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Friday, December 22, 2006

A Sad State of Affairs

You can find in this New York Sun article the latest statistics from New York City in the year 2005 relating to birth rates. Last year there were 122,725 live births. There were also 88,891 abortions performed in New York City last year. This means that 42% of all known pregnancies ended in death.

In addition to this sad news, the referenced article above stated that of the 122,725, 44% of the children were born to unwed mothers. Furthermore, of the 122,725 births, 52% of them were paid for by Medicaid.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Mission of the Church?

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, issued a statement at the Newsweek/Washingpost On Faith Blog addressing the withdraw of some Episcopal Churches in Virginia from the oversight of the American Bishop.

The most disturbing aspect of her statement is the lack of a clear articulation of the reconciliation found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her assessment of the church's agenda of reconciliation seems only to address human-to-human relationships, and how we treat one another.

She says, "The Episcopal Church continues to focus on its mission of reconciling the world, particularly as it cares for the least, the lost, and the left out." Furthermore she states, "Our mission as a Church is the reconciliation of the world. We will continue to feed the hungry, house the homeless, educate children, heal the sick, minister to those in prison, and speak good news to those who have only heard the world's bad news."

Jesus, most assuredly speaks to man's obligation to love fellow man. But the reconciliation found in the gospel of Jesus Christ chiefly concerns itself with man's reconciliation with God. Sadly, nothing in this article comes close to saying just how one is reconciled with God. One would think if a Christian were speaking to the mission of the Christian Church, he or she would have to address man's reconciliation with God through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps Romans 5:6-11 will clear the fog:
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Reflections from Romans 5:12-21

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned...Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men (Romans 5:12,18)."

Joy to the world! The Lord is come...Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns...Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy...No more let sins and sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground; he (Jesus) comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found...Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare in room...Let men their songs employ...And heaven and nature sing...He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love, and wonders of his love (Isaac Watts, Joy to the World! The Lord is Come).

If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17)."

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth. Born to give them second birth (Wesley & Whitefield, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing).

"...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21)."

Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord: Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice; tender to me the promise of his word; In God my Savior shall my heart rejoice...Tell out, my soul, the greatness of His name: Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done; his mercy sure, from age to age the same; his holy name, the Lord, the Mighty One...Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might: Powers and dominions lay their glory by...(Timothy Dudley-Smith, Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness).

Praying with my Children

As a parent of two young girls, I am trying to teach my children the importance of prayer. We traditionally pray before all our meals. We routinely pray each night before bedtime. We pray together with the sick when Lydia makes visits with me.

From time to time I reflect on how I might teach my daughters diverse ways in which we may pray to God. Since my three year absolutely loves Away in a Manger, we recently began praying the third verse with her. It not only is an excellent prayer for children, but also for adults. I have been praying it as well when I make petitions to God.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Girls Cont'

These pics come from Glen Royal BC this past weekend.

The Girls...

Lydia begged for us to put up the Christmas tree early, so for the first time ever, we set up the tree before Thanksgiving.

Christmas Music

I am one of those who loves to listen to and sing Christmas songs. In fact my entire family loves Christmas songs. We just recently purchased Third Day: Christmas Offerings, and it has not disappointed.

The album contains many classics such as O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, and Away in a Manger. Of course all of these classics are set with a Third Day feel. In addition to the classics Third Day has written some original Christmas music as well.

Born In Bethlehem, Jesus, Light of the World, and Christmas Like a Child are all quality additions to the great extant collection of Christmas songs. Born in Bethlehem will most likely be selected for play in the congregational setting, however my favorite is Merry Christmas. This song addresses the adoption of a little girl, and how the little girl now has a home and a family with whom she can now celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Honoring My Grandmother

My Grandmother, Ruth Denton, has been a faithful member of Glen Royal Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC for many years now. She has been playing the piano at Glen Royal BC since 1963, and has rarely missed a Sunday Gathering, choir practice, funeral, or wedding. She is currently battling cancer, and taking both chemo and radiation, yet still continues to play the piano (well I might add) in worship every Sunday.

I had the honor to preach last Sunday at Glen Royal BC. This was a special service for me also, not only because we honored my grandmother, but also because many family members were present, and also because Glen Royal BC is the church where my introduction to the Christian faith began. I preached from Philippians 2:5-8 exhorting Christians to model the example of Christ to an unbelieving world.

We love you Grandma
"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Proverbs 31:30

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

New Statistics on Out of Wedlock Births

Although these statistics are preliminary, the article states they are not likely to change. 1.5 million births out of 4.1 million in 2005 were children born out of wedlock. This accounts for 37% of all births in the United States.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Culture of Death and the Church of England

The Church of England apparently is heading in the direction of affirming euthanasia in certain circumstances when dealing with sick infants.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Passing of a Church Member

Phil Crawford, a member of the church I Pastor, passed away yesterday afternoon. The attribute of Christ which Phil Crawford best demonstrated to me in the past two years was faithfulness. Phil Crawford was always among the first three to arrive at church. He taught Sunday School every Sunday morning until about three weeks ago. He probably has missed fewer Sunday Morning gatherings than I have in 2 years (about 4). And one time a month, on Sunday morning, he would minister at a rural nursing home. Phil Crawford died 91 years of age.

Rest in Peace, Phil Crawford, we will miss you.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Lord's Day Article in the BF&M

The Baptist Faith & Message, which is a commonly used statement of faith for Southern Baptist churches and is the official statement of faith for Convention entities, is a document of core Christian doctrine. The Baptist Faith & Message, first adopted in 1925 by Southern Baptists, used the New Hampshire Confession of Faith as a working document from which to craft the new statement of faith.

The Baptist Faith & Message has been revised two times, one in 1963 and again in 2000 with additional amendments being added infrequently. One particular change made from the 1963 BF&M and adopted in the BF&M 2000 occurs in the article addressing the Lord's Day. Here is the article on the Lord's Day as it appears in both the BF&M 1925 and 1963:

The first day of the week is the Lord's day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

Here is how the article is stated in the BF&M 2000:

The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The main changes in the document are the removal of the statement, "refraining from worldly amusements," and the addition of this statement, "Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Christ."

Do you agree with the change? Or do you think the change has weakened the article?

I believe in light of Paul's teaching in Colossians 2:16-17 and in Romans 14:1-12, the BF&M 2000 is more faithful to the biblical witness despite the fact that it really says less.

It would be good reading to find a tabletalk session of those on the BF&M committee who made the revision to this particular article.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Christian Witness from the Amish in Pennsylvania

Romans 12:14, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them."
Matthew 5:44, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"
Matthew 6:14, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you."
John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends."
Matthew 5:16, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

These are just some of the verses that come to mind after reading these various news reports about how the Amish community in Pennsylvania are responding to the killing of five young girls, and shooting of five others by Charles Roberts IV.

Here is a sampling of how this Amish community responded:
--Over half of those who attended the funeral of Charles Roberts IV were Amish. Read here.

--Within a few hours of the shooting, the Amish were extending forgiveness to the Roberts family and seeking to comfort them. Read here.

--And a remarkable story coming from inside the schoolhouse is the courage and sacrifice of at least two of the girls. 13 year old Marian Fisher in an apparent attempt to save the other girls requested that Roberts shoot her first. He did, and she died from the gunshot. Marian's younger sister, Barbie, then requested that she be shot next. She lived. Read here.

Mark Overstreet first pointed out these stories, you can find his posts here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Workings of a Sovereign God

"I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, (Philippians 1:12)"

God often works in ways we would not normally choose. God also moves in ways which might seem at first to be contrary to his major goals. For example, I am sure Paul would rather not have been in prison for a number of years, both in Caesarea and Rome. Paul's imprisonment also would seem to be an impediment to the cause of the gospel for Paul was a major force in the spread of Christianity during the Apostolic Era.

Yet, God's word reveals to us that Paul's imprisonment was instrumental for the advance of the gospel. The chains which Paul was bound brought Paul together with Roman Imperial Guards. As a result of this necessary condition, the gospel spread throughout the Imperial Guard. And not only this, but Paul's imprisonment emboldened the Christians in Rome to preach the gospel without fear.

Furthermore, when Jesus called Paul to himself, he commissioned him to preach to the Jews, the Gentiles, and kings (Acts 9:15). It was during his imprisonment that the Apostle heralded the gospel to kings.

Our limited vision inhibits us from seeing the larger workings of God. And while it sometimes appears that God is absent or not working all things for good to those who love him, we must trust that he is. We must walk not by sight, but by faith.

One of my favorite stories of God's providence is the story of John Bunyan's imprisonment. Bunyan was jailed for illegally preaching the gospel. He could have left the prison at any time had he agreed not to preach the gospel. He refused to quit. He preached in the prison to the extent, people were coming to here him while he would preach from the prison courtyard (both prisoners and freemen). Eventually he was banished a central location where his contact was limited. It was here that God desired to take Bunyan, as he wrote the gospel in an allegorical story which we know as The Pilgrim's Progress. Through this writing, Bunyan would preach the gospel to far more people than he could have through any other method.

We should strive to see the working of a Sovereign God in our own lives even in times of discomfort and trial. This is the hope we have as Christians. God is working at the same time to bring glory to his name and for the good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Nature of Deception

Here are two quotes concerning the deceptive nature of wickedness. One is modern. One is ancient.

"Wolves don’t come with business cards that say 'Wolf.' They dress up like sheep, talk like sheep, and are published by sheep publishers."
Mark Dever

"Error never shows itself in its naked reality, in order not to be discovered. On the contrary, it dresses elegantly, so that the unwary may be led to believe that it is more truthful than truth itself."
Irenaeus of Lyons

Friday, September 29, 2006

Desiring God 2006 National Conference

The Desiring God 2006 National Conference officially began tonight. The theme for the conference is: Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of God in a Postmodern World. Usually, everything John Piper does gets put up on his website for free, so I would check back from time to time in order to listen to the various sessions. Here is a list of speakers and their topics for the conference:

David Wells
, Professor of Historical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, will speak on "The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World."

Don Carson, Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, will speak on "The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World."

Tim Keller, Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, will address "The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World.”

Mark Driscoll, the Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, will aim at the topic “The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World.”

Voddie Baucham, the founder and leader of Voddie Baucham Ministries in Texas, will tackle the theme “The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World.”

John Piper, Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, will speak on “The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World.”

Should be fantastic. Check it out. Order it if you have to.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Local Church Membership

Mike Mckinley, pastor of Guilford Baptist Church in Sterling, VA and writer for 9Marks ministries, writes a helpful article on whether the the Bible really teaches Church Membership as it is often practiced today.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pastor Conferences

I have been a pastor now for just over two years. I recently found out how refreshing a good Pastor's Conference can be. This past April, I attended the inaugural Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, KY, and came away thoroughly strengthened to come back and pastor at Little River.

Brent and Seth, I am interested to know if there are any Pastor's Conferences which you would recommend. I am familiar with a few like the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am also aware of the Shepherd's Conference in Sun Valley, California. The main issue with these three conferences is the great distance and cost to get to them.

The Together for the Gospel Conference was not too difficult to drive, but this conference only occurs every two years. I am planning on going this next year to a Weekender at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington D.C. This conference allows a pastor and possibly some key leaders from your church to see the workings of a very healthy church. You can see a more detailed description above by clicking on "Weekender."

Brent and Seth, are you planning on attending any of these types of events this coming year? If so, let me know. Seth, I know you might not, given how busy you are. Brent, I know it is a little early to be thinking about these things, however, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Pope and Islam

The Pope recently started a whirlwind of turmoil, when he was giving an academic address and quoted Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus. The Byzantine emperor said concerning the prophet Mohammed, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The Catholic Church response has been that Muslims have misunderstood the Pope. The Pope said the quote was not his view about the Islamic faith or Mohammed.

Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has an informative article about the Pope's comments, and the Roman Catholic's view of Islam. What is more surprising than the Pope's comments is the inclusivistic view Rome has of Islam. Here is a link to Dr. Mohler's article. Dr. Mohler also dedicated one entire episode of his daily radio show to the issue as well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Knowing your Members...

I just recently finished preaching through the Gospel of Mark. As most of you are aware, Mark oftentimes created what are called by scholars, "Markan Sandwiches," where he would begin one story/event and would interweave another story before he would bring the first one to its ending. For example, in Mark 6:7-13, Mark begins a story about Jesus sending out his apostles for the purpose of kingdom ministry, but vv 14-29 address the death of John the Baptist. Then in verse 30, Mark picks up the apostles returning to Jesus to report what occurred.

I was trying to give an analogy to this literary device by comparing it to the FOX television show 24, when it went to commercial. For those who have never seen it, as the show breaks for commercial, we get to view what is going on in multiple situations, and that is what Mark does when he uses the "sandwich." He tells us about two events occurring generally at the same time.

I do not know why I asked the congregation that morning this question, but after I had given the analogy, I asked how many members had ever seen 24, AND NO ONE RAISED THEIR HAND. It was rather funny, but it did teach me to be more thoughtful in using analogies which my congregation will be familiar with.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Special Wednesday Night Service

Tonight, Little River BC cancelled its own services in order that we may travel up to Spartanburg, SC where 89 Southern Baptist families are being commissioned as International Missionaries. No doubt, this will be one of the most special worship services I have ever attended.

The services begin at 6:30 PM at First Baptist Church, North Spartanburg. Use this post as a reminder to pray for our missionaries who are serving the Lord around the world. I am reminded now of a question asked by Dr. Tom Nettles, who teaches at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, when he said to a Baptist History class. He asked us, "What could be more exciting than going to another country obeying the Lord's Great Commission and founding a Christian Church where one never existed among a people who have never heard the gospel?"

This is exactly what many of the missionaries who will be appointed tonight will be laboring to achieve for the duration of their earthly lives. Let us pray for them.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Shiloh Visit

Last Sunday I preached a trial sermon for Shiloh Baptist church in Seymour, TN. Immediately after I preached, the congregation voted unanimously to call me as their pastor. It was a great weekend and a very exciting time for me and my family. My last Sunday here at West End will be September 24th. We will move the following week and begin our ministry at Shiloh on October the 1st.
We are not as fortunate as some to have a palacial mansion for a parsonage, but we were able to locate a nice home to rent for a while until we are able to decide where and what we might want to purchase. We are excited about moving into a little larger house, seeing that the one we are in now is a just a little bigger than a Volkswagen.
I have decided what I will be preaching through first. I am going to begin with 1 John on Sunday mornings, The Sermon on the Mount on Sunday Night, and Selected Psalms on Wednesdays. I have recently taught through 1 John on Wednesday's with my youth and love the practicality of John's epistle. I have preached a couple of times on a few text's from the Sermon on the Mount, but I have never preached from the Psalms.
I am currently determining my goals for this first year at Shiloh. 1st goal of all is to learn the names, this seems kind of like a daunting task. Next, I would like to go through the church role and meet all the families, whether they attend or not. Third, I would like to establish a church covenant that expresses a biblical view of church membership in it. In the future (2-3 years down the road) we would require everyone that wishes to remain a member of Shiloh Baptist to sign the covenant. Please note, I realize this must be done carefully and with great gentleness, but nonetheless, I believe it is essential to ever have integrity in reporting church membership. These things among 100's of other ideas are floating through my head. I look forward to seeing exactly what you guys think and what you suggest.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Schooling Choices

As a parent of two small children, there is a fast approaching decision my wife and I must make concerning our children. How are we going to educate them? Are we going to enroll them in a public school, a religious private school, or should we home school them? These questions bring us both much anxiety.

I know we are not alone, many Christian parents are choosing alternative educational choices for their children. The public schools of our grandparents and parents no longer exist. And many young Christian parents who experienced public schooling and survived are now reflecting whether or not to send their own children into these same schools.

The Boston Herald has an interesting article on this issue. You can find it here.

HT: Mark Overstreet

Monday, September 04, 2006


One of the images in Scripture used to describe a believer's status in Christ is adoption (Ephesians 1:5). In Christ we are reckoned sons of God (Galatians 4:5). And as sons, we inherit a new found intimacy with God illustrated by the fact that we can and should address him as Father (Romans 8:15).

One of the most pro-life and Christian actions a disciple of Christ can do is adopt. Few human actions can mirror so closely what God has done for believers in Christ than adoption. As God makes us his sons, we too can give a son (or daughter) our own name and fill his life with an abundance of blessing and joy.

This article by Russell Moore is a moving testimony about his own adoption of two sons. I know it will stir your heart, and I hope it might lead you to give serious thought to adopting a child of your own.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration

This is one of the finest expositions on the gospel that I have read. I read it previously, years ago, but came across it once again reading through Getting the Gospel Right by R.C. Sproul, and was captured by how well written this statement is. You can find and read the statement here.

I am thinking about introducing this statement into the confession of faith at the church which I pastor.

An interesting note:
Robert Gundry wrote an article reasoning why he would not sign The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration. He argued that the doctrine of Christ's righteousness being imputed to believing sinners needs to be abandoned. This challenge and a few other reasons led to the birth of the book Counted Righteous in Christ by Dr. John Piper.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Regenerate Church Membership

Dr. Mark Dever, pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, has contributed his thoughts concerning the failed resolution at the Southern Baptist Convention pertaining to regenerate church membership. The failed resolution encouraged Southern Baptist Churches to exercise integrity in maintaining accurate and responsible membership rolls.

One member from the resolution committee suggested that churches should not remove members from our rolls because these particular inactive members are prospects for the church.

Members should not be prospects. Members by definition are active, but Southern Baptists, by in large, are presently unwilling to remove these members from their rolls.

I think we should all work towards maintaining accurate and honest membership rolls.

Giving an Account

Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."

This highlighted portion of verse 17 should always be on the mind of the faithful pastor. Here is one question I find myself asking lately that is related to this truth: In order to give an account of those I shepherd to God, do I not have to know them?

This question is easy for me to answer. I believe I do have to know the flock which I shepherd. I believe I have to know their names. I believe I must have interaction with them.

Logically, I have come to the conclusion that churches can become to large. Churches can grow so much numerically that it really becomes an impossibility for a pastor/pastors to faithfully shepherd.

With many churches growing by adding satellite churches where the preaching pastor is electronically present, are they moving away from fidelity to Hebrews 13:17? Can a pastoral staff faithfully intercede personally for a congregation of 20,000 members?

As a pastor of a small rural church, I have not had to deal with this issue, but we all should be thinking and preparing for church plants.

Monday, August 14, 2006

What are you reading?

Seth and Brent,
What books/articles/sermons have you recently completed? What are you currently reading/listening to? And what are some future readings on the horizon for you?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Let's Talk Preaching

I spend a lot of time praying and thinking about what books I will preach through first if Shiloh calls me as their pastor. I would really like to nail this down over the next few weeks and be outlining messages and laying out a preaching calendar if at all possible. There is a Sunday morning and evening service and a Wednesday night prayer and bible study service at the church. Maybe all the experienced pastors who view this blog everyday can share some wisdom with me and comment on what books they would preach through first on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. Thanks for your help.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Grace Greater than All Our Sin

Both my Sunday morning and evening texts illustrate the depravity of mankind at its worse.
This morning we examined the denial of Jesus by Peter found in Mark 14. Peter confidently boasted to Jesus, though all the other disciples fall away, he would not. Peter said he would not deny Jesus, and that he would even die with him. Sadly, this disciple who had walked along with Jesus throughout his ministry, and had been witness to many great miracles, denied even knowing Jesus three times in one night.

This evening we began by surveying David's affairs with Bathsheba and Uriah in 2 Samuel 11-12. David breaks the last five commandments during this affair:
1. He orders Uriah's murder
2. He commits adultery with Uriah's wife, Bathsheba.
3. He steals Uriah's wife.
4. He bears false witness by attempting to coax Uriah into having sexual relations with his wife in order to cover up Bathsheba's pregnancy.
5. He covets another man's wife.

Remarkably, both these men are forgiven of their sins. And both of these men are restored by God. Peter's restoration is found in John 21:15-19. David's sins are forgiven, as noted in the Samuel narrative. His reflection and confessions of this affair are found in Psalm 51.

It is truly amazing that God would forgive Peter, David, you and me of our sins. It is truly amazing that God would restore us and reconcile us to himself. But this is in fact what God does through the death and resurrection of his Son. And the Holy Spirit which David pleaded for God not to take away, is sent to unbelievers to create in us clean hearts.

The great hymn writers do not fail us here. In fact they so often put into words what the Scripture reveals. Julia H. Johnston writes,

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
What can avail to wash it away?
Look, there is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today.

Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Grace Greater than Our Sin, The Baptist Hymnal, p 329.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My Girls #5

Why do kids want to go up the slide the wrong way?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My Girls #4

Did I tell you Lydia was into princess items (look at the picture on the fridge).

My Girls #3

The girls take a break from wrestling to pose for this picture.

My Girls #2

This is Chloe, as you might can tell, she is a little mischievious.

My Girls #1

Lydia is into princess decor at the present time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Definition of Sin

What is sin?

The glory of God not honored.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savored.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.

This statement was taken from a sermon by John Piper in Romans 7, titled "The Greatest Thing in the World."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament

This past Sunday I preached from Mark 14:32-42 (morning) and Psalm 3 (evening). It was remarkable, to me at least, how similar the context and prayer of David are with Jesus' episode in the Garden and his further Passion. These are some of the thoughts that ran across my mind as I progressed through each verse:

Psalm 3:1, "O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;"
--Judas has already put into action the plans for betrayal.
--Judas quickly arrives with a "crowd" who are armed and are seeking to take custody of Jesus.
--Many gave false testimony against Jesus (Mark 14:56)
--The crowd of Jews wanted Barabbas rather than Jesus released (Mark 15)

Psalm 3:2, "many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God."
--Matthew 27:43 records the chief priests, scribes, and elders mocking Jesus saying, "He trusts in God, let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, I am the Son of God."

Psalm 3:3, "But you, O LORD are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head."
--See John 8:54

Psalm 3:4, "I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill."
--As David cried to Yahweh, Jesus likewise cried out to Abba Father. And just as God answered David's prayer, Jesus' prayer was answered as well.

Psalm 3:5-6, "I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around."
--The fact that David's prayer was answered is found in verse 5. Though thousands were seeking to take his life, he was able to sleep, and his fear was alleviated. Jesus' prayer is answered as well. The Father willed for Jesus to go to the cross, and Jesus was obedient. And though Jesus was sorrowful, even to death, he was strengthened through prayer for his mission.

Psalm 3:7, "Arise O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked."
--David calls on Yahweh to be the deliverer and judge.
--Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Psalm 3:8, "Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people."
--The very thing which Jesus was accomplishing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Neglect of the Trinity?

The Trinity is one of the most distinguishing doctrines Christianity possesses. It sets us apart from every other religion, and it especially differentiates us from Islam and Judaism. So my question is: Do we neglect this great doctrine in our churches?

Nobody would argue that we emphasize what Christ has accomplished:

The Son of God redeems us from the curse of the law and becomes a curse for us (Gal 3:13).
The Son of God absorbs the wrath of God for those who believe by faith (Rom 5:9; 1 John 4:10).
The Son of God is our ransom (Mark 10:45).
The Son of God is our righteousness (2 Cor 5:21).
The Son of God provides forgiveness for our sins (Eph 1:7).

We could go on, but I think you get the point. I might add, pastors rightly emphasize these blessings in Christ, however our salvation is brought about by our Trinitarian God. How often do we preach on:

How the Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4)?
How the Father predestined us to adoption through Christ (Eph 1:5)?
How the Father draws us to Christ (John 6:44)?

How often do we preach on the Holy Spirit's work in Regeneration and Sanctification?

A recovery of the entire gospel will do our churches well. This also will help the church to understand why the Bible talks about salvation in past, present, and future tenses.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Edom and Judas

In Obadiah, God forecasted his judgment by way of prophetic oracle upon the nation of Edom. Edom was guilty of many sins. Edom was full of pride. Instead of depending upon God, Edom trusted in its alliances with other nations. One particular accusation against Edom made by Obadiah is Edom's violence against its kinsmen. Edom is guilty of violence against the Israelites.

Obadiah 10, "Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever."

The Edomites were the descendants of Esau the elder twin and brother to Jacob. When Judah was judged by God for her own disobedience by way of the Babylonians, Edom capitalized upon Judah's defeat. Edom did not help Judah. In fact, Edom was complicit in its defeat (v6, v11). Edom gloated over Judah's downfall (v13). Edom even captured those who managed to escape from the initial attack (v14).

The potency of God's anger is seen in his words of condemnation for Edom in verse 18, "...they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken," and in verse 10, " shall be cut off forever."

I have reflected upon this righteous anger towards Edom, which was fulfilled for the Lord says in Malachi 1:3, "Esau have I hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert." In my reflection, my Sunday morning text came to mind, which is Mark 14:12-26. If God's anger toward Edom is severe for its treatment of its kinsmen, then imagine God's anger towards the man who betrays his beloved Son leading to his death. There should be no wonder why there are comments like that found verse 21, "...but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Alcohol question continues...

Baptist Press has published another editorial on alcohol consumption. This time the article is authored by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President, Paige Patterson. You can find his editorial arguing for complete abstinence here. In keeping with a past post, here is a link to some posts critiquing Patterson's article. Read both and see what you think.

(HT) Tom Ascol

Monday, July 10, 2006

A word of caution to readers

Any posts that I (Jason) place on this blog are my views alone. They are not Seth's views. They are not Brent's views. Seth's posts are his own. Brent's posts are his own. Both Seth and Brent are more than adequate to articulate their own positions with regards to Christian theology and practice (and for any other matter).

Also, to any readers, please do not lump me with any movement of thought or group of people. My thoughts are my own. Please do not try to associate me with other individuals for I am only one man. And please do not try to understand my complete theology based on one common view I have with another brother or sister in Christ.

I seek to be informed by Scripture, and I try to read widely from many different theological perspectives from individuals whom I think do the same thing. So while I desire the fortitude and passion of Martin Luther in his bold stand for justification by faith alone, I do not share his views regarding communion. While I desire and admire the evangelistic zeal of John Wesley, I do not share his views of church polity. While much of what I have learned about the Old Testament is due to the influence of Daniel Block (current professor at Wheaton, formerly of the SBTS), I do not share his view on the Sabbath.

Please do not evaluate Brent by a post which I make. Please do not evaluate Seth by a post which I make. Please only evaluate me by the words I say, I think this is the biblical approach.

Romans 14:12, "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

We are praying for you Brent and Elizabeth!

Brent and Elizabeth,
I wanted to let you know that you have been in our prayers daily, and I am sure the Lord will be with you sufficiently tomorrow as you preach. I am looking forward to hearing about it, give me a call when you can.

(For those not in the know, Brent, currently a youth pastor in NC is preaching tomorrow before a pulpit committee, as he has determined the Lord would have him now shepherd a church, as a senior pastor)

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Olivet Discourse

I am currently preaching through the Gospel of Mark. Last Sunday, my text was chapter 13, which is commonly called the Olivet Discourse. I found it difficult to break down the chapter into multiple sermons so I tackled the entire text in one sermon. Further reflecting has led me to believe I could have broke the text possibly into two sermons having vv 32-37 as a stand alone, but this would entirely depend upon one's interpretation of these verses.

Anyone who has examined this text as it is written in Mark knows the great difficulties it possesses for interpretation. The question which guides the speech of Jesus concerns the destruction of the Temple Complex. Jesus says to the Disciples, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." To which the disciples respond, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?"

It is held by many that Jesus is talking about two separate events. First he is addressing the coming destruction of the Temple. In addition to this, many believe he addresses the signs preceding his 2nd coming, no doubt in part because in the Gospel of Matthew the disciples ask Jesus both questions (Matt. 23:3). Yet, when examining Mark's version, we must first seek to understand it as he has written it, not as Matthew has written the exchange.

I have settled (may change with time) on the position that Jesus' words contained in verses 5-31 are addressed with the destruction of the Temple in view, not his 2nd coming. I have uneasily settled on verses 32-37 referring to the 2nd coming of Christ Jesus, but am tempted to see these as addressing the Temple as well.

These are the difficult verses for my view found in the context of chapter 13:
1. Mark 13:10, "And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations."
2. Mark 13:19, "For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be."

For those who see most of this speech referencing the signs and events which precede the 2nd coming of Christ, the huge problem verse is Mark 13:30, which says, "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."

Needless to say, there are no easy answers for both positions. Even in Matthew's version, you still have to differentiate where Jesus is addressing the Temple and where he is addressing the 2nd return in addition to a comparable statement to Mark 13:30 (Matt 24:34).

Any comments...and does anyone know of a good sermon preached from Mark chapter 13?

The Alcohol Debate Continues

As I have stated earlier in a previous post, I was disappointed to see a resolution on complete abstinence from alcohol brought to the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention and adopted. Here are just a couple of reasons why I think it was a poor decision:

1. Southern Baptists have brought many like resolutions on alcohol before the Convention and have been adopted already by the Southern Baptists. Why do we need a new one?
2. There are many more issues which needed more time and discussion. What ends up in the press reports is the debate on alcohol consumption, when the gospel should be our focus.

Dr. Daniel Akin has continued this debate with a recent article published in Baptist Press news. It can be found here. He argues for complete abstinence when it comes to alcohol consumption. Since we are not likely to see an article from the opposite perspective published in Baptist Press, check this one out, written by Joe Thorn, Pastor, and graduate from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Thorn's article is written as a critique of Akin's.

Both articles make good points. What do you think? Is one more faithful to the Bible than the other?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Update #2

My grandmother continues to recover in the hospital. She is progressing nicely, but is both mentally and physically exhausted. We will receive the pathology results tomorrow (06/26) to learn if the cancer was confined to one area of her colon. We are praying for a good report. Brent, thank you for your prayers. How did your interview go?

Naomi and I explained to Lydia (our newly turned 3 year old daughter) that my Grandma was sick. Tonight as we prayed with her before bedtime, she said she would lead the prayer, and without any encouragement, she began by saying, God help Dadda's grandma who is sick. It was a sweet moment, which I hope to relay to my Grandmother tomorrow.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Update #1

My grandmother made it through the surgery fine. The surgeon successfully removed the tumor. They also took out a portion of her colon. He did not think any cancer has spread. My grandmother will remain in Intensive Care for 48 hours and will probably remain in the hospital a total of 8 days. Please continue to be in prayer for her.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Prayer Request

I just found out that my Grandma (Ruth) has a tumor in her colon. A surgeon told her today that he believed with almost certainty that it was cancerous. The surgery will be scheduled sometime between Wednesday-Friday. Brent and Seth, if you read this before church service tomorrow, put her on your church prayer lists. If either of you want to visit her, give me a call and I'll give you the details. My Mom and sister are going down Wednesday or Thursday.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Articles of Faith

I have been recently working on the development and adoption of a statement of faith for our church. I was not aware that we already had one, but when the church was established, Articles of Faith were adopted (in 1791). Some of our more interesting articles are as follows:

Point 12
We believe that none but regularly baptized members have the right to commune at the Lord's Table.

Many years ago the practice here was informally changed by the Pastor, but there has been no formal change. Since I became the Pastor we have practiced a form of close communion in violation of the Articles of Faith. This is evidence of the little value people today commonly place on statements of faith. Needless to say, we will shortly revise our Articles of Faith to coincide with our current practice. We do not wish to speak from both sides of our mouth.

Point 11
We believe that no minister has the right to administration of the ordinances, only such as are regularly baptized, called and come under the imposition of hands by the presbytery.

I am not even sure if I qualify to administer the ordinances under this existing article even as the Pastor. I was ordained by my home church. I was examined by elders and deacons. And the ordained men of the church placed hands on me and prayed for me during the service. But I am not sure this qualifies as "the presbytery." Needless to say, we will have to address this issue as well.

In my meetings with the pulpit committee, I was asked if I endorsed the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (which I do), so my assumption was this statement of faith was established already in the church. I will take the blame though; I should have pressed the issue since I favor the active use of Statements of Faith in the local church.

Seth and Brent, do you local churches have and use statements of faith? Which ones?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Reflections from my 1st Convention

One of the more important events at the Convention is the election of the President because of his appointment powers. Going into the Convention I was unsure whether I would cast my vote for either Frank Page or Jerry Sutton. In fact I had not made up my mind until after the nomination speeches were finished. I voted for Frank Page, and to my surprise (as well as many others) he won on the first ballot. While I have theological differences with him, in the spirit of cooperation I felt he best demonstrated in the events leading up to the convention the kind of spirit I wanted for representing the Convention. Only time will tell, but I urge Southern Baptists to pray for him, as I believe this may be a difficult and busy year for him.

I was hoping to see during this convention a spirit of cooperation around the gospel. I believe, after reading many summaries of the talk by Patterson and Mohler, there was demonstrated the basic kind of spirit needed for cooperation between parties who disagree on the intricacies of the gospel. However, it was evident to me that tension was in the air. Even when platform speakers were trying to focus us on the essentials, they spoke carelessly. One speaker spoke of Calvinism and Plurality of Elders as being distractions. One need not think long on how this would make Calvinists feel. And to say to those Southern Baptists who care passionately about how a local church should be properly ordered that debating "the elder issue" is distracting certainly disheartens many Southern Baptists.

In many ways, what this convention will be remembered by besides the Page victory will be the spirited debate on the resolution pertaining to alcohol consumption. It seems to me to be a sad day when alcohol consumption gets so much attention when so many people in our Southern Baptist churches cannot articulate the gospel. Personally, I think there are always better options for most of us to choose some other choice of beverage than one which contains alcohol, but biblically for one Christian to say to another Christian, "You must abstain," is close to legalism. There are many issues which the Convention needed to address, and alcohol consumption was not one of them.

Meanwhile, a resolution on Integrity in Church Membership was declined both by the committee and by the convention as a whole. As I pointed out on a recent post, it continues to be grievous point when we are referred to as the 16,000,000 plus Protestant denomination, when we are only this on paper. If membership meant anything besides some card we sign, then our membership would be more accurately reported somewhere around 6,000,000.

Definite high points of the trip were spending time with family and friends. I spent around three hours with my Grandmother, aunt and two cousins. I stayed with Seth and his wife for two nights (thanks again). I enjoyed watching Brent play golf. And one of the highs had to be the time spent talking theology with pastors.

One of the major issues to be addressed was recent IMB developments. However, not much came of it; accept that it will be referred back to the IMB trustees for study. Hopefully when we gather in San Antonio next year, the Baptism policy will be rescinded or revised.

Brent and Seth, what say you?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Off to Greensboro

Well, really I will be heading through Greensboro Sunday afternoon on my way to Raleigh to visit with my fellow (non)-bloggers Seth and Brent. Instead of heading over to the breakout sessions of the Pastor's conference (which can be purchased later) we will be spending some time together. In addition to this, I'll visit with some of my family from that area. Early Tuesday morning we will drive up to Greensboro for the Southern Baptist Convention.

My mom grew up Southern Baptist, she even worked at Southeastern Seminary for a short season. My father grew up Methodist, so I spent time in both a Southern Baptist and Methodist church growing up. Eventually, as a teenager I repented of my sins and received Christ through faith for the forgiveness of my sins. After my conversion, I joined Towering Oaks Baptist Church. My family did also join around this time as well.

As a teenager, I was not really interested in the SBC. When I was in seminary, I did not have the money or time to attend, so this will be my first annual convention. If I am not mistaken this will also be the first convention for Seth as well. I have read as many as 15,000-20,000 messengers may attend this year, which would far exceed the previous years' attendance. Personally I hope to see the new IMB policies addressed, especially regarding Baptism. As it stands, if any potential missionary desires to be sent through the International Mission Board (the primary international missionary agency of Southern Baptist Churches), and was baptized in a church which did not endorse the doctrine of eternal security, they will be disqualified unless they are willing to be re-baptized (I know there is no such thing) in a church which does endorse the eternal security of the believer.

I would estimate a significant number of present day Southern Baptists were baptized in Free Will Baptist Churches or other churches where the doctrine of eternal security is not endorsed. Many of these members now believe in the doctrine of eternal security (I call this doctrine, The Perseverance of the Saints) and would endorse the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, but would still be disqualified from serving as a missionary from the very agency they likely support through the Cooperative Program.

I hope to see this addressed somehow. I will post on the convention when I return later next week.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Final Words

I have almost completed Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography by Iain H. Murray. I think these parting words of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards are warming to the heart. They also serve as a reminder as to the real importance of one's family on the measuring of one's legacy.

Edwards received an innoculation against smallpox, and developed the virus. He knew he was dying and gave these parting words for his wife (who was not present) to one of his daughters, "Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God, that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as I trust is spiritual, and therefore will continue for ever. And I hope she will be supported under so great a trial and submit cheerfully to the will of God. And as to my children, you are now like to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all, to seek a Father who will never fail you (p 441)."

Upon receiving the news of her husband's death, Sarah Edwards writes to Esther (another daughter), "What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be (p 442)."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Family Issues

"In November 2005, the Internet strategies department of LifeWay, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, began soliciting participation in an online research project, the 'Top 10 Issues Facing Today’s Family.'" In order the top 10 issues facing American families found in the study are:

1. Anti-Christian culture
2. Divorce
3. Busyness
4. Absent father figure
5. Lack of discipline
6. Financial pressures
7. Lack of communication
8. Negative media influences
9. Balance of work and family
10. Materialism

I will only address what I think are three major problems for families in America. One can debate whether these are the top three, although I think we would all agree as Christians that point one is the major problem for non-Christian families.

1. No saving knowledge of Jesus Christ
In my estimation the #1 problem facing American families is the #1 issue facing the human race. It is the total depravity of the person. By in large American families are not Christian families. Therefore, the needed sanctification of the Holy Spirit to overcome sinful temptations is not present with the overwhelming number of families. So the remaining problems facing American families all stem from their lack of forgiveness in Jesus Christ and indwelling Holy Spirit who conforms our desires to God's and not to the desires of the flesh.

2. Individualism
Satan told Adam and Eve that if they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would become like God. Ever since this episode of disobedience, commonly called 'the fall,' men, women, and children have desired to be like God. This desire expresses itself negatively in our rabid pursuit of individualism. Many of the original issues which are listed in this article really come from the desire to fulfill self at all costs.

Divorce is the result of one or both spouses desiring to be fulfilled first rather than seeking first to please each other.

The absent father syndrome is often the product of self-centeredness. The male figure desires the pleasures of sex, but when a baby comes into the picture, he knows this will severely limit the time he has for himself, so he leaves.

Lack of discipline can also be caused by a preoccupation with oneself. Discipline is hard and it takes oversight, repetition, and time. So many parents pass over discipline altogether after a few attempts.

Financial pressures may be the result of individualism when a family has all it needs yet one or both spouses choose to work longer at the expense of the family to get more, which relates this issue with materialism.

Lack of communication often is the result of individualism because we only want to talk after all our other desires have been satisfied.

A balance between work and family can also be an issue related to self-interests when one or both spouses choose to spend time on their hobbies rather than being with their families.

3. Biblical Ignorance
This category is more for Christian families, but we can all see this issue effecting non-Christians as well. Biblical ignorance can be the result of many things. It is always, for the Christian, an issue of priority. Christians often task their lives so that personal Bible reading and reflection are activities which only occur if everything else is finished, when it really should be a "first priority' of the day along with prayer. I am not saying it has to be accomplished first thing in the morning, because if you do it at night, what you have reflected over should be with you in the morning and will be helpful.

All of the "Top 10" issues will influence us more dramatically if our knowledge of Scripture is minimal. And our lust after materialistic things and the pursuit of self-fulfillment through individualism come because we wrongly think they can satisfy, but only the work of the Triune God can fulfill completely the yearnings of the soul.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Church Membership Rolls

An article published by Baptist Press illustrates the problem Southern Baptist Churches have when it comes to the accuracy of church membership rolls. Many churches have memberships which greatly exceed average attendance for the primary worship gathering. Many churches have members on their rolls who have not attended the church at which they are members for years. What does this say about church membership? What does this say about the integrity of the SBC when it reports that it has 16 million plus members? Unfortunately, it says that in many churches, an individual can can join a church one Sunday, and never return for the rest of his life, yet be considered a member.

Currently, I am having to deal with this issue in the church I pastor. Brent, you will probably face this situation in the near future as a Senior Pastor, and Seth you may have the opportunity from both the classroom and perhaps serving in a local church to address this issue. What basic steps would you guys take to correct this problem, and how slowly should a new pastor take on this problem?

Recently, a resolution was sent to the resolution committee of the Southern Baptist Convention regarding this very issue. It can be found here. Do you think this is a good start from a convention standpoint?

Thursday, May 25, 2006


This blog will be the product of three men who grew up together and have all given their lives to Christian ministry. As the title hints, two of us are current pastors and one is currently working towards a Ph.D. and works for a seminary. Our topics for discussion will be wide ranging, and our examination and reflection upon the topics will be discussed from a Christian perspective. We are hoping this endeavor will help each of us to stay up-to-date on certain happenings, but we also hope to edify and sharpen one another through Christian reflection and discernment.