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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.