Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sorry, Goose, but it’s time to buzz the tower.

In keeping with my Bohemian heritage and Reformation Day, I thought I'd highlight one of the lesser known figures, the pre-Reformer John Huss (also spelled Jan or Johannes Hus).

Huss was from Bohemia (now part of the "Czech Republic) and was the master of the University of Prague. He preached in the language of the people (not Latin) at Bethlehem Chapel, at a time when possession of a non-Latin Bible was punishable by death.

His theological views and criticisms of the church were heavily influenced by John Wycliffe, the English pre-Reformer.

Huss (whose name means "goose" in Czech) was among the first to buzz the tower and draw the ire of the church.

He opposed the corruption in the church and was on the "wrong side" with regard to accessibility to the Bible, authority of the pope, and issues of salvation. He spoke against simony (the purchase of church offices) and indulgences (the purchase of forgiveness).

Huss was excommunicated for siding with Pope Alexander (as did the people of Bohemia) instead of the Pope who succeed him (and may have murdered him) and for failure to comply with the order to ban and burn all the works of Wycliffe, and failure to stop preaching. Part of that papal bull of excommunication forbade anyone to give Huss food, drink, salutation, discourse, purchase, sale, or hospitality.

Huss was undaunted:
Huss reminds his friends that Christ himself was excommunicated as a malefactor and crucified. No help was to be derived from the saints. Christ’s example and his salvation are the sufficient sources of consolation and courage. The high priests, scribes, Pharisees, Herod and Pilate condemned the Truth and gave him over to death, but he rose from the tomb and gave in his stead twelve other preachers. So he would do again. What fear, he wrote, "shall part us from God, or what death? What shall we lose if for His sake we forfeit wealth, friends, the world’s honors and our poor life?... It is better to die well than to live badly. We dare not sin to avoid the punishment of death. To end in grace the present life is to be banished from misery. Truth is the last conqueror. He wins who is slain, for no adversity "hurts him if no iniquity has dominion over him." In this strain he wrote again and again. The "bolts of anti-christ," he said, could not terrify him, and should not terrify the "elect of Prag."
-Phillip Scaff, History of the Christian Church, §45.
Even though the Council of Constance had condemned Wycliffe and ordered his writings burned and his bones exhumed, burned, and sprinkled in the river, Huss did not distance himself from Wycliffe.
"I indeed confess that I hold the true opinions propounded by Master John Wycliffe, professor of sacred theology, not because he taught them but because the Scriptures taught them."
-Matthew Spinka, John Hus at the Council of Constance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965), pp. 69-70.
In the face of trumped up charges and imminent death, Huss was able to express joy to Christ while being burned at the stake as a heretic in 1415. As Huss stood before the stake he reportedly said, "In the truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, I die willingly and joyfully today."

584 years after Huss experienced a humiliating and cruel death, Pope John Paul II apologized to the Czech people on December 17th, 1999.
"Today, on the eve of the Great Jubilee, I feel the need to express deep regret for the cruel death inflicted on Jan Hus and for the consequent wound of conflict and division which was thus imposed on the minds and hearts of the Bohemian people."
-The Vatican Information Service (VIS)

Incidentally, Huss proved to be a prophet at his execution when he said, "You are roasting a poor Bohemian goose, but in 100 years there will arise a swan whom you will neither roast nor boil."

I don't know if any would refer to him as a swan, for Pope Leo called Martin Luther a "wild boar" (i.e., pig) in his papal bull of excommunication, Exsurge Domine. ("Rise up, O Lord, for there is a wild boar loose in your vineyard.")

I have every confidence that this "pig" would find kinship with "the goose" and wouldn't hesitate to say, "Ich bin ein Hussite."

"A cantionale, dating from 1572, and preserved in the Prag library, contains a hymn to Huss’ memory and three medallions which well set forth the relation in which Wyclif and Huss stand to the Reformation. The first represents Wyclif striking sparks from a stone. Below it is Huss, kindling a fire from the sparks. In the third medallion, Luther is holding aloft the flaming torch."
-Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, §45.

On the 490th anniversary of Luther's nailing of the 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenburg, we also celebrate John Huss, an early advocate of sola Scriptura, who was willing to die a martyr's death for the One who had died for him.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Do not seek the treasure!

This is the time of year when I am inclined to share some thoughts on the incompatibility of Halloween and Christians. I did that last year, however, and I'll summarize with the notion that the American holiday of Halloween typically does one of two things, or both. It either sucks Christians into the glorification of evil and death (e.g., imagery such as witches, black cats, haunted houses, and other slooge that is either superstitious or blatantly deviltry) or into the consumerism whereby they spend lots of money on costumes and candy for no redeeming reason.

But ... what I wanted to talk about was another form of deviltry incompatible with Christianity, Freemasonry. A good buddy recently asked me for some Cliff's Notes on the subject since he knew it was the subject of a consuming study for me for about 1.5 years in the mid-1990s.

Back before the days of the Internet's proficiency, one had to work harder at research. So, I would visit Christian bookstores and gobble up every book I could find on the subject, always in the "Cults" section, mind you.

I've actually been meaning to whip up a little something about Freemasonry, so this was a good catalyst. There are a great many books and even a few good videos on the market that implicate Masonry as deviltry in varying ways and in varying degrees.

There are some good websites (e.g., Saints Alive in Jesus and Ephesians 5:11), though some are a little on the "fighting fundy" side (e.g., The Curse of Baphomet).

(FYI: "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." -Ephesians 5:11, ESV)

The gist is that Freemasonry is essentially a religion and not merely a club or a hobby. It uses religious language, meets in a temple in meetings led by the Worshipful Master, requires initiates to proclaim they are in darkness but want to be in light, etc.

And that's the trick really, Masonry is a source of light and it helps the initiates to navigate through the various light-givers (Jesus, Confucius, Lucifer, etc.) to learn the secrets of the craft and the world.

In fact, I just say this piece recently that the courts have provided Masonry religious protection. Pike would be proud.
"Every Masonic lodge is a temple of religion, and it teachings are instructions in religion...this is the true religion revealed to the ancient patriarchs; which Masonry has taught for many centuries, and which it will continue to teach as long as time endures."
-Pike, Albert. Morals and Dogma, 213-14.

Even my SBC has put forth some criticism of the Masonic religion, though its been muted by the many Masons within the SBC who serve on deacon boards, etc.

They ordered a study in 1992, which was pretty tame, but even it found "many" tenets incompatible with Christianity and they didn't even really get into the writings of the higher ups like Mackey or Pike. Of course, we're a non-binding association/denomination anyway, but they couldn't say "Don't do it." The pressure they got from the masons within forced them to soften the conclusion to "examine in light of your conscience," but it's better than nothing.

Most denominations, however, actually have statements against Masonry and many even forbid lodge membership for its members.

I've read the primary sources and finally had to break down and buy them (e.g., Mackey's Lexicon of Freemasonry and Pike's Morals and Dogma). There's no denying that in them they say stuff like "Sure Adonay is god, but Lucifer is also god" and "we recognize only the light, not the light bearer." For those Masonic authorities, Lucifer is the supreme lightbearer.

I know, it seems far-fetched. We have an organization that bills itself as a bunch of good ol' boys and which encompasses the Shriners, who also do many great things. Many grew up as Rainbow Girls or Job's Daughters or in the DeMolay.

Either you or your relatives have probably been affiliated with Freemasonry in some way. Surely, Grandpa wasn't dancing around in goat leggings and toasting goblets of blood. Probably not, but he did wear an apron to protect his "generative principle" and he participated in an organization that is even less compatible with Christianity than Mormonism is, and membership for Christians is a "compromise and a contradiction" (Rice, John R. Lodges Examined by the Bible, 47).

But there's worked into the system a bit whereby they intentionally deceive the younglings so that they don't really understand all that they do, they just think they understand.
"The average Mason is lamentably ignorant of the real meaning of Masonic symbology and knows as little of its esoteric teaching"
-Steinmetz, George H. Freemasonry-Its Hidden Meaning, p.5

So, they give their money and it looks like a good philanthropic organization, but it's very similar to the Mormons in that regard whereby you call yourselves Christian and use some of the same terms, but give different meanings.

This is no surprise, especially when you realize Joseph Smith was a Mason and he brought much of that with him to the Mormons, who also have secret ceremonies and levels of advancement, etc. Also no surprise, Mormons are not allowed to be Masons. My assumption is that they don't want folks to gain "knowledge" prematurely or learn the overlap, etc.

Many writers have written about the influence Masons have had on our government, including the layout of Washington, D.C. and its monuments. Others have drawn connections to the Klan, and having had a relative who was public about one and very secretive about the other, I'm not surprised.

In a sermon entitled, "Freemasonry and Christianity" Alva J. McClain (Founder and 1st President of Grace Theological Seminary) shows why a Christian cannot be a Mason. He offers four (bad) reasons why a "professing" Christian might stay, but lists men of faith who have fought against Masonry (John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Madison, Millard Fillmore, Daniel Webster, Charles Sumner, Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey, for example).

There's a good video I have entitled, "Freemasonry: From Darkness to Light" that essentially shows just how similar Masonry is to witchcraft in its ceremonies and incantions, including the initial initiation ceremony and both ending their prayers with, "So mote it be." You can watch a portion of the video here.

There are many books and articles that can be read and I'd be happy to share with you an annotated Bibliography, though somewhat dated now. Most Christian bookstores will have some slooge on Masonry in their "Cults" section. You can also watch a video on the secret history of Freemasonry here.

G.A.O.T.U. (The Great Architect of the Universe) is not the same as the God of the Bible. If nothing else, I hope you come away knowing that.

Many Masons never make it out of the Blue Lodge, the first 3 degrees. Many never branch off into either the York or Scottish Rite. Many never get the fullness of the secret words like Tubal Cain, Boaz, "No help for the widow's son?", Mahabone, Hiram Abiff, Jabulon, the sexuality of the "square & compass," Jachin, the "point within a circle," the obelisk, and the Luciferian nature of Masonry.

So, I don't want to give the impression that every Mason worships the devil in spirit and falsehood. But I would say that any professing Christian serious about his commitment to Christ should prayerfully examine the organization. But, it's inconceivable to me that one could not have the eyes to see the conflict with Christianity.

Bob Jones III, President of Bob Jones University (in a letter to Thomas D. Resinger) wrote, "It is a Luciferian religion. We are fully aware of its diabolical origin and purpose. I believe than any born again Christian, when the facts from the lips of the Masonic writers themselves are presented showing that Masonry is a religion and is the worship of Satan, will immediately withdraw."

Masonry treasures light, but that light is not the Light of the World, but a false light. Do not seek the treasure.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

Buy this. Ligonier Ministries is commemorating Reformation Day this Wednesday by offering their (hardcover) Reformation Study Bible for ONLY $15.17. If you don't have one, you'll be hard pressed to ever find a better deal, but they must be purchased on 10/31.

"Not for retail ... while supplies last"


Read as Adrian Warnock shares 12 Literary Features of the Bible, a portion of the ESV Literary Study Bible.
"1. A unifying story line. Although the overall genre of the Bible is the anthology of individual books and passages, the Bible possesses a unity far beyond that of other literary anthologies. The technical term for a unifying superstructure such as we find in the Bible is metanarrative (big or overarching story). In the Bible, the metanarrative is the story of salvation history—the events by which God worked out his plan to redeem humanity and the creation after they fell from original innocence. This story of salvation history is Christocentric in the sense that it focuses ultimately on the substitutionary sacrifice and atonement of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from death. The unifying story line of the Bible is a U-shaped story that moves from the creation of a perfect world, through the fall of that world into sin, then through fallen human history as it slowly and painfully makes its way toward consummation and arrives at the final destruction of evil and the eternal triumph of good."


Could your fellow Christians be lying to you? Read about the findings that "more than half of Christians admitting telling a lie within the last month."
Others only admitted to telling small white fibs and felt that these did not constitute lies, "I have only lied about meaningless and insignificant things, I don't think that God cares about those."


Read about my kind of town, a town that banned "saggy pants."
"With a councilman saying underwear "is called underwear for a reason," another Cajun-country town has banned saggy pants from its streets."


Read Dr. Hansen's article, The Politics Of Rape: Debunking The Feminist Myth.
"“Rape isn’t about sex!” That’s what feminists proclaim. And they’ve declared it so continuously and persuasively over the last few decades, most of our society have come to believe it. The fact is, it’s not true—it’s a myth."


Read John Piper's 11 Benefits of Biblical Manhood (or you can listen).
"5. Men are awakened to their responsibilities at home to lead the family and protect the family and provide for the family. A clear definition of manhood helps a man take responsibility."


Read about the letter the police chief in Brussels had to write because his officers were distracted on the job. Rumor has it that being a police officer is now going to be about more than just visiting the brothels and bars while on duty.
""These officers think their duty hours are to be used to drink alcohol in bars, practice sports..., visit brothels or massage parlors, and entertain (intimate) relationships with residents of the neighborhood during their patrol," said the letter from a local police chief."


Read as Joe Thorn shares 6 Rules of Cultural Engagement.
"I am a fan of that three-fold approach to engaging culture: reject what is evil, receive what is good, and redeem what is broken/lost. I think this is a healthy way of thinking about how we should respond to our culture, because our culture(s) is not one thing."


Read as William F. Buckley Jr. considers why Roman Catholic Rudy Guiliani will not automatically get endorsement by other Roman Catholics or the Roman Catholic Church in the National Review article, What about the Faithful?
"Which is to say that a candidate holding out his affiliation with a religious body as a reason to presume harmonious values with other voters of the same faith has to prepare for a likelihood of resentment among coreligionists if he appears lax in the practice of his faith. Members of a club can be relaxed about the member who does not pay his dues. But there is the risk there of continued neglect gradually understood as disloyalty. The way things work in modern times, under modern pressures, more people’s attention is attracted by defiance of a protocol than by inconsistent attention given to it. The guest who neglectfully fails to bow when the queen enters the room is not especially conspicuous, but becomes so if it crosses the mind of others that he is challenging the legitimacy of the sovereign, rather than merely to being absent-minded about protocols."


Read as Generous Giving offers responses to a myriad of excuses people give in order to not give.
1. I am up to my ears in debt. I cannot give now.
The Christian in debt has an obligation, not only to his creditors but also to God, to pay off his debts and, what is more, to stay out of debt in the future (Roman 13:8). But the responsibility to pay off debts does not cancel out the responsibility to give to the Lord. Specifically, the Bible tells us to give to the Lord from our “firstfruits,” that is, the first and best of our income (Proverbs 3:9). As Larry Burkett has said, the first check we write belongs to the Lord and no one else, not even a creditor. Perhaps it sounds harsh, but in fact, giving like this turns out to be in our own best interest. We refrain from giving because it feels financially insecure. But in fact, God promises that giving to him is the most secure financial move one can make. If he gave up his own Son for us, surely we can count on him to give us all things (Romans 8:32). For those who give, he will provide all they need at all times, even making them rich so that they can keep on giving (2 Corinthians 9:8-11). We should make it a high and immediate priority to pay off our debts, but we should also give whatever we can in the meanwhile.

Read about the devastating quandary in which college students find themselves due to the jump in the cost of birth control.
The 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh filled the rest of her yearly prescription at the old price, but she finally ran out this month and will have to come up with an additional $360 a year. "That's the cost of my yearly electric bill or half my books for a semester," she says. "I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to do."
Now, anyone who's tried to have an intelligent conversation with me would affirm that I'm no rocket scientist, but I'm thinking I have a solution to her problems. Uh ... either go without electricity and/or books or ... stop having premarital sex.


Read about 5 Ballpark Promotions that Went Wrong.


Read as Aaron addresses the phenomenon of A Caveotic Blogosphere. (*CAVEAT: I don't necessarily endorse everything ever written by him or those who know him or those he knows, nor do I endorse everything ever written by those whose stuff he has read or will read in the future, nor does he necessarily endorse everything I've ever written, though he probably should.*)
"But why do we feel the need to add the caveat any statement of support for another's ministry? Because we fear the guilt by association that so often comes with forays into the Christian blogosphere minefield. If we say one good thing about someone else (and we are deemed worthy of a takedown), many of the watchdog "ministries" or individuals spring into action and play six degrees of separation from heresy."

Read Dr. Hanson's argument that Love Isn’t Enough: 5 Reasons Why
Same-Sex Marriage Will Harm Children.

"Proponents of same-sex marriage believe the only thing children really need is love. Based on that supposition, they conclude it’s just as good for children to be raised by loving parents of the same sex, as it is to be raised by loving parents of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, that basic assumption—and all that flows from it—is false. Because love isn’t enough!"


Apparently I'm not alone. Read Pat Buchanan's attempt to tap the brake on the global warming "scare and scam" tactics. Incidentally, am I the only one who remembers the concern over global cooling in the 70s? I bet you a dime to a donut that in your lifetime there will be those who propose that we should be concerned about global cooling.
"Whether it's hunger, poverty or homelessness, in the end, the poor are always with us, but now we have something else always with us: scores of thousands of federal bureaucrats, and armies of academics to study the problem and assess the progress, with all their pay and benefits provided by our tax dollars."


Read as the assistant editor for the Jena Times speaks to Media Myths about the Jena 6. (also here)


Read Dan Edelen's list of 100 Truths in 30 Years with Christ, things he's learned from the Lord in his tenure as a Christian. There's some good stuff here and it has prompted me to work on my list of 93 things I've learned from the Lord as my 20th anniversary is coming up relatively soon. I encourage you to work on such a list as well.
"I’ve kept my eyes, ears, and spirit open over that time, storing away what I’ve learned. Obviously, what I share here isn’t the sum total of all I’ve learned, just some basic truths God taught me that inform my every day."


Read as Paul Lamey asks Did Jesus spiritualize the OT? Check out the dialog in the comments section sparked by his answer and his chart making his argument.


Check out Gunny's recommendation with regard to Christian counseling at Conservative Reformed Mafia.
"I'm a big fan of Nouthetic counseling and I've also been a fan of this therapist, including his television work over the years. As such, I thought it might be helpful to share his words of wisdom, though they be few, in this taping of a counseling session."


Read about how southerners give more to religious organizations, particularly to their churches.
The numbers prove it: Southerners are more generous to their churches, while lagging in other categories of giving.


Carl Trueman was recently speaking on various topics as part of the Luther and the Reformation themed Reformation Heritage Conference. Give a listen.


"When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other."
-Eric Hoffer

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

If I'm here, and you're here, doesn't it make it our time?

There are some moments in your life that you know you need to savor and enjoy. By the grace of God I have been keenly aware that I need to appreciate the moment, for it will soon be gone.

I've been blessed with many such moments, where I wanted time to stand still, for I knew it was an experience that I would one day look back upon with great nostalgia. They've all involved my children and I've had at least one with each child.

The first was when I took Sarah on a "Daddy-Daughter" day when she was less than a year old. Much of the time was spent with her asleep in the stroller as I pushed her around the pond at the park. But sitting on the park bench with her snuggled up on my chest I was overcome with emotion. It was as if I could see her going to school and graduating and dancing with her at her wedding. I knew in an instant that she wouldn't be a baby for long and that I needed to absorb the moment as best I could.

Rachel has always been a "Daddy's girl." She's always been the one most inclined to like what I like and to care about the things I care about. She would always run to me at full speed when I'd pick her up from preschool. I was doing some church work on the computer when Rachel was 4 years old. She had come in to visit for about the 93rd time and I really didn't have time and wasn't interested in small talk. She had come in and wanted me to show her my pipes, explaining which country each one was from. She had come in to talk about what I was doing at church and she reminded me that I was the pastor of the church and that it was important because I helped people learn about God. None of this was helping my efficiency.

However, when she came in and I gave her a curt, "What is it now, Rachel?" and I got a sheepish, "I brought you a Cherry Coke" time stood still. I looked at her and the thought hit me like a ton of bricks, "She just wants to spend time with her daddy." I knew there would come a day soon that dad would be much further down on the depth chart and that I would have a hard time getting time with her. With tears in my eyes I gave her a hug and then held her at arm's length just to look at her. She asked, "What's wrong?" I responded with, "Nothing. I just want to remember this moment forever."

Eric Jr. is my only boy and with that comes certain blessings and curses. One such mixed bag occurred last January when he and I made a road trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to get our picture taken with the World Series trophy the Cardinals had won a few months prior. We had a great time and pulled off to the side of the road so I could take his picture in the snow. Doing so I was overcome with the realization of the uniqueness of the event.

Though the Cardinals have been a good team, this was only their 2nd championship in my lifetime. I thought, "We're in Oklahoma standing in snow wearing Cardinals gear as I'm making a road trip with my boy to get our picture taken with the World Series trophy. There's a greater than zero chance this will never happen again. Enjoy it." I recorded the moment with the camera, but I savored it in my heart. What's more, so did my son. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Dad let's go back to Oklahoma, just you and me." He starts kindergarten in August of 2008. We'll definitely have to get in another road trip before then.

TONIGHT I had another one of those moments.

Victoria had fallen asleep on our bed and after midnight it was my job to carry her up to her own bed. She is 2 years old. As I started up the stairs I had the distinct feeling of Déjà vu, particularly since I had done this same thing recently, but with my 8 year old daughter, Sarah.

I had a flashback to when Sarah was 2. I was stopped in my tracks as I realized that in the blink of an eye Victoria would be 8 years old.

I got a call this past week from my boss at Southwestern Seminary, checking in on my PhD progress, which has not been impressive, to say the least. He encouraged me to keep plugging away at it, though it may take a while.

But, as only a brother a little further down the journey can do, he gave me some advice. He said to "enjoy your kids," to enjoy them while they're young, because you'll never get that time back.

Walking down the stairs tonight, I thought of two things.

ONE: the words of a song by Kansas that was playing on the radio as we left my Uncle Terry's funeral in 1979:
I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone ...
It slips away, and all your money won't another minute buy.
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.

TWO: the words of James:
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
-James 4:14, ESV

I enjoyed taking the family to the Plano East high school football game tonight, but even more I enjoyed standing there beside Victoria's bed, holding her in a horizontal position.

I committed that I would hold her and enjoy the moment until my arms or my back gave out. My arms gave out before my heart was done.

Sometimes late at night when I check on my kids before going to bed I will just kneel down by their beds and watch them sleep. I'm overcome with love for them and can't help but thank God for them and pray for them. Sometimes I lose track of time, but I know our time together is short and I find myself repenting of every moment with them that is wasted.

Because if I'm there and they're there, that makes it our time, and I'm going to savor it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.

Okay, some of us might have to turn in our "Man Cards."

Popular Mechanics has a list of 25 Skills Every Man Should Know.

Oddly enough, bow hunting skills and computer hacking skills didn't make the list.

Every man should know how to...

1. Patch a radiator hose
2. Protect your computer
3. Rescue a boater who has capsized
4. Frame a wall
5. Retouch digital photos
6. Back up a trailer
7. Build a campfire
8. Fix a dead outlet
9. Navigate with a map and compass
10. Use a torque wrench
11. Sharpen a knife
12. Perform CPR
13. Fillet a fish
14. Maneuver a car out of a skid
15. Get a car unstuck
16. Back up data
17. Paint a room
18. Mix concrete
19. Clean a bolt-action rifle
20. Change oil and filter
21. Hook up an HDTV
22. Bleed brakes
23. Paddle a canoe
24. Fix a bike flat
25. Extend your wireless network

How well did you fare on this exam?

I have to argue with the list, at least a bit. They've overestimated the value of some, but neglected others. My additions:
  • Change a car tire.
  • Swim.
  • Open a tight lid on a jar.
  • Make coffee.
  • Skin a buck
  • Run a trout line.
  • Live off the land.
  • Catch catfish from dusk 'til dawn.
  • Spit some Beechnut in that dude's eye.
  • Cook steak on the grill, having created a charcoal fire.
  • Make an omelette.
  • Tie a bowline & taut-line hitch.
  • Tie a tie (bow tie is for the advanced class).
  • Make chili.
  • Unclog a drain or toilet.
  • Use jumper cables.
  • Change his child's diaper.
  • Balance a checkbook.
  • Change spark plugs.
  • Set up a tent.
  • Talk intelligently about religion & politics, arguing a point without shouting or fisticuffs.
  • Train a dog.
  • Ride a horse.
  • Ride a Harley.
  • Water ski.
  • Drive a car with a standard transmission (stick shift).
  • Cauterize the wound from an arrow using only a knife, gun powder, a stick to bite, the heel of a revolver, some whiskey, and a cheap cigar.
  • Exterminate fire ants ... with extreme prejudice.
  • Use duct tape to fix any and all broken things.
What did I miss?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It was a McDonald's hot apple pie. They're not kidding. It was hot.

Without the Cardinals in it, I've not followed baseball much this post-season, expect to watch the Cubs get swept in the first round.

However, I've been quite impressed with the Colorado Rockies, who have won 22 of their last 23 (including the end of the regular season). They are a RED HOT team, I mean they're like McDonald's hot apple pie hot!

But they're starting a 7 game series on the road against the Boston Red Sox.

Can the Rockies, the hottest team, beat the Red Sox, perhaps the best overall team?

I think they can, but Game 1 plays a key role in the outcome of the series.

I don’t want to overstate the importance of Game 1, but I really think it could crush the Rockies if they lose it.

They didn’t expect to get to the playoffs, let alone the World Series.

When a team already feels it has overachieved, losing Game 1 could be tragic.

Remember STL in 2004? If they beat Wakefield in Game 1, that thing is a whole other series. They lost a close game and got swept in the series.

If STL would have lost in Detroit in Game 1 in 2006, I think they go out with a whimper, already stoked and shocked to have beat the Mets. Instead, they win Game 1 and head to St. Louis having secured a split on the road. They never went back to Detroit.

My prediction: If the Rockies lose Game 1, they AT BEST lose the series 4-1.

BUT … if they win Game 1 in Boston … I think they win the whole thing.

Shoot! And I said I wasn’t going to overstate the importance of Game 1.

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Stop whining! Take it like a man!

*The following is an article I wrote that will be appearing in the Wylie News and Murphy Monitor this week.*

Stop whining! Take it like a man!

The older kids were at school, so dad duty was limited to my younger two. This included lunch, which is always an adventure. This was no exception.

Mom left sandwiches for each child in a plastic container, one white and one purple. Upon seeing that the purple container was designated for him, my four-year old son remarked, “But I don’t like purple.”

To this, the sympathetic Victoria blasted, “Stop whining! Take it like a man!”

From this two-year old I learned a few things: First, kids are great at parroting lines from movies they’ve seen (e.g., “Night at the Museum”).

Second, complaining is unattractive to others. Even kids hate to hear other kids being childish. How’s that for ironic?
We all love to complain, but the complaints of others do not inspire us.

But … Why do we complain? We complain because we think we deserve better than what we’re getting. We think our desires deserve to be satisfied.

But … Why is complaining unattractive to others? They wonder, “Who does he/she think he/she is?” Those aren’t complaining, but that’s because their desires have been met, and in that light a complainer just looks selfish and childish. The complainer can give the impression that his/her desires are more important than those of anyone else.

But … Why is complaining so unattractive to God? God is the one who is running the universe and doing so in a way that seems best to Him. Complaining is in essence criticism of His management of the planet, including our own little universes.

The Bible says to “Do everything without complaining and arguing” (Philippians 2:14, NIV).

I think that can be done, with God’s help, but only if we really understand Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV).

If you are a Christian, one who loves God and had been called according to HIS purpose, you can be confident in God’s promise that all you encounter will be for your own good. You may see how things work out for your good with the 20-20 hindsight, but other times you may just have to take it by faith, taking it “like a man,” that is.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

I had to put my thinking cap on to see the connections, but read the rationale of the rhetorical question: Could Craigslist be unintentionally HELPING prolong the war in Iraq?

Al Gore created waves in blog world by winning the Nobel Prize. Yet, one of the most famous peace advocates/activists never won it. Read about Gahdhi and why he never won the Nobel Peace Prize.
"Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) has become the strongest symbol of non-violence in the 20th century. It is widely held – in retrospect – that the Indian national leader should have been the very man to be selected for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was nominated several times, but was never awarded the prize. Why?"

Read about Radio Disney's censorship of "God" from the advertisements for the movie, "The Ten Commandments" (HT Shock). What's next, a Christmas movie without reference to Jesus?
"Radio Disney was to broadcast a radio spot for Promenade Pictures, makers of the film "The Ten Commandments," but the company sent an e-mail earlier this month instructing that the phrase "chosen by God" be stripped from the script."

Read these 10 Fast Fixes When You Need Instant First Aid.
5. You have a nosebleed.
Don’t put your head between your knees or tip your head back. The latter is especially bad because you can breathe the blood into your lungs or get it in your stomach and vomit. Press the fleshy part of your nose, and not the part where your glasses sit — lower than that — as if you are trying to stop a bad smell. Now — and this is the important part — press firmly for a complete 10 minutes by the clock. People don’t do that, they let up every three seconds to see if it stopped. Ten minutes!

Read as Mark Driscoll speaks to the epidemic of Cell Sin.
"I know in years past I too have been guilty of these same digital sins against God, my family, and my own well-being. Now that I see it as a sin that destroys silence, solitude, fellowship, prayerful listening, and meaningfully and attentive friendship, I am deeply convicted that there is a new spiritual discipline of fasting from technology to be mastered."

Lionel Woods at Black and Reformed autobiographically admonishes us to keep watch over what we say AND hear.

Read about one more reason Rowling has "come out" with for some to not like her Harry Potter books.
"Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay."

J.P. Moreland criticizes the media for what they will and will not show with regard to the graphic and/or violent: Michael Vick, Dog Fighting and Media Hypocrisy (HT Denny Burk).
“Why won’t the media show pictures or video of abortions and aborted babies when they show the carnage of the Iraq war and the hideous dog fighting surrounding Michael Vick? Answer: It’s pure hypocrisy. The media is overwhelmingly secular and pro-abortion. The widespread use of ultra-sound pictures during pregnancy is decreasing the number of abortions. Similarly, if people were given the chance to view an abortion or its results on television, much of the abortion debate would be over. Media folk who get the importance of viewing graphic violence (dog fighting, brutality in war) to expose the real evil of certain acts and who won’t defend this right for abortion are hypocrites. It’s that simple.

What's in your cereal bowl? Scope out this breakfast cereal comparison. Included are cheers for best cereals and jeers for the worst ones. There's also a sortable chart.
Of course, not all breakfast cereal is equal. Despite coming in similar sized boxes, with similar shaped pieces, for similar priced prices, there are quite a few differences between most cereals. Some claim to be high in whole grains and fiber, to be a good source of vitamins and minerals, and to be good for your heart and cholesterol. Others however just want you to see their "wacky" cartoon characters and "fun" shapes and colors. Even still, the biggest differences lie not on the front of the cereal boxes, but rather on the back. It is there, my friends, where the important differences can be found.

Read thoughts about leaving a church from Joe Thorn's synopsis of Mark Dever's book What Is a Healthy Church? (Listen to this interview with Dr. Dever about the book, which he refers to as a sequel to Josh Harris' Stop Dating the Church, which I HIGHLY recommend.)
Before you decide to leave ...
If you leave ...

Scope out this interactive periodic table.

Want to start your daughter off on the right foot? Now you can do more than just get her an NRA membership, you can also get her a Hello Kitty AK-47.
"The world should note the hand-crocheted shoulder-stock muffler and the anodized titanium plating. Several choices in stock wood are available. With a limited run of only 500, buy now before they're gone! A mere $100 extra includes Glambo's signature wood-burnt into the opposite side of the handguard. A perfect gift for the young lady of the house. A bargain at only $1072.95!"

Admittedly, I'm not THAT interested in the N.T. Wright "New Perspective" on Paul slooge, but if you're going to enter the foray, I would suggest Wright's What Saint Paul Really Said and Piper's The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright. Piper's book has to be pre-ordered, but if you do so by the end of October it's on sale for $5 (almost ten bones off the list price).

It's one thing to wear one's theology on one's sleeve, but look as this SBTS student wears his theological affinity on his SUV.

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
-Ronald Reagan

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man!

*The following is an article that will debut this week in the Wylie News and the Murphy Monitor.*



This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man!

Before school began we had a church outing to Hawaiian Falls. It was a great time for the kids, but the wave pool was their favorite.

Though my older girls can swim, they wore precautionary life vests just to be on the safe side. Also provided were a few tubes in which folks could sit or hang on. A lady was done with hers, so she offered it to me. Eventually, I managed to get one for Sarah and Rachel.

Rachel was thrown off by a wave at one point and before you could say “Hang Ten” a pre-teen boy snatched it away.

Of course, being the good father I am I hunted him down and grabbed the tube. I sternly told him, “This aggression will not stand, man! You can’t go taking a tube away from a little girl. What’s the matter with you?”

I encouraged him to run along and tell his parents of his shenanigans, though I doubt he did.

Of course, I knew what was the matter, it’s the same problem we all share. We covet that which we don’t have. Due to our depravity we try to meet our desire to be happy by assuming the accumulation of things will satisfy us.

However, our true joy is found only in Christ. In fact, nothing else satisfies. This is why Paul could confidently say that could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Phil 4:13). He had learned to be content in want or in plenty. Why? Because he had Christ and in Christ there is a joy that transcends whether or not we have a fancy car, a big house, or an inner tube.

When we find our joy in God, He is glorified and we are satisfied, regardless of circumstances. In fact, as John Piper said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

In the end a good time was had by all at the water park, but I was reminded of the problem we all face when we’re quick to turn to aggression when we are discontent in our relationship with God. The good news is that He is enough for us and that He alone can satisfy our needs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

I recently read a challenging piece about the role of a pastor in the pro-life effort. His thesis is a response to the question, "What does a pro-life pastor looks like?"

In summary ...
“The pro-life pastor commits himself to four essential tasks. First, he preaches a biblical view of human value and applies that view to abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and cloning. Second, he equips his people to engage the culture with a persuasive defense of the pro-life view. Third, he restores lost passion for ministry with cross-centered preaching. Fourth, he confronts his own fears about preaching inconvenient truth.”

This came at a time wherein I've been asking a similar question, "What does a pro-life Christian look like?"

There's much talk about a 3rd party candidate because of fears the GOP might nominate a pro-choice candidate (namely, Rudy Guiliani). So, being pro-life is a topic of conversation once again, but this is normal leading up to an election.

Many are in fact self-described as "single issue voters," using a candidate's stance on abortion as the litmus test of whether or not to support him/her. This is particularly important with regard to the president, since it is the president who appoints judges and it is ultimately in the (Supreme) court where this battle will be won or lost.

But ... other than voting pro-life (i.e., voting for a candidate who purports to be pro-life), what do these people DO?

What does, or better yet, what should a pro-life Christian look like?

Is it more than just casting a vote every 4 years? I think so, especially since in many places the vote actually accomplishes nothing.

For example, someone who lives in Texas will (effectively) make no difference because the state will be a "Red State" and the pro-life Christian who cast such a vote actually accomplished nothing for the cause.

Now, that may sound harsh and I know about the "categorical imperative," but everybody doesn't think that way, so it doesn't negate the reality.

Let me state my point more directly: I think it ironic at best and pathetic at worst that so many make such a big deal about being pro-life (i.e., with regard to being anti-abortion) but actually DO nothing more than cast a vote.

It's easy to make fun of those who claim to be Christian but only actually go to church one or two times a year, right? But aren't the VAST MAJORITY of "pro-life Christians" only really so during an election?

What should a Christian do in keeping with his/her conviction of being pro-life? What should he/she not do?

We want to temper our zeal, for I'm not advocating doing violence or blowing up buildings, but there seems to me more than can/should be done than just clamoring for a pro-life candidate and then voting accordingly.

If you call yourself pro-life, what have you done to further the cause?

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

Scope out and register for this year's Fellowship of Reformed Churches conference in Fort Worth. (Yours truly will be one of the speakers, but don't let that scare you off.)
This year’s conference will be Saturday, November 17th, from 8:45am-3:45pm at the Leadership Development Center on the campus of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We will focus on the theme “The Character of God in Everyday Life” and we will be exploring how the character (or attributes) of God are applicable to a variety of “real life” situations. Theology, as we hope to show, is not just for the ivory tower, but immensely practical. (The conference is free, but donations are accepted to help defray costs.)


Read as Steven Levitt addresses the Economics of Gold-Digging. In particular, he shares and comments upon an economic-minded exchange between a potential gold-digger and a potential sugar daddy. You won't be disappointed.
I have to say that the respondent has some pretty sensible economics in his answer. My guess, however, is that with that mindset he probably doesn’t have any more success with ladies than the gold-digging woman does with men. Just as politics often trumps economics when it comes to public policy, rational arguments rarely win the day in dating, love, and marriage.


In a Parade interview, Brad Pitt shares of his youth and even his religious upbringing, that a college girlfriend helped him sort out. I think Pitt mis-understands the biblical God on some level, for he doesn't realize that we are to make much of God and in doing so we experience true joy.
"She helped me more than anyone else as far as setting off in my own direction," he explains. "It was my first year in college and I was pushing back against the religion thing. In my eyes it was a mechanism of guilt , this engrained system, used to keep the flock in servitude." Brad was raised a conservative Southern Baptist. "Guilt is the thing I find most evil about it. It's the thing I rail against the most. She helped me in defining what I believed.

"Religion works," he goes on. "I know there's comfort there, a crash pad. It's something to explain the world and tell you there is something bigger than you, and it is going to be alright in the end. It works because it's comforting. I grew up believing in it, and it worked for me in whatever my little personal high school crisis was, but it didn't last for me. I didn't understand this idea of a God who says, 'You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I'm the best, and then I'll give you eternal happiness. If you won't, then you don't get it!' It seemed to be about ego. I can't see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me."


Read about the Birth of the Simpsons. I remember watching them on the Tracy Ullman show and who could forget Bart saying, "Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger"?


Read Fact or Fiction?: Chewing Gum Takes Seven Years to Digest
It's a moment nearly everyone has experienced. You're contentedly chewing a wad of gum when an unforeseen turn brings about a quick disposal—the hard way. Whether the cause is imminent detection by a high school teacher, a dearth of garbage cans or even an untimely hiccup, you gulp down the rubbery gob whole. It's only then that a refrain from childhood echoes through your mind: "Don't swallow chewing gum—it will stay in your system for seven years!" As the minty mass descends into your digestive abyss, you wonder: "Will I really be part Wrigley for years to come?"


Jay the Bennett issues a challenge to formulate a "world view," but he walks you through the process and give you his as an example.


Read about Noele Kensut's rationale as to why Fred Thompson will win the presidential election in 2008. It might surprise you, but she does have history on her side.
Think a woman will be our next President? or an African-American, or a member of the Mormon Church? Are the American people ready for such a leap? Perhaps, but how about a small leap first, like for example electing a President who does not have blue eyes? Indeed no dark-eyed candidate has won the Presidency since Richard Nixon's re-election 35 years ago. All Presidents since color television has invaded the American home have had blue eyes: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Electoral runner-ups Al Gore, Bob Dole, Mike Dukakis have dark eyes. Walter Mondale and John Kerry have blue eyes, but apparently not blue enough to unseat an incumbent.


Chuck Swindoll uses the analogy of a good diet of food and its relationship to health to explain the importance of a church serving up a good diet in the pulpit.
Let’s apply this to our pulpits. If we feed our congregations the wrong food—spiritually speaking—they will wind up listless, irritable, weak, and lacking inner peace. But if we feed them the right diet of God’s Word and the living water of life, the difference in their spiritual health will be remarkable.
I agree wholeheartedly and this should be a huge priority for pastors/elders and for what one looks for in a church home.


From The Purple Cellar we learn some Life Lessons from a Toothbrush.
The biggest lesson I learned from that manual is this—we in America need to get a life. We have become the world's leading experts at turning the mundane into the major. We trivialize our lives and we trivialize society. We do it when we allow an iota of brain space to be taken up with the details of the Spears-Federline custody battle. We do it when we give an ordinary case of post-holiday, mid-winter doldrums a name like Seasonal Affective Disorder. When we allow ourselves to classify our daily oral hygiene as "an experience," we are adding to the insanity.


Read about The Tallest Tales in the American History Book.


Read the transcript of the most recent GOP debate, the first to include Fred Thompson.


Read about Professor Dan Wallace's Favorite Passage That Is Not in the Bible.
When it comes to the story of the woman caught in adultery or the long ending of Mark, why is it that translators are still hesitant to relegate these verses to the margin? My sense is that there is a tradition of timidity. The problem is that when layfolks learn that these verses are almost surely not authentic, it sends panic through their ranks.


In an interview with OK! Magazine, Lindsay Lohan reflected on her time in rehab: "It was a sobering experience."


Read about this family Bible that was used, not just displayed, a Bible back on U.S. soil after family's 8 tours of duty.
After eight tours of duty with seven family members, the Bible is now in Grand Prairie once again. But this time it's not stored away. By family decision, the Bible has been retired from active duty. "Sixty-four years and five wars have taken its toll on it," Mike said.


Buy an impressive looking library, buying books by the foot.


Read about the Methodist who "came out" about her homosexuality during the worship service.
An associate pastor says she disclosed her homosexuality during a recent Sunday morning worship service "to share with the congregation part of my faith journey and how I've experienced God's grace."

The Rev. Kathleen Weber shared her story during the Sept. 30 service at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church, where she has been on staff the past four years. She is a commissioned candidate for ministry in The United Methodist Church and is on track to be ordained next year.


"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
- Sir Winston Churchill, UK Prime Minister (1874-1965)

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Yoo-hoo ... I'll make ya famous.

Many bloggers suffer from blog envy, desiring the number of hits the big boys get. Often, I've noticed posts just as good (if not better) from lesser known bloggers than you'd find from "the pen" of famous bloggers.

So ... I thought this would be most helpful to those who aspire to be famous bloggers.


cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com


If all else fails ...

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoons by Dave Walker.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

An army without leaders is like a foot without a big toe.

This past month we had a great meeting of the Lone Star Founders Fraternal, the topic of conversation was church leadership by a plurality of elders. We had a great presentation by Jerry Halbrook of Parkway Baptist and great discussion.

Although mocked at times, a plurality of elders is a growing trend in Southern Baptist churches, where the pastor is one among equals. Elders are overseers who are freed up by deacons to focus on the more spiritual aspects of church while the deacons take care of the more physical aspects.

Sam Hughley has a good series of posts asking,
Elders in a Baptist Church?
(Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

In those posts, Sam shows that many reject the idea of a plurality of elders because it's associated with Calvinism, but he shows there is historic support for the practice among Baptists, and he shows that for opponents it's often a matter of not understanding the issues.

In my own past experience I've shown fellow (lifelong) Baptists the truths that:
1. a plurality of elders is biblically prescribed (not just described)
2. a plurality of elders has support of historic Baptists (i.e., it's not some new or Presbyterian only thing) by doctrinal statements (1644, 1689, 1858, and 1925) and church history.
3. a plurality of elders would be less confusing and better serve the interests of pastoral accountability.

They've acknowledged such, but then still said either:
1. Well, it's just not Baptist (because I'm a Baptist and have never done it that way before).
2. In spite of all that, I just don't like it.

I think much of it is ignorance, but also a fear of loss of power. Thinking they would not be elders frightens many deacons as they think they will lose power and somehow the pastor will gain it. Therefore, the "balance of powers" they seek will suffer.

Here I will lay out a brief case for a plurality of elders as the governing body in a Baptist church. That's the situation at Providence Church and I wouldn't have it any other way.

“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Heb 13:17)

This verse raises the question, who are the leaders in the church? To whose authority are people called to submit? Who are these men who watch over the church who must give an account? In short, who are the leaders in the church that are to be obeyed?

Examination of Biblical Data
NT churches were governed by a plurality of elders who were assisted by deacons who were appointed to serve the church in various ways. The pastor was an elder, but not all elders were pastors, in the vocational sense of being the primary person(s) responsible for preaching. For example, 1 Tim 5:17 notes that “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” The word “pastor” (Greek is "shepherd") as a noun is only seen in (Eph 4:11), where we learn that God gives such pastors to the church as His gifts to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Yet, it's a rather recent phenomenon whereby we seen a single pastor as the lone elder in a church.

Presbyters (also translated “elders”) and bishops (also translated “overseers”) were apparently the same individuals; the 2 terms were synonymous. For example, we note Titus 1:5 (“appoint elders”) which is followed by v. 7 (since an overseer “must be blameless”). The fact that the sentence in v. 7 begins with a “since” shows a connection: bishops are elders. Otherwise, why would Paul mention the qualifications of a group that were not whom Titus should appoint? In Acts 20:17 Paul calls the “elders of the church” of Ephesus together for a final meeting. Then, in v. 28 he addresses them as “overseers” (or bishops). Thus, any passage that deals with bishop is equally applicable to elders.

Oddly enough, Baptists would think nothing of having a plurality of deacons, even though the biblical treatment of deacons pales in comparison with texts dealing with elders. In fact, one would have a much more difficult time proving a plurality of deacons using only Scripture.

The consistent pattern in the NT is that each church (singular) had elders (plural). Note the following texts (where either elder or bishop is used):
  • Acts 11:30--elders at the church of Antioch
  • Acts 14:23--Paul and Barnabas appoint "elders in every church"
  • Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4--elders at the church in Jerusalem
  • Acts 20:17, 28--elders/bishops at the church of Ephesus (v. 17--"elders of the church")
  • Acts 21:18--elders at the church in Jerusalem
  • Phil 1:1--the church at Philippi has bishops and deacons
  • 1 Tim 3:1-7--Paul tells Timothy, the Pastor, the qualifications for elders
  • 1 Tim 5:17--elders at the church of Ephesus
  • Titus 1:5--Titus is to “appoint elders” in every town (The early church had but one church in each city or
  • town. Hence, Paul's instruction to Titus is to appoint multiple elders in every church.)
  • James 5:14--"the elders of the church"
  • 1 Pet 5:1-2--"the elders among you"

In every one of these texts the plain implication is that each church had more than one elder. The evidence is overwhelming and most SBC church governments miss the NT mark. The pastor would have been counted among them, but was not automatically over them (i.e., a pastor is an elder, but elders are not necessarily vocational pastors).


Examination of Historical Data
Although, like my church, I affirm Sola Scriptura, it is worthwhile to examine the issue of church government from a historical perspective.

First, the first London Baptist Confession of Faith (1644/46) dictates that each local church is to choose qualified “elders and deacons” for the “feeding, governing, serving, and building up” of the church. The second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) notes that the officers of the church are “bishops or elders, and deacons.” We next look at the first SBC creed, the Abstract of Principles (1858), which is still the doctrinal statement of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY) and Southeaster Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, NC). In it the officers of the church are elders and deacons. The first edition of the SBC Baptist Faith and Message (1925) noted that the officers of the church were elders and deacons. It’s not until the 1963 edition that we note a change to “pastors and deacons” as the officers of the church.

Historically, we can see that, at least as far as Baptists go, the absence of elders is a relatively recent phenomenon. It should also be noted that this change is observed not at the height of the denomination’s fidelity to biblical doctrine, but rather at a time when the conservatives were very much not in control. It was not until the late 70s and early 80s that a conservative resurgence of faithfulness to biblical inerrancy began to impact SBC life positively.

Examination of the Present State of Affairs in the SBC
The fact of the matter is that SBC ecclesiology is as varied as each individual church. However, a cursory examination of SBC churches in general reveals that the majority of SBC churches do not have an office labeled as elder, although many of them would label their pastor as their lone elder if pressed.

One problem with that concept is that a plurality of eldership is lost and you may have a (hopefully) benevolent dictatorship, since the pastor is the only elder and it is the elders who govern the church. Or the church may be led by a body other than the elders (e.g., deacons, the congregation, or an ambiguous combination of various rulers), contrary to Scripture.

As more and more churches shift back to a more biblical Christianity we are also seeing a rise in popularity of the plurality of elders in SBC churches. They two may or may not be related, but my contention is that the promotion of biblical inerrancy and a prioritization of Scripture over tradition are fueling this trend.


Suggestions for SBC Church Polity
In most SBC churches there is great ambiguity with regard to how decisions are made. For example, it is often unclear which decisions are to be made by the pastor, which decisions were to be made by the deacons, and which were to be made by the congregation at a business meeting. Is the church a strict democracy or is it run by “God’s man” who dictates what the church ought to do? Is the church governed by a deacon board who sees its primary responsibility as keeping the pastor in line?

My suggestion is for churches to examine their polity in light of Scripture and to see in our Baptist tradition the legitimacy of governance by a plurality of elders.

Scripture should be enough, in theory, but the reality is that arguments against this model are typically that it is “not Baptist,” which is patently false. It’s the minority report now, but the novel or trendy move has been one to a single elder model. Making the transition would not necessarily be smooth or easy, but nobody said following Christ was easy.

A church can only go where the leaders take it. Thus, it is crucial to have a church led by spiritually qualified men who meet the biblical qualifications of elder and seek to serve and follow the “owner” of the organization, the Lord Jesus Christ.


I have other resources I could recommend, but as Baptists continue the Reformation that began with the importance of the inerrancy of the Bible, I am confident that we will continue to abide by Sola Scriptura and Semper Reformanda to bring our churches more in conformity with Scripture.

This is the trend, but it is certainly not without opposition.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Truth hurts. Maybe not as much as jumping on a bicycle with a seat missing, but it hurts.

I'm sitting in the airport last night in St. Louis talking with a fellow Cardinals fan and the discussion turns to what I do in Texas.

He then wants to engage in a theological conversation, where his assertion is that religions are all the same, they just have a few different points of doctrine.

Of course, I had to object. No, I had to strenuously object.

It doesn't surprise me to hear such from the "man on the street," but twice now I've heard this type of thing from one in whom it is inexcusable.

If it happens once, perhaps you could say it's a fluke. A second time, it is what it is.

President Bush has (again, cf. 2003) said that all religions worship the same deity.
Well, first of all, I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That's what I believe. I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace.

I have to echo the sentiment of Richard Land after the 2003 incident:
"Like many other Americans I applaud the president as a man of deep religious faith who attempts to bring that faith conviction to bear on public policy issues," Land told Baptist Press. "However, we should always remember that he is Commander-in-Chief, not theologian-in-chief. And when he says that he believes that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, he is simply mistaken."

Scripture "is clear" on the issue, Land added.

"There is one God and His name is Jehovah and His only begotten Son is Jesus Christ of the seed of Abraham and Isaac, whose mother was the Jewess virgin, Mary. Jesus our Savior has made it clear that we must know His Father through faith in Him and Him alone."

I know Christ's exclusivity is a truth that hurts, but falsehood hurts even more, having eternal consequences.

Although President Bush professes to be a Christian, his theology is inherently un-Christian and that should be huge cause for concern. I'm not a hater by any stretch of the imagination, but I hate the lie he believes and is propagating.

John Calvin wrote:
"A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent."

Something greater than freedom has been attacked. God's truth/Truth has been attacked and this aggression will not stand.

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -Jesus, John 14:6

Whoa, that was close.

I try hard not to let this "deteriorate" into a sports blog, but I have to throw a bone to the Cowboys.

They're 5-0 and won a game they had no business winning.

Tony Romo (never had his ribs, but I hear they're good) threw five (5) interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns, and lost a fumble.

Yet, through some very unlikely events, the Cowboys escaped with a victory.

They scored a touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game to trim the lead to 24-22, but they missed the 2-point conversion. They recovered the onside kick and moved the ball down the field with a few quick passes. Then the rookie kicker kicked a 53 yard field goal with 2 seconds left. But, it didn't count since Buffalo called a timeout just before the snap. So, he kicked it again, whereby the Cowboys scored 9 points in the final 20 seconds to win the game.

Whoa, that was close. They EASILY could have lost that game and I'm sure they would have, had they been using "the other guy's" break pads.

Positives:
  • The defense only gave up 3 points. Last week, the defense gave up zero (0) points. The defense had a rough start to the season, but it's pretty good.
  • For the first time in a while, the Cowboys just may have a kicker.
  • Jason Witten is Tony Romo's bread & butter.

Negatives:

  • Tony Romo had a bad, bad Leroy Brown type game.
  • The running game is more than a bit anemic.
  • Terrell Owens continues to go hot & cold, dropping balls in important situations.
  • For the 2nd week in a row, the special teams have let a kick be returned against them for a touchdown.

In case you missed the game, watch a 5-minute video recap.

Next Sunday the Cowboys host the 5-0 New England Patriots. They just might get a pretty harsh wake up call this week and they're be doomed if they play anything like they did tonight. But ... that was a game for the ages and a very exciting one to watch.

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