Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Convention Moments: Worst Personal Moment

Unfortunately, times of reflection bring up the bad as well as the good. As I reflect on our time at the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting, there is one moment that I regret.

As my wife and I walked from the parking lot into the Expo Center on Tuesday morning, we were confronted by a man on the sidewalk who was handing out fliers. That is not an unusual occurrence during the convention, so I took a copy of what he was distributing. As a reader, if something has words on it, I immediately start reading. That can be a hazardous habit—especially when walking or driving. As I successfully avoided running into things while I walked and skimmed, I realized the nature of the document I was reading. It was a slanderous diatribe by a group called the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association directed at Mark Driscoll. I am very familiar with Driscoll’s ministry, his theology, and his past penchant for the use of shocking (sometimes immoral) language. I agree with one of his mentors, John Piper, that such language is wrong and entirely out of place in pastoral ministry. I also understand that, when confronted by men like Piper, Driscoll has repented of using such language. Of course, none of that was pointed out in the paper that was handed to me. Instead, much of the language for which he has since repented was published as if Driscoll is continually saying it to this day. Additionally, Driscoll and his past behavior were linked to Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dr. Ed Stetzer, Director of LifeWay Research. The paper sought to drag these fine men’s names through the mudhole of Driscoll’s past sins that it created. Knowing the backstory, I was able to see the theme of the paper while skimming and walking into the Expo Center. Before we reached the convention hall, I had successfully deposited it where it belonged—the trash can.

But then came the regretful moment. No sooner had we reached our seats than my wife remembered that she had left her sweater in the car. As I walked out to get it for her, I told myself to avoid the man with the papers. I did not want to engage him because I know me—and James 3:8-9 was rolling around in my head. I tried to avoid him. But he practically ran up to me to insure I had one of his destructive papers. I told him that I had already received one and did not need another (whew, passed that test… but not for long). He immediately replied, “Well, what did you think?” Regretfully, I told him—and not in a constructively exhortatory manner. Fortunately, conviction grabbed me before I could respond to his implication that I must be a pervert for “supporting” the “perverted” Mark Driscoll. Thank God for restraint in the midst of regret.

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Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

2 Corinthians 4:16

Perfect Holiness

We are renewed day by day by making progress in our righteousness and true holiness through the knowledge of God. For those who do so transfer their love from temporal things to eternal things, from visible things to invisible things, from fleshly thing to spiritual things.

They do this in proportion to their help from God. For God said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” When the last day of life finds them holding on tightly to their faith in the Mediator through such progress and growth, they will be welcomed by the holy angels. They will be led to God, whom they have worshipped, and will be perfected by Him. As a result, they will receive and immortal body at the end of the world.

They won’t be led to punishment, but to glory. For our likeness of God will be perfected into His image when our sight of God is perfected. The Apostle Paul speaks of this. He says, “Now we see through a glass, in an enigma, but then face to face.” And also: “But we with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.” This is what happens from day to day in those who make good progress.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Convention Moments: Best Personal Moment

After a few days to reflect on the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting, in addition to all the great messages, informative reports and important business, certain key moments have come to mind. I will share those over the next few days.

Despite the fact that the week’s schedule was extremely full and we tried to attend everything on the docket, there were some times of escape. Between two very active teenagers at home and one in college, homeschooling and the pastorate, sometimes several days go by where it seems that my wife and I just pass in the driveway. Instead of two ships passing in the night, we are more often like two vehicles passing on the highway.

During the convention, other than the Pastor’s Wives Conference, we spent the whole time together. It was wonderful. Probably only pastors know how much corporately worshipping God while holding your wife’s hand is a rare thing to be treasured. Another thing to be treasured is finding an out-of-the-way Thai restaurant in which to share a quiet dinner together. During the convention, we were able to savor both.

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Back on Track!

After a month off, my theological blog called Deep Riches is back on track! Over the next few Mondays, I will be posting a brief series of simple polemics arguing for the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, infallable Word of God. Check it out over on Deep Riches. You can also access it from the sidebar to the right of this posting.

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Arguing for the Bible as the Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible Word of God

There are three primary lines of argument I use to support the fact the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. The nature of the Bible itself, the miraculous collection and preservation of the books, and the character and nature of God provide ample apologetic evidence for the seeker. Over the next few weeks, I will post on each of those arguments.

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Martyrs Monday

Romans 15:19

Sabina Wurmbrand reached over and pinched her husband’s arm. “Richard,” she said fiercely, “stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ. They are spitting on his face!”

“If I do so,” Richard Wurmbrand answered, looking intently at his wife, “you will lose your husband.”

Her eyes bore into his. “I don’t want a coward for a husband.”

They sat in a Romanian national congress on religion shortly after Communist soldiers had stormed their country. The assembled Christian pastors, priests, and ministers of all denominations stood, one by one, and spouted praise to Joseph Stalin and to the new Communist leadership, who had put thousands of Christians in prison.

As Richard stood to speak, many were thrilled to see that this well-known pastor would join their cause. But instead of praising the Communists, he praised Jesus Christ as the only path to salvation. “Our first loyalty,” he told the gathering, “should be to God, not to Communist leaders.” The gathering was broadcast live across Romania, and thousands across the country heard Richard’s challenge.

Realizing the damage Richard was doing, Communist officials rushed the stage. Richard escaped out the back door but was a hunted man from then on. He would later spend fourteen years in prison.

Most of us will probably never be challenged to make our stand for Christ in front of an entire nation. But we are all called to make a stand for him wherever we are each day. It is not the size of the witnessing audience but the sincerity of our stand that matters. Our lives may not depend on what we say. But our jobs may depend on our decision to voice our convictions. It may mean losing a relationship. It may even mean estrangement from our families. In any case, it is far better to endure the consequences of our convictions than to regret their noticeable absence. When and where will you seize the opportunity to take a stand for Christ today?

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Convention Lowlight

Yesterday I began with the good. Today I must reflect on the bad and the ugly.

Let me start by saying that I have a tremendous respect for Dr. Morris Chapman. He currently serves as the President of the SBC Executive Committee. Some would say that his is the most powerful position in our convention—if not a close second to the elected President. Dr. Chapman is one of the men responsible for the Conservative Resurgence. Along with men like Adrian Rogers and Paige Patterson, he stood strong in the face of opposition and steered this denomination back from the brink of theological liberalism. In doing so, they accomplished something that no other denomination has ever accomplished. Some have been able to stem the tide of liberalism for a season. But none have ever moved a denomination back to theological conservatism. While we were pleased at this year’s Annual Meeting to recognize the sesquicentennial of Southern Seminary, I agree with Dr. Mohler that the greater anniversary we should celebrate is the 30th anniversary of the Conservative Resurgence. I praise God for Dr. Chapman’s role in that.

With that being said, I have been disappointed in Dr. Chapman’s vocal opposition to the Great Commission Resurgence. In fairness to him, of course he is not opposed to the Great Commission. Neither is he opposed to many of the axioms of the document penned by Dr. Danny Akin. But he has expressed loud opposition to Axiom IX. He was vehemently opposed to allowing Dr. Johnny Hunt to appoint a committee to look across the SBC to see if we can do things more efficiently and effectively. That opposition disappointed me—but not as much as the presidential report he presented to the convention on Tuesday.

Rather than being a report, it was a diatribe. He lashed out against “every ecclesiastic fad that promises innovation at the expense of confessional fidelity, against every subtle temptation toward uncooperative narrowness and unorthodox ecumenism.” Those things seem worthy of standing against—until he elucidated.

Dr. Chapman used the “fad” point as an excuse to attack Mark Driscoll. Granted, he didn’t attack him by name, but he did mention Driscoll’s reputation for using “crude themes” and “vulgar language.” While I do not advocate the language Driscoll has used in the past (for which he has since publicly repented), I do admire his theological steadfastness and evangelical success in the godless and pagan community in which he pastors. I don’t know of many Southern Baptist pastors who could reach the people that God is reaching through Driscoll. Also, his Acts 29 Network is empowering hundreds of young pastors to pursue their calling to plant churches—without discouraging and deflating them with the seemingly endless bureaucracy of the North American Mission Board. NAMB can learn a lot from Acts 29.

It was “faddish” at this year’s meeting to rail against Driscoll, but Dr. Chapman’s next point was most offensive. His point of “subtle temptation toward uncooperative narrowness” was obviously aimed at the rising number of professing Calvinists in our denomination. I have written about my personal “labels” before, so I don’t need to go into that again. Suffice it to say that I am Calvinistic (if that’s even a word), but not a Calvinist. According to my understanding of Scripture, the atoning sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for all. My 5-point Calvinist brothers and sisters do not agree with me. That’s fine. They are not Hyper-Calvinists and I am not an Arminian. Furthermore, I have never met a Calvinist—even the staunchest Supralapsarian 5-pointer—who would say that “divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation without a faith response on the part of man.” True Calvinism affirms the necessity of a faith response. Their whole understanding of man’s role in salvation is couched in terms of his responsibility. They simply believe (biblically, I might add), that man’s faith response is generated by a work of the Holy Spirit. By implication and by verbal accusation, Dr. Chapman pronounced that those who hold to “Doctrines of Grace” (a favorite term of the Calvinists), are more interested in their theological systems than they are in evangelism. That is a blatantly false and slanderous accusation.

As I have said, I have a deep respect for Dr. Chapman because of his role in the Conservative Resurgence. The Conservative Resurgence that he helped to lead has given the Southern Baptist Convention the foundation we need to cooperatively pursue the Great Commission. It has also driven us back to the Bible for our theology. As we seek to understand the tensions in Scripture between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, we will all fall short of completely understanding the mind of God. That is a good thing. That should force us to interact with those who disagree with us and drive us all back to the Bible for further understanding. Our theological disagreements on secondary and tertiary issues should not lead us to misrepresent one another by painting verbal caricatures. It should instead lead us to interaction and dialogue and further cooperation. After all, isn’t cooperation in accomplishing the Great Commission what we’re supposed to be about?

More to come….

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Slacker No More... At Least for Today

After being a slacker for several weeks, I have finally updated the book widgets in the sidebar. For the first time in a while, “What I’m Reading Right Now” is actually what I’m really reading right now. I’m no Oprah, but you still might want to check out my “Book-o-the-Month” recommendations.

Maybe—just maybe—I might be able to start posting reviews again soon!

Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

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Spurgeon Saturday

Exodus 8:28

This is a crafty word from the lip of the arch-tyrant Pharaoh. If the poor bondaged Israelites must needs go out of Egypt, then he bargains with them that it shall not be very far away; not too far for them to escape the terror of his arms, and the observation of his spies. After the same fashion, the world loves not the non-conformity of nonconformity, or the dissidence of dissent; it would have us be more charitable and not carry matters with too severe a hand. Death to the world, and burial with Christ, are experiences which carnal minds treat with ridicule, and hence the ordinance which sets them forth is almost universally neglected, and even condemned. Worldly wisdom recommends the path of compromise, and talks of “moderation.” According to this carnal policy, purity is admitted to be very desirable, but we are warned against being too precise; truth is of course to be followed, but error is not to be severely denounced. “Yes,” says the world, “be spiritually minded by all means, but do not deny yourself a little gay society, an occasional ball, and a Christmas visit to a theatre. What’s the good of crying down a thing when it is so fashionable, and everybody does it?” Multitudes of professors yield to this cunning advice, to their own eternal ruin. If we would follow the Lord wholly, we must go right away into the wilderness of separation, and leave the Egypt of the carnal world behind us. We must leave its maxims, its pleasures, and its religion too, and go far away to the place where the Lord calls his sanctified ones. When the town is on fire, our house cannot be too far from the flames. When the plague is abroad, a man cannot be too far from its haunts. The further from a viper the better, and the further from worldly conformity the better. To all true believers let the trumpet-call be sounded, “Come ye out from among them, be ye separate.”

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Convention Highlight

I have wrestled with whether to begin with the good, the bad or the ugly from the SBC Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting. Today is a happy day, so I think I’ll begin with the good. I’ll deal with the other things in later postings.

For me, the highlight of the convention is getting to hear from preachers with whom I am unfamiliar. This year was no exception. In an obvious attempt to appeal to younger pastors and messengers, Dr. David Platt was invited to speak. Although I had heard his name before, I was completely unfamiliar with him. At 30, he is probably the youngest mega-church senior pastor in the SBC. He has pastored the 4000+ member Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL for less than three years. He holds five degrees, including two Masters and a Doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Although those things are impressive, they aren’t what impressed me about him. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know any of those things when he first opened his mouth to preach. But then he began to preach….

Of all the speakers, preachers, reports and motions, it was during the two times that Dr. Platt spoke that I was most directed to the glory of God. Christ was exalted. God’s glory was boldly proclaimed. My heart was stirred to see the glory of God proclaimed among the nations. It wasn’t about numbers or programs or even the SBC. It was about God. It was about Jesus saving sinners, not for our sake, but for the sake of His great Name.

One thing that is very distracting to me during the convention is the constant movement on the convention center floor. People continually move in and out and mill about—even during the sermons. It makes me wonder how those pastors would react if their congregations were behaving that way during their sermons—but I digress. The two times Dr. Platt spoke were the only times I noticed when motion seemed to stop on the convention center floor. People were enthralled. But even though he is a good speaker in his technique and mannerism, he was no better than any other speaker there. So what made his sermons so captivating and convicting?

I am convinced it was two things. First, his utter dependence on God’s Word. He began his first sermon by reciting lengthy passages from the Psalms—from memory. But many of the speakers preached expositionally, so it had to be something else. Of all the speakers, no one elevated God’s glory like Dr. Platt. God saves sinners for His glory. God equips and enables missions for His glory. We exist for His glory. We live for His glory. We even die for His glory. If we as Southern Baptists can begin to grasp the fact that we exist for no other reason than to proclaim God’s glory among the nations, then we will begin to experience the Great Commission Resurgence we long for.

More to come….

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

This One Thing...

Late last night, my wife and I arrived home from the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting. We were both dragging, as the Convention capped off an exhausting couple of weeks for us. It’s good to be home.

This year’s Convention continued the recent downward trend in attendance. The last messenger count I heard was less than 9000. As Southern Baptists, we like numbers and we hate to see declines in anything. But here’s why I think fewer people at the Annual Meeting is a good thing. It means that the issues we are dealing with are not as contentious as they have been in the past. If you remember, attendance peaked during the years of the Conservative Resurgence as both sides tried to stuff the ballot box with friendly votes. Now, there is not an issue on the table that invites us to “politic” in that way. No matter what the blogosphere seems to indicate, there is simply not that much controversy in our Convention these days. That is a good thing.

That relative lack of controversy is brought on by consensus concerning what is most important—the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Holy Word. Sure, every year a KJV-only messenger will rail against modern translations—particularly the Holman Christian Standard Bible. People will continue to propose ridiculous motions. Those things will happen—but, praise God, we’re not having to battle over the nature of Scripture. And by His grace, we will continually hold steadfast to that commitment.

If that happens, we can all put up with a little bit of silliness in our midst! Over the next few days, I hope to post some of the best and worst moments of the meetings.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Edwards Wednesday

Proverbs 12:26

The Saints’ Glory

The image of God is the saints’ glory, and it may well be called glory, for imperfect as it is, it renders them glorious in the eyes of the angels of heaven. The image of God is a greater beauty in their eyes than the brightness and glory of the sun in the firmament.

Indeed the saints have no excellency, as they are in and of themselves. In them, that is, in their flesh, dwells no good thing. They are in themselves poor, guilty, vile creatures, and see themselves to be so. But they have an excellency and glory in them, because they have Christ dwelling in them. The excellency that is in them, though it be but as a spark, yet it is something ten thousand times more excellent than any ruby, or the most precious pearl that ever was found on the earth; and that because it is something divine, something of God.

This holy heavenly spark is put into the soul in conversion, and God maintains it there. All the powers of hell cannot put it out, for God will keep it alive, and it shall prevail more and more. Though it be but small, yet it is powerful; it has influence over the heart to govern it, and brings forth holy fruits in the life, and will not cease to prevail till it has consumed all the corruption that is left in the heart, and till it has turned the whole soul into a pure, holy, and heavenly flame, till the soul of man becomes like the angels, a flame of fire, and shines as the brightness of the firmament.

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

Leviticus 19:18

No Revenge

You have heard an insult, like the wind. You are angry, like a wave. When the wind blows, and the wave swells, the ship is then endangered, the heart is in jeopardy, and the heart is tossed back and forth. When you were insulted, you longed for revenge. But if you have been avenged and so rejoice in the person’s pain, you have suffered shipwreck. Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What does it mean that Christ is asleep in you? That you have forgotten Christ. Rouse Him then. Call Christ to mind and let Him wake up in you. Pay attention to Him. What do you want? Revenge. Have you forgotten that, when He was being crucified, Christ said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?” The one who was sleeping in your heart didn’t want revenge. Wake Him up then. Remember Him. Remember Him through His word, for He commands us to remember Him. Then if Christ wakes up in you, you will say, “What kind of person am I who wants revenge? Who am I to threaten other people? I might die before I am avenged, therefore I will restrain my anger and return to a calm heart.” For when Christ commanded the sea, peace was restored.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Martyrs Monday

Job 42:2

The evangelist, Andrew, stared into the gun, wondering why the man didn’t fire. The assassin grew frustrated, then frightened, and finally he fled from the room.

The phone rang, and Andrew found himself talking to the man who had come to kill him minutes earlier.

“The Muslim leaders offered me a big reward to kill you,” the would-be assassin explained. “I rode across Bangladesh to come to your office. The reward was mine. I was ready to shoot, but I couldn’t move my arm. I couldn’t pull the trigger.” The evangelist praised the Lord for protection.

Andrew found it somewhat comical. “So what can I do for you now?” he asked.

“Sir, I still can’t move my arm, and it’s because of you! Can you help me?”

Right on the phone Andrew prayed, and instantly the man regained full use of his arm. Astounded by the miracle, he returned to the evangelist’s office and began to ask questions about this “Jesus” of whom the Muslim leaders seemed to be afraid.

The evangelist patiently explained the good news of Jesus’ love, even offering tea to the man who’d come to kill him. After forty-five minutes, the man prayed to receive Jesus into his own heart. The former hit man’s ministry now is to destroy the works of the devil. To this day, he is a fellow missionary in Bangladesh.

The assassin’s would-be murder attempt was a comedy in errors. If it were a movie, the audience would have cheered aloud when the protagonist, Andrew, came onto the scene. Like any good movie hero, Andrew did not just defeat his enemy’s plans. He confounded them, even to the point of having tea with the hit-man-turned-convert. This was not going according to plan. The devil constantly has to go back to the drawing board to rethink his plans for our destruction. Andrew was not a victim of his circumstances, and neither are you. If he had been shot, his death also would have been a witness, and so will you. Unlike the devil’s schemes, God’s plans for your life cannot be thwarted.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Go West Young Man!

This morning, my wife and I are heading to Louisville to attend this year’s Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting. According to the blogosphere, I guess that means I am a rare breed—a 41-year old pastor who actually enjoys going to the Annual Meeting. The business sessions can be long, and I anticipate some contention surrounding the Great Commission Resurgence this year—but other than that, I enjoy the preaching and singing and praying. Last year’s theme of brokenness and corporate repentance was refreshing. My prayer is that the spirit from that meeting will continue to carry over into this year’s.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Boomerang Express VBS Video Wrapup

This was quite possibly one of the best Vacation Bible Schools I have ever been part of. Of course, I think I say that every year! The Lord blessed us with good numbers (159 registered), good response (3 professions of faith) and a wonderful spirit. Here's a video of some of the highlights of the week.

Now to start getting ready for our Youth VBS and rally this fall!

Don’t forget about our VBS Program and Family Fun Night this Sunday evening at 5 PM!

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Spurgeon Saturday

Amos 9:9

Every sifting comes by divine command and permission. Satan must ask leave before he can lay a finger upon Job. Nay, more, in some sense our siftings are directly the work of heaven, for the text says, “I will sift the house of Israel.” Satan, like a drudge, may hold the sieve, hoping to destroy the corn; but the overruling hand of the Master is accomplishing the purity of the grain by the very process which the enemy intended to be destructive. Precious, but much sifted corn of the Lord’s floor, be comforted by the blessed fact that the Lord directeth both flail and sieve to his own glory, and to thine eternal profit.

The Lord Jesus will surely use the fan which is in his hand, and will divide the precious from the vile. All are not Israel that are of Israel; the heap on the barn floor is not clean provender, and hence the winnowing process must be performed. In the sieve true weight alone has power. Husks and chaff being devoid of substance must fly before the wind, and only solid corn will remain.

Observe the complete safety of the Lord’s wheat; even the least grain has a promise of preservation. God himself sifts, and therefore it is stern and terrible work; he sifts them in all places, “among all nations”; he sifts them in the most effectual manner, “like as corn is sifted in a sieve”; and yet for all this, not the smallest, lightest, or most shrivelled grain, is permitted to fall to the ground. Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord, a shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweller one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of his redeemed people. However little we may be, if we are the Lord’s, we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Last Stop on the Boomerang Express!

Tonight is the last stop for the Boomerang Express at Brushfork Baptist Church. At last count, the Lord has blessed us with 154 (total) this year.

Last night, I joked with many of the workers about Thursday night being “mush brain” night. There were a few walking zombie moments, but we were still excited and enthusiastic. The kids have been wonderful this year!

If tonight holds true to form, the kids will be fewer in number—but what they lack in number, they will more than make up for in wildness! Friday night is always crazy!

We will be having our VBS program this Sunday evening. We’re planning on starting at 5 PM in the sanctuary. We will show the parents how we’ve started each evening, followed by some of our songs and a slideshow of the week’s activities.

After we’re finished in the sanctuary, teachers, parents and children will meet in the classrooms to enjoy an “open house”. Then we will cap off the evening with ice cream in our Activities Building. I’m looking forward to our people getting to talk to some of the parents we haven’t met yet.

I hope to post a video slideshow and some closing thoughts tomorrow.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Boomerang Express Rolls On

Vacation Bible School night #2 went well! I didn’t get the final tally, but at last check the totals were similar to Monday’s. The activities went off without a hitch and the children seemed to be loosening up a bit. They always seem to be more reserved at the beginning of the week, but really begin to come out of their shells around Wednesday!

It is exciting to hear the name of Jesus being (loudly) praised throughout our buildings. Even more exciting is hearing of children committing their lives to Him. Last night’s highlight was when one of our teachers spent some one-on-one time with a child. She walked him through Who Will Be King (Two Ways to Live for Kids) and he prayed and professed faith in Christ. Of course the child was overjoyed—but you should have seen the teacher! I don’t think her feet touched the ground the rest of the night!

I’m looking forward to what the Lord has in store for tonight!

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Edwards Wednesday

Luke 16:24

God’s Fiery Judgments

When sinners hear of hell torments, they sometimes think with themselves, “Well, if it shall come to that, that I must go to hell, I will bear it as well as I can,” as if by clothing themselves with resolution and firmness of mind, they would be able to support themselves in some measure; when, alas! they will have no resolution, no courage at all.

However they shall have prepared themselves, and collected their strength; yet as soon as they shall begin to feel that wrath, their hearts will melt and be as water. However before they may seem to harden their hearts, in order to prepare themselves to bear, yet the first moment they feel it, their hearts will become like wax before the furnace.

Their courage and resolution will be all gone in an instant; it will vanish away like a shadow in the twinkling of an eye. The stoutest and sturdiest will have no more courage than the feeblest infant: let a man be an infant, or a giant, it will be all one. They will not be able to keep alive any courage, any strength, any comfort, any hope at all.

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Y-E-S to V-B-S!!!

Last night was our first night of Vacation Bible School. Praise God—WE SURVIVED! Not only did we survive, the Lord blessed us with a wonderful evening. I was apprehensive about attendance due to the fact that several area churches are holding theirs at the same time as ours this year. This is also the first year we are having our Youth VBS separately, so I knew our numbers would be down.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when we had a total of over 120 (workers and children) there last night! Things went smoothly with no major glitches or safety issues. Our teachers have put in a tremendous amount of effort and their preparation was evident. Join me in praying that the Gospel will be firmly planted in the children’s lives throughout the remainder of this week.

Now I'm off to find some dry ice for the train....

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Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

1 Peter 5:8

Satan’s Tricks

We must use all our discernment when Satan acts as an angel of light. For by his trickery, he could lead us into harm’s way. But while he only deceives our physical senses, he doesn’t distort our minds. He can’t pervert the pure judgment that enables us to lead a life of faith. Therefore, our religion isn’t in danger.

If, pretending to be good, he does or says the things fitting for good angels, and we believe he is good, our error won’t hurt our Christian faith. But when he leads us onto his own path through these good things that go against his nature, we must be very careful to detect and refuse to follow him.

How many people could actually escape from all of the devil’s deadly tricks, without God restraining and watching over them? The difficulty of the matter prevents us from trusting in ourselves or in one another. It leads everyone to place their confidence in God alone. Certainly no pious person can doubt that this is very useful for us.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Martyrs Monday

Philippians 1:6

Pastor Norbu Promila was pleased with the service as he preached to the tribal people in the mountains of Bhutan. Those gathered seemed especially attentive and open to the Good News. Then in the middle of the sermon, police rushed in through every door, stormed the stage, and forcibly grabbed Norbu.

Pastor Promila was thrown in prison and tortured, and the authorities ordered him to forsake his call to preach the gospel. He received massive head injuries, and when authorities finally let him go, there was permanent damage to his body. He returned home, where his wife and children were shocked at his bruised and bloodied face. Ten days later, he died as a result of his wounds.

Pastor Promila’s congregation in this militant Hindu kingdom refused to give up his mission. Shortly after his death, they met together and called for volunteers to continue Norbu’s work among the tribal people. Five hands went up, one of which belonged to his wife. She answered God’s call to missions while also caring for her five children.

She ministered faithfully, and she and the other workers have seen many tribal people won to Christ. God provided for her needs and her childr en’s. Mrs. Promila held fast to the knowledge that one day she would see her husband again and be rewarded for her faithfulness to Christ.

What we do for the Lord is not just a job—it’s a mission. A mission is never about a single person’s responsibilities. It is singly focused on Christ and his kingdom. Therefore, someone at the helm of God’s work in a particular area may leave, but the mission itself never dies. God’s work is never left undone. It goes on forever to its completion. Those who are willing to undergo persecution for their faith teach us about the meaning of mission. They recognize that there are only two things that last for eternity—God’s work and human souls. When we are willing to invest our lives in these things, we are involved in a mission with eternal significance.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Revelation 22:17

Jesus says, “take freely.” He wants no payment or preparation. He seeks no recommendation from our virtuous emotions. If you have no good feelings, if you be but willing, you are invited; therefore come! You have no belief and no repentance,—come to him, and he will give them to you. Come just as you are, and take “Freely,” without money and without price. He gives himself to needy ones. The drinking fountains at the corners of our streets are valuable institutions; and we can hardly imagine any one so foolish as to feel for his purse, when he stands before one of them, and to cry, “I cannot drink because I have not five pounds in my pocket.” However poor the man is, there is the fountain, and just as he is he may drink of it. Thirsty passengers, as they go by, whether they are dressed in fustian or in broadcloth, do not look for any warrant for drinking; its being there is their warrant for taking its water freely. The liberality of some good friends has put the refreshing crystal there and we take it, and ask no questions. Perhaps the only persons who need go thirsty through the street where there is a drinking fountain, are the fine ladies and gentlemen who are in their carriages. They are very thirsty, but cannot think of being so vulgar as to get out to drink. It would demean them, they think, to drink at a common drinking fountain: so they ride by with parched lips. Oh, how many there are who are rich in their own good works and cannot therefore come to Christ! “I will not be saved,” they say, “in the same way as the harlot or the swearer.” What! go to heaven in the same way as a chimney sweep. Is there no pathway to glory but the path which led the thief there? I will not be saved that way. Such proud boasters must remain without the living water; but, “Whosoever will, let him TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY.”

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

VBS '09 - Boomerang Express!

I know that I have been slack in posting for the past couple of weeks. Things have been busier than usual (which is saying a lot)!

This week’s schedule is full of Vacation Bible School preparation. Every year, Vacation Bible School is one of the highlights of our church calendar. As with many churches, it is one of our biggest outreach opportunities of the year.

This year, we are using LifeWay VBS curriculum with a “down-under” Australian theme. There will be boomerangs, kangaroos, trains and koalas scattered throughout the church and activities building. It is our desire that the decorations, fun, recreation, crafts and snacks will be markers to point children to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, “It All Comes Back to Jesus.”

Our schedule is as follows:

VBS Kickoff in the church parking lot
4:30-6:30 PM, Friday, June 12

6:00-8:30 PM, June 15-19

VBS Family Program and Open House
5:00 PM, Sunday, June 21

Please post a comment or call the church at (304) 325-6735 if you have any questions.

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Edwards Wednesday

Hosea 10:12

Boldness to Persevere

In these days, men are with difficulty brought to do or submit to that which makes them the objects of the reproach of all their neighbors. Indeed if while some reproach them, others stand by them and honor them, this will support them. But it is very difficult for a man to go on in a way wherein he makes himself the laughing stock of the whole world, and wherein he can find none who do not despise him. Where is the man that can stand the shock of such a trial for twenty years?

But in such an undertaking as this, Noah at the divine direction, engaged and went through it, that he and his family might be saved from the common destruction which was shortly about to come on the world. He began, and also made an end: “According to all that God commanded him, so did he.” Length of time did not weary him: he did not grow weary of his vast expense.

He stood the shock of the derision of all his neighbors; and of all the world year after year: he did not grow weary of being their laughing stock, so as to give over his enterprise; but persevered in it till the ark was finished. After this, he was at the trouble and charge of procuring stores for the maintenance of his family, and of all the various kinds of creatures, for so long a time.

Such an undertaking he engaged in and went through in order to a temporal salvation. How great an undertaking then should men be willing to engage in and go through in order to their eternal salvation! A salvation from an eternal deluge; from being overwhelmed with the billows of God’s wrath of which Noah’s flood was but a shadow.

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

Psalm 103:2-3

Finding Forgiveness

“What shall I render unto the Lord,” that while I remember these things my soul isn’t appalled at them? I will love You, Lord, thank You, and confess my sins to Your name. You have wiped out my wicked and sinful acts. Because of Your grace and mercy, You have melted away my sin as though it were ice. Whatever evils I haven’t committed, I attribute to Your grace. For what wouldn’t I have committed, by loving sin for sin’s sake? Yes, everything that I confess You have pardoned, both those things which I did by my own perverseness, and those which I didn’t carry out because of Your guidance.

Who would dare to attribute their purity and innocence to their own strength when they consider their own weakness? Why would they love you any less, as if they had less of a need for Your merciful forgiveness given to those who turn to You? For when whoever You call obeys Your voice and despises the things I confess, don’t let them despise me. I am sick but was healed by the same Physician that healed them or rather made them better.

Because of this let them love You much more. Let them see that You have restored me from such great sin. Let them see themselves as weak and in need of help.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Martyrs Monday

Philippians 1:21

It was almost midnight as the women prisoners heard the Communist guards arrive. They quickly gathered around the condemned, a young woman of twenty who had been sentenced to die for her faith in Christ. They whispered hurried good-byes. There were no tears from the young Romanian woman, no screams for mercy.

Earlier that evening, the prisoners had listened to the young woman, her face glowing with love. “For me, this grave is the doorway to a heavenly city,” she had told them. “Who can tell the beauty of that city? There, sadness is not known. There is only joy and song. Everyone is dressed in the white of purity. We can see God face-to-face. There are such joys that human language cannot express. Why should I weep? Why should I be sad?”

She was engaged to be married, but this night, she told them, instead of being with her earthly fiancé, she would meet her heavenly bridegroom.

The pitiless guards entered the cell, and the woman stepped toward them, ready to go. As she left the cell, surrounded by guards, she began to recite the Apostles’ Creed. Minutes later, with tears streaming down their faces, the remaining prisoners heard shots. The executioners thought they had ended the young woman’s life, but they had only sent her to live forever in a much better place.

Courage is the bridge that carries us from a nominal existence on earth to an inexplicable longing for a heavenly future. Those who fully understand the certainty of heaven’s existence find it easier to exchange their comparably paltry lives on earth for eternal citizenship in heaven. Courage helps us to let go of all we cling to on earth—all the things that make us long to stay here. It takes courage to believe in a life after death. After all, life on earth is all we really know until the moment we die. We are courageous when we launch out in faith, believing Christ has made it possible for us to cross into eternity with him. Once we have made that firm decision, we can face life with purpose and death with courage.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Job 40:4

One cheering word, poor lost sinner, for thee! You think you must not come to God because you are vile. Now, there is not a saint living on earth but has been made to feel that he is vile. If Job, and Isaiah, and Paul were all obliged to say “I am vile,” oh, poor sinner, wilt thou be ashamed to join in the same confession? If divine grace does not eradicate all sin from the believer, how dost thou hope to do it thyself? and if God loves his people while they are yet vile, dost thou think thy vileness will prevent his loving thee? Believe on Jesus, thou outcast of the world’s society! Jesus calls thee, and such as thou art.

Not the righteous, not the righteous;
Sinners, Jesus came to call.
Even now say, “Thou hast died for sinners; I am a sinner, Lord Jesus, sprinkle thy blood on me;” if thou wilt confess thy sin thou shalt find pardon. If, now, with all thy heart, thou wilt say, “I am vile, wash me,” thou shalt be washed now. If the Holy Spirit shall enable thee from thy heart to cry

Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come!
thou shalt rise from reading this morning’s portion with all thy sins pardoned; and though thou didst wake this morning with every sin that man hath ever committed on thy head, thou shalt rest to-night accepted in the Beloved; though once degraded with the rags of sin, thou shalt be adorned with a robe of righteousness, and appear white as the angels are. For “now,” mark it, “Now is the accepted time.” If thou “believest on him who justifieth the ungodly thou art saved.” Oh! may the Holy Spirit give thee saving faith in him who receives the vilest.

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

God-Appointed Prayer for Revival

There is never such a thing as revival that does not start with prayer. God had worked in Jonah’s heart to bring him to a place of confession and preparation for ministry, evidenced by his heartfelt prayer (Jonah 2:1–9). Whenever you see revival in history, you see that it always comes out of prayer. The great revival under Jonathan Edwards in the eighteenth century began with his famous call to prayer. The marvelous work of grace among the New England Indians under David Brainerd had its origin in the days and nights that Brainerd spent before God in prayer. A remarkable and widespread display of God’s reviving power broke out in Rochester, New York, under the labors of Charles Finney. It not only spread through New England, but to Great Britain as well. And Mr. Finney attributed the power of this work to the spirit of prayer that prevailed. The Great Revival of 1859 in the United States began in prayer, and was carried on by prayer more than anything else.

A great revival in the Outer Hebrides Islands should perhaps be attributed more than anything else to the prayers of Peggy and Christine Smith. Peggy was blind, and her sister Christine was crippled with arthritis. Though unable to leave their cottage even to attend church, these two godly elderly women sought God unceasingly until He brought revival to their islands, More than two centuries earlier, a little-known pastor in Epworth, England, knelt in his study and pleaded with God to send revival to his nation. Little did Samuel Wesley know that two of his sons, John and Charles, would be the answer to his prayers. A true awakening, a true revival, always begins with prayer.

Taken from The Runaway Prophet, by David Jeremiah.

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Edwards Wednesday

Romans 9:15

Divine Liberty

God can, without prejudice to the glory of any of his attributes, bestow salvation on any of the children of men, except on those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. The case was thus when man fell, and before God revealed his eternal purpose and plan for redeeming men by Jesus Christ.

It was probably looked upon by the angels as a thing utterly inconsistent with God’s attributes to save any of the children of men. It was utterly inconsistent with the honor of the divine attributes to save any one of the fallen children of men, as they were in themselves. It could not have been done had not God contrived a way consistent with the honor of his holiness, majesty, justice, and truth.

But since God in the gospel has revealed that nothing is too hard for him to do, nothing beyond the reach of his power, and wisdom, and sufficiency; and since Christ has wrought out the work of redemption, and fulfilled the law by obeying, there is none of mankind whom he may not save without any prejudice to any of his attributes, excepting those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. And those he might have saved without going contrary to any of his attributes, had he not been pleased to declare that he would not.

It was not because he could not have saved them consistently with his justice, and consistently with his law, or because his attribute of mercy was not great enough, or the blood of Christ not sufficient to cleanse from that sin. But it has pleased him for wise reasons to declare that the sin shall never be forgiven in this world, or in the world to come. And so now it is contrary to God’s truth to save such.

But otherwise there is no sinner, let him be ever so great, but God can save him without prejudice to any attribute; if he has been a murderer, adulterer, or perjurer, or idolater, or blasphemer, God may save him if he pleases, and in no respect injure his glory.

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

Isaiah 42:16

Turn to God

God doesn’t help us carry out sin, but without His help, we can’t do what is right or fulfill every part of the law of righteousness. Just as light doesn’t help us shut or avert our eyes, it helps us to see. In fact, the eye can’t see at all unless the light helps it. In the same way, the light of our souls helps our mental sight through His light and we can do good through His righteousness.

But if we turn away from Him, it is our own doing. We are then acting according to the wisdom of the flesh and have given in to our fleshly, lawless desires. Therefore, when we turn to God, He helps us; when we turn away from Him, He turns His back on us.

Even then, He helps us turn to Him. Certainly, this isn’t something the light does for the eyes. Therefore, when He commands, “Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you,” what else can we say but, “Help us follow Your commands”?

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Martyrs Monday

1 Thessalonians 5:17

The brass shackle is called, in Arabic, a bacle. Peter held it out as if it were a sacred object. It was a reminder of his family’s past and of Peter’s great blessing.

His grandfather had made the bacle, but it was not a craft project. In fact, he was forced to wear it by his Islamic masters. Peter’s grandfather had been captured in Southern Sudan and taken to Northern Sudan, where he was bought and sold as a slave.
Peter’s grandfather, though harassed and tormented by his Muslim masters, would not join their faith. He held fast to his faith in Christ, and his body bore the scars of his refusal. Because he was not a Muslim, he was seen as nothing more than an animal.

Shortly before he died, Peter’s grandfather had the bacle removed and gave it to Peter’s father. “Our family will not always be slaves,” he said, “but we must never forget.”

Later Peter’s father gave it to him, and he carried it with him when he escaped from his Muslim owner and fled to freedom. Today, it is no longer a sign of ownership, but a sign of God’s overcoming power. It is a symbol of God’s hand on a family, working through three generations to bring them to freedom.

“Never forget my people,” he urged. “Never stop praying for persecuted Christians in Sudan.”

Forgetfulness. It is the number one enemy of prayerfulness. We are quick to offer our prayers of support. Unfortunately, our good intentions are rarely good enough to help us carry through on our commitments to pray for those in need. What can remind you to pray for those who are persecuted around the world? Perhaps a small sticker on the face of your watch will remind you. Each time you look at your watch throughout the day can be an opportunity for you to remember a people group who live under religious persecution. Whatever method you choose to be more mindful of the missed opportunities for prayer, follow through on it. Reading stories about extreme believers will not change anything. Praying for extreme believers can change everything—maybe even today.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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