Cooperative Program.

I agree with the call to reexamine how Missouri Baptists allocate the gifts of God's people and the structure of our MBC to see if we can, perhaps, reduce the amount of money remaining in the state and send more to the SBC for missions work. Surely such a need is critical in our present day as revealed by the International Missions Board's inability to send out some missionaries due to the lack of funds.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One of those Heartbreaking Sundays

This past Sunday I preached on the "gospel" based on Colossians 1:5b-8. I sense the Lord's presence very much during my message as I explained what the gospel is and how the Lord uses it in our lives. I don't recall how many times I told the people the need "to repent and believe" and in how many ways I said it. Over and over and over during the message I continued to call people to hear the gospel, repent of their sins, and trust Christ.

In the congregation were more than a few individuals who are listed on our church's prayer list as those needing salvation. Periodically I would find myself looking at them as I called for folks to heed the gospel. Some of them appeared to be sleeping. Others were looking around the auditorium. None of them appeared to be paying any attention to my plea.

Now this was not the first time I have experienced such a response to a message clearly aimed at those apart from Christ. Yes, I call sinners to repent and believe with each and every sermon I preach. But, every now and then, the text leads you directly to a message of salvation and this was clearly one of them. My heart is always broken when I see the word falling on bad ground and being stolen away by "birds" or choked off by "thorns". Oh, if only they could see and hear the message of God. Yet, they sit there, appearing completely unaware of the doom they are courting and the judgment that is awaiting them! Indeed it just breaks my heart.

But it does not surprise me. Clearly their response is to be expected from those who are spiritual dead and depraved as Paul teaches in Romans 3 and Ephesians 2. They will NOT respond on their own just as the Lord said in John 6:44. They are spiritually dead and without hope except for the grace of God.

May God's grace touch their lives and may His Spirit work a work of regeneration in their hearts before it is too late, no matter who might be preaching the Gospel to them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Present Reading List

Books in progress as of May 22, 2009:

"Kingdom of the Occult" by Walter Martin, et. al.

"Baptist History Celebration 2007"

"John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology", ed. Burk Parsons

"Sermons Printed from the Manuscripts of the Late Rev. Benjamin Beddome"

"Theology for the People" by William Plumer

"Foundations of Grace: 1400 B.C. to A.D. 100" by Steven Lawson

"Law of God" by William Plumer

"Living for God's Glory" by Joel R. Beeke

"From Grief to Glory" by James Bruce III

"A Cluster of Camphire: Words of Cheer and Comfort to Sick and Sorrowful Souls" by Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, May 21, 2009

English Standard Version

At the beginning of 2008, I decided on using a different approach for my daily Scripture reading. My two-fold change was:

1. Use a different daily reading plan than I used the year before.
2. Use a different translation each year until I have gone through the primary English translations.

So, my 2008 daily readings were all in the Holman Christian Standard Bible using the John R. Kohlenberger "Read Through The Bible In A Year" chronological plan. I found the HCSB to be very easy reading but the Kohlenberger plan more of a challenge. For obvious reasons, you read no New Testament passages until September 30th. I know the Old Testament is as inspired as the New but, really, don't we all enjoy some devotional reading in the New Testament before the last quarter of the year?!

This year I switched back to the Robert Murray M'Cheyne plan which I have used and enjoyed for many years. For my Bible translation, I am using the English Standard Version. The more I read from it, the more I am enjoying it.

When I am intensely studying God's Word for teaching or preaching purposes, next to the Greek and Hebrew I prefer the New American Standard version. I have found the NAS more often faithfully renders the text than do other translations. But, simply reading the NAS devotionally is a challenge. The wording does not flow as well as the KJV or ESV primarily due to its allegience to the text. It's "literalness" comes across as "wooden" and "stiff".

While I will continue to use the NAS in study, I would rather use the ESV for devotional reading as well as for worship and teaching purposes. I have switched to the ESV in my Missouri Baptist classes and have also found myself using the ESV more and more in my sermon delivery.

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod has chosen the ESV as their standard translation. If you would like some reasons why, check it out here. Also, John Piper's church, Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis, uses the ESV. You may read Dr. Piper's reasons for selecting the ESV here.

Whatever translation you use, please read the Lord's Word each and every day. May He bless your efforts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bethesda Update #1

Yesterday was my first official day as interim pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church in St. Charles. What a privilege it is to be called to shepherd a flock but what an awesome responsibility it is as well. I do pray for the Lord’s wisdom, patience, strength, and blessing in this calling.

I renewed some acquaintances I have made over the past two months as well as met other folks for the first (or second or third!) time. What used to be a steel trap of a memory has quickly diminished in its capability resulting in my rapid forgetfulness of names or, even worse, membership status of some! A pastor always feels very badly when he greets someone as a visitor only to be told they are members! Hopefully, those to whom I directed my incorrect greetings yesterday will be forgiving since, after all, it was my first official Sunday!

I chatted with a few folks during Sunday School and then walked into one of the adult classes for the final 15 minutes or so. This was followed by our morning worship service in which I began an exposition of the book of Colossians, preaching on the first two verses of the book. After the service, we met in the fellowship hall for dinner and cake celebrating the graduation of two members from school plus my arrival as interim. In the evening, one of our deacons taught a lesson from Proverbs but I only made the last forty minutes due to a teaching commitment at Highland View. Afterwards I visited again with some of the people and then moved in several boxes of my library, stacking the books on a couple of the bookshelves in my office.

Overall it was a great day. The people have been so gracious to me and my family. God has placed some very talented and committed believers in this fellowship and I believe He is doing and will continue to do a great work there.

To be perfectly frank, the only disappointment of the entire day was my message. Despite hours of study and prayer, I have preached much better sermons than I did yesterday. For those who have never preached, it is difficult to explain the feeling a preacher has when he feels very prepared and yet the message comes across as flat. Yesterday was one of those days.

While my pastoral experience is somewhat limited, I have learned that Sunday afternoon is usually my most depressing time of the week. I approach most Sunday mornings with great anticipation only to have the air let out of the balloon by the end of the service. Rarely do I preach a message as well as I think I should and a long Sunday afternoon ensues. And, yet, I have also learned another, far more important truth:

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

While my sermon did not meet my expectations, I am thankful the Word of God I proclaimed yesterday will accomplish the Lord’s purposes even if I have no idea what those purposes are. Praise God that He is a sovereign God!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Favorite Poem

There are days from time to time when one's mind is overwhelmed with all that is taking place and all that is left to be done. Such times may cause us to stop and consider whether we are, perhaps, losing our mind!

Today is such a day for me. When I paused briefly to reflect on what lies before me these next few days and found myself a bit dismayed by all I need to do, my thoughts turned to a devoted believer of a prior era who, in fact, fought insanity much of his life: William Cowper (pronounced "cooper"). Anytime I hear the name "Cowper", immediately I recall the words of one of his poems and one of my favorite hymns.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel's veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day,
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its pow'r,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more.

E'er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die.

When this poor lisping stamm'ring tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song
I'll sing Thy pow'r to save.

The truthfulness of Cowper's words are always a soothing salve to my mind.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"No, Mr. President"

I am thankful for John Piper's boldness and his faithfulness to the Word of God no matter how "politically incorrect" he is! Take time to view this video.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Perhaps you have already seen this little video. But, a link to it was in my e-mail today and, after viewing it, I thought it was worth watching. Please take the time to do so.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Christian Ethics Dilemma Question

Dr. Russell Moore has an interesting and quite challenging question posted on his blog today. His Christian Ethics' students must answer it as part of their course work. I'm glad I'm not in his class and I do pray I do not have to address this situation any time soon in my new pastorate! But, given our society as it is, I may be wise to work on my own answer prior to ever facing this situation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday and Self-Salvation

Praise God for His Son who cried out from the cross, "It is finished." He has accomplished for me what I could have never accomplished for myself: the redemption and salvation of my soul!

In contrast, take a look at some who strive their entire lives to achieve their own salvation here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Message to Pastors and Churches

A friend of mine just posted a link to this video on Facebook. In light of some ads I have seen on local television concerning a specific church and their "entertaining" Easter worship services planned for this Sunday, I thought I would add a link to this blog so those who might miss it on Facebook would be able to see it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Response to Mythbuster

When I first began this blog, I discovered almost immediately the necessity to monitor comments. The first comment posted (which I later deleted) was filled with unnecessary language as well as made absolutely no sense relative to my entry. So I have the capability of deciding whether to permit a comment or not.

Some blogger named “Mythbuster” attempted to post a comment to my March 12 entry in this blog. I decided to block the comment for one primary reason: most folks do not often view comments. Comments get lost in the “blog shuffle”. This comment demanded a reply and such a reply would also be lost in a simple comment. I believed this specific “comment” needed more visibility than a simple comment.

So, first, I am posting the comment in its entirety. Then, I will step through it paragraph by paragraph and attempt to address “Mythbuster”’s statements.

For starters, there was no word for embryo in ancient Greek or ancient Hebrew. For that matter, there was no word for abortion either, even though abortions were taking place during that period in history.

Furthermore, if we look more closely at the Bible we see passages which actually show that God does not consider an embryo/fetus to be a human life.

Take, for example, Exodus 21:22-25 which shows that a woman's health is more important than that of a fetus.(22)If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. (23)And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, (24)Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (25)Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.This clearly states that if a woman suffers a miscarriage due to two men fighting but she is not harmed then her husband can take the other man to court, but if she is also harmed the punishment must fit the crime.

In Leviticus 27:6, God commands that a monetary value be placed on children who were no younger than one month old. Any younger than that and they had no value.

In Numbers 3:15, God commands that a census be taken, but only of those one month old and above. Those younger than that, including fetuses, were not counted.

Even in Genesis 2:7 we see that God did not consider Adam to be a "living soul" until God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life".

I could go on but I think these examples state it best. Either human life does not begin at conception or God's words clearly contradict themselves and therefore could not be from an omnipotent being.

I do not want to be repetitive but I am going to respond to these statements one paragraph at a time by first repeating each paragraph.

For starters, there was no word for embryo in ancient Greek or ancient Hebrew. For that matter, there was no word for abortion either, even though abortions were taking place during that period in history.

Mythbuster is referring to my comment attached to Luke 1:36. This is what I said:

"And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has conceived a son" (not an embryo, or a blob of cells, but a SON; Luke 1:36).

Unfortunately, he misses my point. Whether Greek or Hebrew had a word for embryo is not the issue. The fact is the angel has confirmed Elizabeth conceived a son (huion in the Greek) and not some impersonal entity. The conception resulted in a male human. If that was not the angel’s intention, the statement could have read “has conceived an it” (auto in the Greek). In this verse, “son” (huion) is the direct object of the verb “conceived”.

Concerning the Old Testament passages I quoted (the Hebrew passages of which there are many more), my point, again, is not the absence of the word “fetus” or “embryo” in Hebrew but the use of the personal pronoun translated by such words as “me” and “you”, not “it”.

Were abortions taking place at that time? Almost certainly they were. But that does not justify abortion. Since the eating of the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden, man has been and is a sinner. Abortion has been and continues to be a sin no matter in what era it was or is practiced.

Furthermore, if we look more closely at the Bible we see passages which actually show that God does not consider an embryo/fetus to be a human life.Take, for example, Exodus 21:22-25 which shows that a woman's health is more important than that of a fetus.(22)If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. (23)And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, (24)Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (25)Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.This clearly states that if a woman suffers a miscarriage due to two men fighting but she is not harmed then her husband can take the other man to court, but if she is also harmed the punishment must fit the crime.

When I read this text it does not “clearly state” what Mythbuster is claiming. There have been debates on this passage among Christian scholarship but I believe the passage is better understood quite differently. Verse 22 states one side of the problem while verses 23-25 give us the other side. Using the English Standard Version, let me look at those two divisions.

“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.”

So, in this case you have some men fighting and during the fight they strike a pregnant woman who goes into labor. The result: the child (children) is born with “no harm”, i.e., the child was not injured by the men in this fight. The woman’s husband imposes a fine on them for hurting his wife and the judges demand the payment.

“But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

This is case 2. The pregnant woman is struck and goes into labor. However, the child is born with problems (“there is harm”). In that case, what is the penalty to be assessed those who struck the woman? It is the “lex talionis”, the law of retaliation. If that child has lost an eye, the men will lose an eye. If that child has lost a foot, the men will lose a foot. If that child has lost its life, well, you get the picture.

Furthermore, Mythbuster said this passage shows a “woman's health is more important than that of a fetus.” Somehow that is supposed to prove that “God does not consider an embryo/fetus to be a human life.” As I have stated in other blog entries, there are cases when one must choose the life of the mother over the life of the unborn child. For example, a tubal pregnancy will result in the death of both mother and child if the child is not removed. In order to save the life of the mother, the child’s life must be ended before birth. The LIFE (not health) of the mother, in this case, is of more value than the LIFE of the unborn child. But that statement does not lead to the conclusion that I do consider the unborn child to be anything less than a human life and neither does God.

On to his next example:

In Leviticus 27:6, God commands that a monetary value be placed on children who were no younger than one month old. Any younger than that and they had no value.

If you read the entire chapter it becomes apparent the discussion concerns giving a monetary offering in place of an actual dedication of a person to the Lord. The NIV renders part of verse 2 as “If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate persons to the Lord by giving equivalent values…”. Following this are the various equivalent values for individuals. We find the following values:

- males, over 60 years: 15 shekels
- females, over 60 years: 10 shekels
- males, 20-60: 50 shekels
- females, 20-60: 30 shekels
- males, 5-20: 20 shekels
- females, 5-20: 10 shekels
- males, 1 month – 5 years: 5 shekels
- females, 1 month – 5 years: 3 shekels

Dedicated service to the Lord is valued more for those who are more capable of serving him, i.e., those in the 20-60 years of age. Those younger are of less value in terms of service as are those much older. Serving males are of more value than serving females.

Given the infant mortality rate was quite high, it isn’t surprising no equivalent value was placed on a one month old. Is Mythbuster implying that God does not believe an individual is a living human being until they are at least one month old?

In Numbers 3:15, God commands that a census be taken, but only of those one month old and above. Those younger than that, including fetuses, were not counted.

Mythbuster is attempting to use the same argument on Numbers 3:15 as he did in Leviticus 27:6. So there is no need to repeat what I said relative to that verse. In the Numbers passage, the Levites are being counted for service in the ministry. The census taken does not include those under one month which, again, is not surprising given the infant mortality rate. Once more I would ask Mythbuster if he is inferring that God does not consider an individual a living human until they are one month of age?

One additional note, though. If Numbers 3:15 implies God does not consider those under one month to be a living human, then God must not consider those under 20 years to be human either (see Numbers 1:3 for the counting of people in all tribes but Levi, the tribe being counted in Numbers 3).

Even in Genesis 2:7 we see that God did not consider Adam to be a "living soul" until God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life".

I’m assuming Mythbuster is implying life does not begin until the “fetus” takes a breath. Otherwise, I see no reason for even referring to this verse.

First, anyone who believes in the creation account (and I suspect Mythbuster does not which makes his using this text curious at best), understands the creation of Adam and Eve was a unique event. Obviously neither could be born in some normal way. In reality, this is the “which came first, the chicken or the egg” question. The answer: the chicken. God created Adam and Eve as adults. Therefore, using their “births” as a model for typical human births is illogical.

Second, Mybuster may consult his Hebrew and note that Genesis 2:7 reads “breathed into his nostrils the BREATH OF LIVES”. Sometimes Hebrew uses plural words to indicate majesty. Perhaps that’s what is happening here. But perhaps the plural is referring to the two lives God breathed into Adam: physical life and spiritual life. Adam’s heart was not beating prior to this act. Adam’s brain was not functioning prior to this act. Adam was not moving his arms or his legs prior to this act. In ONE ACT, Adam became a physical and spiritual being, i.e., a living soul.

Wow, that sounds like what happens at conception to me! The heart of the unborn is beating before the mother even realizes she’s pregnant. Physical life is present at conception because conception results in continual growth. Physical life exists for that child before it ever takes its first breath of air because it has already received the breath of God at its conception.

Now to his conclusion:

I could go on but I think these examples state it best. Either human life does not begin at conception or God's words clearly contradict themselves and therefore could not be from an omnipotent being.

Nothing Mythbuster has said or any passage he has quoted proves human life does not begin at conception. Perhaps he should go back and examine the passages I quoted. Interestingly, he never addressed them other than his comment on the word “embryo”.

Second, he has offered no proof that God’s Word “clearly contradict themselves”. I’m a bit perplexed how he could draw such a conclusion.

Finally, he claims if God’s words do contradict themselves then God could not be an omnipotent being. I’m sorry but that logic does not follow. God could be an all powerful (omnipotent) LYING being in which case His words could consistently contradict themselves. The correct conclusion would be if God’s word clearly contradict themselves He, therefore, is not a God of truth or He is not an omniscient (all knowing) God.

My suspicion is Mythbuster has grabbed a selection of “pro-death” arguments he has found at some web site and plastered them together to form his comment. I’ve seen these before. Nevertheless, I feel sorry for him and those like him who continue to fight for the “right” to murder unborn children for any case and at any time. May the Lord convict his heart and save his soul.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Following Christ and Killing Our Babies: Part 3 - Embryonic Stem Cell Research

While campaiging for the office last year, our President was very clear he was not a fan of the unborn. That was the primary reason I could not vote for him. Now that he is President, he is remaining faithful to his promises concerning our unborn children: killing them is just fine. In fact, the Federal government should help fund such murders in the name of research.

Despite all the claims from various Obama supporters, the handwriting is on the wall. This President is going to do whatever he can to perpetuate abortion on demand and the overused tag line "it's a woman's choice". Woman, your choice ends when you engage in the act! Permitting the flow of Federal money into embryonic stem cell research simply opens the door for more and more abortion. Check out a few articles here and here and here and here.

Some will argue that embryos (read babies) are not human but our God says differently.

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalm 51:5; David's mother conceived HIM, not some embryo).

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" says God to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5.

"And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has conceived a son" (not an embryo, or a blob of cells, but a SON; Luke 1:36).

There are other references but these alone make it clear that, from God's perspective, a new life exists at the moment of conception. To take that life is murder. And now our President has permitted a new onslaught of human life on the grounds that new cures MAY be found for various diseases. Check out the stem cell cures check list here.

Another sad day among many lately in the history of the United States. May God be merciful to us, a people who have lost their way.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Wow. I saw this video today and was simply floored. While not exactly a "baby", this young girl delivers a tremendous 5 minute speech against abortion. She does so with passion and, based on what I have been able to read, her mother says her daughter's passion against abortion is real.

I would encourage you to take 5 minutes and listen to this young lady speak.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Faith-Based Programs

Dr. Al Mohler has a very interesting blog post today on this particular subject here. After reading it, I wondered how far this issue could extend. For example, let's say a church sought some financing from a local financial institution in order to complete a building project. Assume that financial institution has recently received government monies from the TARP or some other government "stimulus" package. Do you believe the government would attempt to exert its regulatory practices over ANY group who uses funding from this institution? In other words, since this church is using funding ultimately provided, to some degree, by the federal government, that church must now comply with the hiring practices established by the federal government?

I truly hope this whole scenario is quite a stretch. But, given the political climate of our day, perhaps it is not. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Abused Pets

Last evening, a commercial came on showing pictures of cats and dogs with an announcer telling us how one pet is abused every 10 seconds in our country. The commercial was quite touching, encouraging folks to adopt one of these suffering pets.

What if there was a commercial showing murdered humans, the result of an abortion, with an announcer telling us how one baby is murdered every 20-30 seconds in our country? The commercial could encourage those carrying children to have their babies and give them up for adoption.

What do you believe would happen if such a commericial aired?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stonewall Jackson is 185 Today

January 21, 2009 marks the 185th birthday of one of the most famous Confederate generals of the War between the States, Stonewall Jackson. More importantly to me, Jackson was a devout Christian and one of my "heroes of the faith". To honor this man today, I thought I would simply post one of the letters he wrote. This letter, quite typical among the letters we have from Jackson, clearly reveals his devotion to our Lord. May God send us many more leaders such as this man.

The letter was written to Rev. Dr. Francis McFarland. Dr. McFarland was a pastor near Greenville, Virginia as well as a trustee of Washington College in Jackson's town of residence, Lexington, Virginia. He also served in the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America. Dr. McFarland and Jackson exchanged several letters during the war. He also had three sons who served in the Confederate army.

July 31st, 1862
My dear Doctor,

I am very grateful to you for your prayers to God for the success of the operation which God has entrusted to me. Please continue to pray for me and for the success of the troops entrusted to me. It cheers my heart to think that many of God's people are praying to our very kind Heavenly Father for the success of the army to which I belong. Without God's blessing I look for no success, and for every success my prayer is, that all the glory may be given unto Him to whom it is properly due. If people would but give all the glory to God, and regard his creatures as but unworthy instruments, my heart would rejoice. Alas too frequently the praise is bestowed upon the creature. Whilst we must not forget the superior importance of spiritual victories, yet I trust that you will under God's direction do what you can in securing the prayers of His people for the success of our arms, especially for the success of them which are entrusted to me, an unworthy servant, but who desires to glorify His name even in my present military calling. My trust is in God for success. Praying for a continuation of your usefulness I remain your much attached friend

T. J. Jackson