Wednesday, February 28

Christian Pick-Up Lines

The Wittenburg Door does it again:

Based on the ever-popular 1611 best-seller, John Donne's Elocution Equippers, this all new pocket-sized book is just what the single Christian needs to pick-up one of those fine Christian ladies, and each line is scripturally or historically based!

Pick-up lines range from beginner-level, such as the favorite, "Do you want to start a Bible study with me?" to professional-grade, "In Koine Greek you would be known as babelios-dynimo. I've studied the ancient language for three years just to be able to tell you that truth with confidence." (Do not attempt this line unless you have actually studied Koine Greek.)


"Can I have your number? God told me that if I have faith when I ask I shall receive." (Matt. 6:7)

"Miss, I believe that if you were to count your ribs you'd find you have one of mine." (Gen. 2:21-23)

Continue reading HERE.

Of course, if you are in to courting rather than dating ... things would work a bit differently!

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Falwell Newspaper Says War With Iran Prophesied in Bible

From Ethics

The March cover story of Jerry Falwell's National Liberty Journal says the world may be on the brink of a major war foretold in the Bible as a precursor to the return of Christ.

The story, headlined "Are We on the Precipice of War in Iran?" by contributing editor Edward Hindson, compares current events in the Middle East to prophecy in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel about a cataclysmic battle involving Israel and "Gog, of the land of Magog."

Most Bible scholars consider the passage to be written in apocalyptic language, which might mention actual people and places but was not intended to be taken literally. Some biblical literalists, however, view the passage as predicting future events indicating today's Christians are living in the period just prior to the return of Christ. Last year best-selling author John Hagee published a book Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World suggesting a nuclear showdown involving Iran could signal the beginning of the end of the world.

The ancient land of Persia, a world power when Ezekiel wrote in the 6th century before Christ, became known as Iran in 1935, Hindson, assistant to the chancellor at Falwell's Liberty University, noted. Today it is called the Islamic Republic of Iran and is a sworn enemy of the modern state of Israel.

"As one can see, the stage is indeed being set for the invasion of Israel as outlined in Ezekiel. With the exception of Russia (Rosh), all of the countries identified in Chapter 38 are controlled by openly anti-Semitic, Muslim-controlled governments whose primary goal seems to be focused on the annihilation of Israel," he wrote. "The five former Soviet republics (Magog) along with Iran (Persia) already have, or are desperately trying to secure, nuclear weapons. The attack against the tiny country of Israel will come from all sides. This vast network of enemy nations will extend from Russia and its associated republics in the north, to Iran in the east, Sudan in the south and Libya in the west. To say that Israel's army will be grossly outnumbered would be the understatement of the century. However, this will only serve to highlight God's divine intervention when Israel's enemies are supernaturally defeated."
Continue reading HERE.

Glad to see somebody (other than Hal Lindsey) has it all figured out.

P. S. -- The graphic is for anecdotal purposes only ... as far as I know it has nothing to do with Falwell.

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Tuesday, February 27

Future Calvinists of America

Just so Kenneth and Joanna can rest at ease I thought that I would post a picture of how well their three children are doing tonight at the Hess household. Please tell me, which of these children is the most likely to turn into an Arminian once they reach adulthood??? With Kenneth getting the opportunity to fellowship with many of our Reformed brethren in the SBC I thought that it would be appropriate to show a picture of some young ones who will by God's grace one day cherish the doctrines of grace.

Have a great time at the conference guys! We look forward to reading how it is going!

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Some Things that Ken WILL NOT See or Hear at the Founder's Conference

Just to clue you in as to how unique this conference will be that Ken will be going to with our Reformed SBC brethren I thought that it would be a good idea to inform you about some things that Kenneth more than likely will NOT see or hear at this conference.

1. An Invitation - this conference will more than likely pay no adherence to Charles Finney whatsoever - PRAISE THE LORD!!! Finney's heretical theology has infiltrated fundamental churches for far too long.

2. An Admonition to - "Ask Jesus into His Heart" - Salvation will not be presented there as a simple prayer, fire escape, or a non-Lordship issue. Christ will be presented as Lord over ALL believers and those who truly are regenerate will persevere to the end.

3. Any Nonsense Regarding the KJV Being the Only Inspired Word of God - This dead horse is one of the silliest issues that fundamentalism has dealt with over the past thirty years or so.

4. Topical Story Telling Sermons - Praise God for solid expository preachers that are taking a stand for sermons that are dictated by the Word and not by a fallacious need for "relevance".

5. A Misrepresentation of the Doctrine of Election - Ken will NOT hear such ludicrous statements such as - "I'm elected because I selected" or "God's election is based on His foreknowledge". Ken will hear from those who hold the doctrines of grace as precious and valuable to presenting a pure and authentic gospel.

If I have missed some please feel free to post away!!!

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Some Great New True-to-Life Worship Songs

Are available for your perusal ... and FREE use ... HERE.

The great news is--these are songs anyone can sing!

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Al Mohler on Larry King Live: The Transcript

If ... like me, you missed Larry King's interview with Al Mohler (have I ever mentioned he is the brightest mind in contemporary fundamental evangelicalism?!) and James Cameron regarding the Jesus Tomb non-controversy, the transcript is available HERE.

To access the Jesus Tomb interview, scroll down to the second half of the manuscript.

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Where I Am: The 2007 Founders Conference Midwest

This annual two-day conference in St. Peters, Missouri (a short 50 minute drive), is a highly-anticipated highlight for me. This year's conference promises to be one of the best in recent memory--the Ascol brothers will be speaking!

Lord-willing I will share the conference highlights on Thursday or Friday.

Until then, I ask you to be in prayer for the conference (a deacon and his wife will accompany Joanna and me), and to check out the conference website HERE.

For all you Type A fundies: yes, I will be spending two days with the great guys of the Southern Baptist Convention ... and lovin' every minute of it!

For further information regarding Founders Ministries and events, click HERE.

Oh, and pray for my blog-mate, Mike Hess and his wife, Christina, who have graciously agreed to care for our three children overnight! Pray most earnestly for them!

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You Tube Tuesday: Are You Amazed?

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth ...
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
(John 1:14, 16; ESV)

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From My Library - The Biblical View of Self-Esteem, Self-Love, and Self-Image

As most of you are aware of by now, we here at The World From Our Window are ardent supporters of Nouthetic/Biblical Counseling that adheres to the fact that Scripture is totally sufficient to deal with all matters regarding our behavior. We also want to put the kibosh on the notion that we as Bible believing Christians need to turn to the assumptions and unproven theories of secular psychology when teaching God's people how to live lives that are pleasing to Him.

Jay Adams (one of my favorite authors by far) wrote a great book that slays one of the sacred cows of the those who buy into the integration of Biblical truth and secular and anti-biblical psychology - self-esteem. Other than to tell you that you really need to have this book on your library's shelf I will highlight some points that Adams makes in this book:

1. It must not be the Christian's concern to pursue self-worth, but rather to become a worthy self.

2. Satisfaction, like peace and joy, comes not when one pursues it, but unexpectedly and always as a by-product of faithful, fruitful Christian living. The Christian evaluates achievement according to the standards of the Bible - achievement effected by grace - and not by one's own unaided self-efforts.

3. The self-worth position teaches that regardless of how he behaves, a person has a right to love himself and in fact ought to like himself; until he does, he may never change his behavior.

4. Self-esteem thinkers even teach that sin is due to low self esteem, whereas God teaches that it is due to one's sinful nature. (pg. 119)

It is becoming more and more apparent that the Church in America has bought into this fallacy of man being inherently good and the more we make of ourselves the better off a believer in Christ will be. May we by God's grace say along with John the Baptist in John 3:30 - "He must increase, but I must decrease"!

Filming Begins on Narnia Sequel

Christian Today shares some exciting news:

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the second motion picture adaptation of CS Lewis’ beloved series of literary classics, recently began principal photography on location in Auckland, New Zealand.

The film, which is the Christian parable and sequel to 2005's hit The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, will premiere in the summer of 2008.

Prince Caspian will be played by Ben Barnes.

Director Andrew Adamson returns for the new sequel along with the young quartet of British actors: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell, and William Moseley.

He shared: “If we don’t make [the film] now, we’ll never be able to because they’ll be too old."

Using a best-case scenario, it would take two years to make each movie, according to Rev Bob Beltz, director of special media projects for the billionaire media entrepreneur Philip Anschutz.

That would mean 12 more years and the last film would appear in 2017.
Continue reading HERE.

According to NarniaWeb, the film is currently set to be released on May 16, 2008. That's just 443 days away!

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Monday, February 26 Gets a Major Facelift

And thanks to Tim Challies' outstanding web design, it has turned out rather handsomely.

Click on over HERE and take a peek at the greatest reformed resource on the web!

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Ten Reasons Why the Jesus Tomb Claim is Bogus

The Christian Newswire reports:

The claim of James Cameron and the Discovery Channel that a tomb contains the bones of Jesus is bogus, said leading Biblical and archeological scholars today.

"Unfortunately, this is a story full of holes, conjectures and problems," said Dr. Ben Witherington, author of What Have They Done With Jesus? and New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. "It will make good TV and involves a bad critical reading of history. Basically, this is old news with a new interpretation. We have known about this tomb since it was discovered in 1980. There are all sorts of reasons to see this as much ado about nothing much."

Witherington and other leading biblical scholars and archeologists say there are at least 10 reasons why the "Jesus Tomb" claim is completely bogus:

  1. There is no DNA evidence that this is the historical Jesus of Nazareth
  2. The statistical analysis is untrustworthy
  3. The name "Jesus" was a popular name in the first century, appearing in 98 other tombs and on 21 other ossuaries
  4. There is no historical evidence that Jesus was ever married or had a child
  5. The earliest followers of Jesus never called him "Jesus, son of Joseph"
  6. It is highly unlikely that Joseph, who died earlier in Galilee, was buried in Jerusalem, since the historical record connects him only to Nazareth or Bethlehem
  7. The Talipot tomb and ossuaries are such that they would have belonged to a rich family, which does not match the historical record for Jesus
  8. Fourth-century church historian Eusebius makes quite clear that the body of James, the brother of Jesus, was buried alone near the temple mount and that his tomb was visited in the early centuries, making very unlikely that the Talipot tomb was Jesus' "family tomb"
  9. The two Mary ossuaries do not mention anyone from Migdal, but simply has the name Mary, one of the most common of all ancient Jewish female names
  10. By all ancient accounts, the tomb of Jesus was empty, making it highly unlikely that it was moved to another tomb, decayed for one year's time, and then the bones put in an ossuary
"In light of all the incredible number of problems with the recent claim that Jesus' grave has been found, the time-honored, multi-faceted evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus is more convincing than ever," said Dr. Gary Habermas, an expert on the resurrection of Jesus and author of The Case for the Resurrection. "Even the early opponents of the Christian message acknowledged that Jesus' tomb was empty. And the evidence for Jesus' bodily resurrection appearances has never been refuted."

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Breaking News: DNA from Jesus?

The Time Blog from the Middle East reports (and no I am not joking) that the body of Jesus has been found by James Cameron, director of The Titanic, who claims to have unearthed the tomb of Jesus and his family and claims to have DNA proof it's really Jesus.

Let's go back 27 years, when Israeli construction workers were gouging out the foundations for a new building in the industrial park in the Talpiyot, a Jerusalem suburb. of Jerusalem. The earth gave way, revealing a 2,000 year old cave with 10 stone caskets. Archeologists were summoned, and the stone caskets carted away for examination. It took 20 years for experts to decipher the names on the ten tombs. They were: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.
A few months ago, the grave of St. Paul was unearthed and now this. I actually find this humorous--the lengths some people will go to to attempt to discredit Christianity.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Britian's Disabled Newborns Likely to be Euthanized

Sad and disturbing news being reported by the AFA Journal:

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a leading British medical college, has called on the health profession to debate openly the active euthanasia of seriously disabled newborns, and the Church of England supports it.
Their reasoning for such merciless, irrational killing?
The college believes the emotional and financial burden placed on parents of disabled children is a valid reason to consider the "mercy killings."

"A very disabled child can mean a disabled family," stated a formal submission by the college. "If life-shortening and deliberate interventions to kill infants were available, they might have an impact on obstetric decision-making, even preventing some late abortions, as some parents would be more confident about continuing a pregnancy and taking a risk on outcome."
Continue reading HERE.

Perhaps the above paragraph should have begun: a group of very incompetent physicians can mean a disabled society.

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Sunday, February 25

'Why I Blog' or 'A Message to All Who Question the Kingdom Validity of Blogging'

Every once in a blue moon, a fellow pastor will question the usefulness and validity of this phenomenon we call blogging. They often preface their comments by insinuating that blogging is a waste of God-given time, a quickly-passing fad, and a kingdom-squandering hobby.

Having been at this blogging thing for 14 months, I vehemently disagree with the assertions of those who question the validity of blogging as a kingdom-furthering medium. I find it rather comical that the pastors who are quick to criticize blogging are the same pastors who rarely visit any worthwhile blogs.

Several months back, in response to one of those conversations, I posted my purposes for blogging. It is my hope that the following will clear up any confusion regarding the kingdom-validity of Christ-centered blogging. So ... here's why I blog.

First, blogging is fun (I realize this word automatically disqualifies blogging as kingdom-building in the minds of some). It really is. Not too long ago someone asked me why I blog. I explained that, for me, blogging serves several purposes:
One, blogging provides an outlet for my thoughts and ideas, in addition to teaching and preaching. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching and preaching God's Word. Yet there are some topics and thoughts I am able to address through this medium that I'm not currently able to address any other way (because of expositional preaching ... i. e., preaching and teaching through books of the Bible rather than topics in the Bible). I guess blogging, then, provides an avenue for me to vent on topics and issues that in my estimation, need to be discussed.
Two, blogging provides me the opportunity to sharpen my writing skills. I enjoy writing. Blogging serves this purpose. It would be a travesty to suppress the desires (and skills??) God has given me. And because no publishing house is knocking down my door for manuscripts (there's probably a good reason they're not!), this blog allows me to grow in my writing skills...while I wait for that big book deal!!

Three, blogging causes me to think! To be honest, part of me has a great aversion to thinking. Part of me would like to constantly veg out and coast through life exerting very little cranial effort! I know this would not glorify God or enable me to enjoy Him to the fullest. Blogging stimulates brain activity, and in this entertainment-saturated age, I need to learn to think well.

Four, good blogging stimulates edifying dialogue. This is why we are continually pleading with our readers to respond to what we write. I've been challenged and edified by many of your comments. A blog is a community of sorts; a community that encourages and edifies and stimulates thinking from differing perspectives. As Christians, we need community (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Blogging, when done well, serves this purpose.

Five, good blogging calls people to glory in their Creator. Is it possible to blog to the glory of God? 1 Corinthians 10:31 seems indicate as much. "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." I'm pretty sure Paul didn't have blogging in mind when he penned these words, but blogging does fit into the 'all' category. In our two months of blogging, we've had a good number of unbelievers stop and comment on what's been written. If our posts are logical, purposeful, and well-written, even the unsaved will read what we write. I'm not aware of any conversions due to our blog, but I hope what you've read here has promoted a passion to glorify and enjoy the Creator God.
Second, blogging is a challenge. What challenges does blogging present? Blogging presents...
The challenge of being interesting. In other words, good blogging will cause people to want to read what is written. In today's society, people become bored quickly. If I want people to return to this blog, what I write needs to be interesting. This is a challenge for a rather run-of-the-mill guy!

The challenging of being accurate and grammatically correct. My own mother has already corrected a glaring mistake I made in one of my posts on the whole End of the Spear controversy. She lovingly reminded me that "infamous" is only used in a negative context, therefore, Jim Elliot's infamous journal entry of 'He is no fool...' was grammatically incorrect! After visiting the dictionary, I admitted (and corrected) my error.

Accuracy is another challenge because much of what we address here is based upon information floating around the internet. As you know, the information highway is not the epitome of accuracy and reliability. If you've spent any time on the internet, you've probably heard about the Pepsi can controversy...that Pepsi has deleted the words "in God we trust" when quoting the Pledge Of Allegiance on their new cans. This is an old hoax (probably the work of some envious Coke executive!) that's been floating around the internet since 9/11/2001. So, yes, being accurate and reliable is a challenge.

The challenge of "redeeming the time." Mike, Don, Mathew, and I have families, and ministries, and congregations. We prepare our own taxes. We pay our own bills. We mow our own yards and shovel our own walks. The stuff of life clamors for our time, and blogging does, too. Yet I have found that I prioritize best when I'm busiest. Too many people in the church today think that busyness is something to be avoided. I disagree. Heaven is not a place of celestial slumber and laziness. Heaven is a place of busyness, a place of service and worship. Yes, I understand that heaven will be a place of rest (see the book of Hebrews), but it's not an inactive rest! So busyness isn't a bad thing, and blogging necessitates prioritizing on my part. That's a good thing!

The challenge of being clear, concise, and brief. Clarity is a most difficult objective when blogging. When communicating through writing, clarity will be a struggle, because what's written is always open to interpretation...and misinterpretation!! Being concise is another struggle. When I begin to address a blog-topic, hundreds of ideas pour into my head. I'm constantly working on sorting and arranging my ideas into a concise post. Brevity ... as much as I'd like to address this issue ... well, you can tell from this piece that I'm still honing this skill!

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Saturday, February 24

Judge Orders 'Gay' Agenda Taught to Christian Children

A federal judge in Massachusetts has ordered the "gay" agenda taught to Christians who attend a public school in Massachusetts, finding that they need the teachings to be "engaged and productive citizens."
Article available at WorldNetDaily.

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Friday, February 23

'Me Worship' ... A Must-See

You've gotta see it to believe it. So click HERE.

Special thanks to friend Chris Kropf for emailing me the link!

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Church Constitutions in the 21st Century

The best way for the Church to stay relevant is to stay faithful to the Word of God. One of the best ways to stay faithful to the Word is by making sure that we are combating the contemporary issues of our day with the timeless and relevant truths of God’s Word. As the Church has fought many battles throughout her history, today is no different. Though the truths of Scripture never change and are always relevant, and our God remains totally immutable, we as God’s people must remain constantly aware of the possible pitfalls and dangers that can potentially harm the Church of Jesus Christ if we are not diligent, prudent, and careful.

One of the ways we can do this is by making sure that our church constitutions and doctrinal statements deal with some of the contemporary issues that we will undoubtedly face in the upcoming years. A few here come to mind as I write this post that I think most of us will deal with in the near future:

1. The issue of the complementarian vs. egalitarian views of the man’s role and the women’s role in the local church. Though this was a no-brainer years ago, today this is an issue that must be addressed and articulated clearly from God’s Word.

2. The Emergent Church - The more the church stays uneducated about this dangerous movement the more effective and influential the Emergent movement will become. Churches need to be clear about where they stand regarding this issue.

3. Homosexuality – Yes, most are still aware that Bible believing churches take strong stands against this but we also need to have laid out how we are going to deal with this in the context of the life of our local churches.

4. A more articulate position on church discipline. Some churches have done this already and I applaud them. But as many of us are all too familiar with, this has been one of the forgotten responsibilities that many local churches have neglected for quite some time.

5. Nouthetic Counseling - Churches need to be clear when they believe in a method of counseling that believes in the total sufficiency of God's Word and that the Bible is a book that deals with our behavior. We also need to be clear as churches that we will NOT base our counseling on the secular assumptions of psychology, rather on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

If I have missed some, I would love to hear from you. I would be interested in your thoughts on this….

Thursday, February 22

SBC Executive Questions Effectiveness of Conservative Resurgence

What should drive the SBC ... big numbers or biblical orthodoxy? The Casper Star Tribune reports:

A top Southern Baptist executive says leaders in the convention should examine the spiritual health of the denomination now that theological conservatives have been in control for several years.

Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist executive committee, said his fellow leaders must look at whether the 16.3 million-member church is now better off.

"Is our convention any better spiritually because biblical conservatives are leading?" Chapman asked Monday, during the committee's winter meeting. "I leave that question for you to answer in the depths of your own heart."

The conservative resurgence started in 1979, when Southern Baptists angry about what they saw as the liberal direction of their seminaries elected a fellow conservative as the convention president. It was a watershed that began a dramatic shift to the right -- theologically and politically -- in the years that followed.

But in the last few years, the number of baptisms in Southern Baptist churches has reached a low point, and many of the congregations have either not grown or declined in membership.

Also, internal conflicts have arisen over whether Southern Baptists can speak in tongues during worship, among other theological disagreements.

Chapman said that cooperation among Southern Baptists is the "glue that holds us together." The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant group in the country.

"The key ingredients of cooperation are truth, trust and being trustworthy," he said. "Do you trust completely in the Lord to answer your needs? Are you willing to take the risk of trusting your fellow Southern Baptists and being worthy of their trust?"

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Is Eating Dinner Together Really All That Important?

While perusing through our first few months' posts here at The World From Our Window, I stumbled upon this always-relevant piece.

There are few memories as precious as the memories made around my childhood dining room table. I'm hoping my children are making the same memories.

Perhaps we should run this piece on consistent basis. I trust it encourages you and your family to spend time making memories around the family table.

According to this report in USA Today, the dining room table is losing prominence in British homes. The article goes on to state the apparent causes of this: lack of space, a preference to eat in front of the television, and the escalating divorce rate.

So, is the dining room table all that important to the overall health of the family? I believe so...and here's why.

First, eating dinner and/or supper together as a family promotes an environment that's conducive to effective communication. Eating in front of the television does not. Eating with my family (5 of us with children 10, 7, 6) is rarely quiet. I like it this means my children (hopefully not with their mouths full) want to talk with me, and want me to talk with them.

Second, eating dinner together as a family promotes unity in relationships. I want my children to hear me tell Joanna how delicious the spaghetti is! I want them to see me help her clean up the table, thank her for her work, and even give her a smooch on the cheek as a token of my appreciation.

Third, eating dinner together as a family gives my children opportunities to learn how to work, and then to enjoy the fruit of their labor. In our house, our son, Noah (7), loves to make our favorite orange salad. Last night, our youngest daughter, Hannah, helped her mom make the spaghetti sauce. It is rewarding to watch my children's eyes and mouths light up when everyone enjoys something they have prepared!

Fourth, eating dinner together as a family (at the dining room table) enables us to focus on others. My children like eating together as a family because (this is not meant to be funny) they get to see their daddy's face! I mean it. I enjoy eating together at a table because I like looking into the eyes and faces of my children. I get to know them this way. It's the same reason I like to play ball with my son (and still love playing catch with my dad), or ping-pong with my daughters. When we face each other, we are able to look into each other's eyes, and connect. Eating together helps us to focus our attention on someone we love.

God help us to eat together as a family, and to do it away from the television! It will have a profound impact on our children, our marriages, and our memories!

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The Preacher and His Attire

I have a few questions for those of you who are pastors, and also for those of you who are not pastors - to give your personal preferences regarding your pastors. In some of my recent discussions with some pastor friends of mind we have discussed what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to wear for the pastor. There is usually never a time when I’m asked to speak somewhere that I do not ask the two following questions – What version of the Bible is your church’s preference? And….What is the appropriate attire to wear for this event?

Personally, I HATE wearing ties. Perhaps that is due to the fact that I had to wear them everyday of my life for a few years. Please do not misunderstand me…..I wear a suit on Sunday morning and I do not plan on changing that any time soon. That is not a hill that I’m willing to die on though. Usually during the week my attire consists of khakis and a Polo shirt. I still wear a suit on Sunday night when I preach (though I wouldn’t mind changing that in the near future) and on Wednesday evening I dress casually (again Polo and khakis).

So here we go with the questions:

1. Do you have required attire that you wear on a daily basis to the office (e.g. suit, tie, non casual clothing)?

2. Do you still wear a suit for the Sunday evening service (I’m assuming here that most of the readers here who are pastors still wear suits for the AM service on Sunday)?

3. What is your attire for doing visitation?

4. Do you think the attire for your ministry is a bit too strict or a bit too relaxed? (Be honest here!!!)

5. Does your church require you to be clean shaven or prohibit the growth of facial hair?

If answering these questions will get you in trouble, then please refrain! I also understand that many of the answers that are provided here will reflect the cultural context of where your church is located but this is a post done purely out of curiosity.

Wednesday, February 21

How Election Impacts Our Worship and Evangelism

Jim of OldTruth provides a timely quote from James Montgomery Boice on how election benefits the believer:

So many people think that election is useless and perhaps even pernicious. It is nothing of the sort. It is part of the Bible's inspired teaching and is therefore "useful," as Paul insisted all Scripture is (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Here's a look at ways election impacts things like evangelism and worship:

1. Election is humbling. Those who do not understand election often suppose the opposite, and it is true that those who believe in election sometimes appear prideful or smug. But this is an aberration. God tells us that he has chosen some by grace entirely apart from merit or even an ability to receive grace, precisely so that pride will be eliminated: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).

2. Election encourages our love for God. If we have a part in salvation, however small, then our love for God is diminished by just that amount. If it is all of God, then our love for him must be boundless. Sadly, today's church frequently takes the love of God for granted. "Of course, God loves me," we say. "I love myself; why shouldn't God love me too?" Consider the little girl who loved the Barney theme song from television ("I love you, you love me; we're a happy family"). But she sang it this way: "I love me, you love me; we're a happy family." That is how we tend to think of God's love. We think we deserve it. Understanding that we are elected by grace alone undermines our self-centered, self-satisfied way of thinking.

3. Election will enrich our worship. Who can admire a God who is frustrated by the rebellious will of human beings? Martin Luther wrote, "It is not irreligious, idle, or superfluous, but in the highest degree wholesome and necessary, for a Christian to know whether or not his will has anything to do in matters pertaining to salvation.... For if I am ignorant of the nature, extent and limits of what I can and must do with reference to God, I shall be equally ignorant and uncertain of the nature, extent and limits of what God can and will do in me--though God, in fact, works all in all. Now, if I am ignorant of God's works and power, I am ignorant of God himself; and if I do not know God, I cannot worship, praise, give thanks, or serve Him, for I do not know how much I should attribute to myself and how much to Him. We need, therefore, to have in mind a clear-cut distinction between God's power and ours, and God's work and ours, if we would live a godly life."

4. Election encourages us in our evangelism. People suppose that if God is going to save certain individuals, then he will save them, and there is no point in our having anything to do with it. But it does not work that way. Election does not exclude the use of the means by which God works, and the proclamation of the gospel is one of those means (1 Cor. 1:21).

Moreover, it is only the truth of election that gives us any hope of success as we proclaim the gospel to unsaved men and women. If the heart of a sinner is as opposed to God as the Bible declares it to be, and if God does not elect people to salvation, then what hope of success could we possibly have in witnessing? If God does not call sinners to Christ effectively, it is certain that we cannot do so either. Even more, if the effective agent in salvation is not God's choice and call--if the choice is up to the individual or to us, because of our powers to persuade others to accept Christ--how could we even dare to witness? For what if we make a mistake? What if we give a wrong answer? What if we are insensitive to the person's real questions? In that case, people will fail to believe. They may eventually go to hell, and their eternal destiny will be partly our fault, and how could any thinking, feeling Christian live with that?

But on the other hand, if God has elected some to salvation and if he is calling those elected individuals to Christ, then we can go forth boldly, knowing that our witness does not have to be perfect, that God uses even weak and stuttering testimonies to his grace and, best of all, that all whom God has chosen for salvation will be saved. We can be fearless, knowing that all who are called by God will come to him.

--The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel

I have read this book, and highly recommend it to any and all who are interested in deepening their understanding of biblically balanced Calvinism.

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Christian Youth are not Opposed to Tradition, But to 'Fabricated Christian Culture'

Here is a great article from the Christian Post:

Riverside Baptist Church in Denver, Colo., is defined as a megachurch; its worship style is a blend of traditional and contemporary worship; and the attire there is both formal and informal, according to a church directory.

Senior Pastor Jim Shaddix describes his church as "somewhat contemporary." It has a robed choir and a praise team, hymnals and Brooklyn Tabernacle songs, and a big screen. One elderly lady believes the church needs to incorporate more hymnals into their worship services while the twenty-somethings want to ditch the choir and the robes. "What is a pastor to do?" Shaddix posed at a recent Southern Baptist conference.

"We generalize this trend as simply a choice between the traditional and contemporary," he noted.

But Shaddix does not see it in that light. Young people, he believes, are not opposed to hymns. In fact, they sing revisions of hymnals sung by contemporary artists such as Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. And they are not opposed to the organ, or else many of them would walk out of ball games. Pastors clad in a suit and tie are also not a turnoff to the younger generation who watch late night show hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman run their monologues in a suit and tie.

Beyond the form of traditional churches and worship styles, young people, who are labeled as the future of the church, are opposed to the "fabricated Christian culture" within the traditional churches.

"They're opposed to the lifeless and heartless way we often sing those hymns," Shaddix said at the second Baptist Identity Conference in Jackson, Tenn.

Many young adults are leaving the traditional churches they may have grown up in and searching for alternative forms, including the popular emerging church movement. Shaddix said such alternative forms are more appealing to "the marginally churched within our own camps" than the unchurched population.

In 1980, the Southern Baptist Convention baptized more than 100,000 18- to 30-year-olds. Twenty five years later, the figure dropped to slightly more than 60,000, according to Shaddix. And only 31 percent of twenty-somethings attend any kind of Christian church although more than half of them attended church weekly when they were in high school, he further noted.

"If that statistic holds up, our young Baptist friend who was an active churchgoer as a teenager won't be a member of anybody's church by his 30th birthday."

If young believers are not dropping out of an organized church altogether, they are being "captured by philosophies" like the emerging church, said Shaddix.

Making a bold statement that some Baptist church leaders agree with, Shaddix said that "both of those venues - no church at all or the emerging church - champion for a belief in nothing."

On a general note, Shaddix pointed out that the postmodern church movements downplay and depreciate sound theology, and that they will be short-lived as they are built on passing styles and forms, making "perceived relevance impossible to keep up with."

Young people are not necessarily running to something, the Southern Baptist pastor highlighted. They are running away from something.

Continue reading HERE.

For what it's worth, I agree. My primary area of ministry responsibility is to our church's young people and their parents. Here is what I have learned about our church's young people:

1) They love to sing hymns. They choose to sing hymns (along with Christ-centered choruses) when we gather as a youth group on Wednesday nights. Some of their favorites include:
How Deep The Father's Love For Us
In Christ Alone
I Will Glory In My Redeemer
Before The Throne
Lord, Most High
2) They feel what they sing. Therefore, they aren't attracted to musical fluff. They long to sing deeply meaningful theology. And through their eyes and faces, they provide a window to their hearts: they are passionate about singing to Christ.

3) They are infatuated with authenticity (and that's not a bad thing). In other words, they are quick to recognize fabricated Christianity and forged worship. That's the reason many are leaving our traditionally conservative churches -- they see through the façade of empty and meaningless worship.

4) They thrive on deep and meaningful teaching. I have been teaching through Romans during our Wednesday Night 'Generation 180' sessions. I began teaching Romans 1 in April, and I completed Romans 2 a few weeks ago. What I'm saying is this: our young people don't want a survey of Romans, they want to learn Romans. When I am moving too quickly, they will ask me to slow down and park on a specific point ... until their questions are answered.

For too long, the church has gotten what it's expected from its young people: nothing. And frankly, our young people want nothing to do with that.

5) They want real Christianity. Remember, they are the 'reality television' generation. They are keenly aware of what's reality and what's a veneer. And by their actions, they are displaying their disdain for anything less than authentic Christianity.

And that's a good thing.

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Attn: Famous Preachers Looking for a Denomination and/or Association!!!

Here are some well known preachers of yesteryear that if you have not read or have in your library, you should, yet at the same time would have a difficult time fitting into certain denominations due to of all things – eschatology and a few other minor issues. Please help these great preachers find a home in some sort of association.

Jonathan Edwards – Probably the most famous of all American born theologians. His sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is still read by thousands and his teachings on the sovereignty of God are still having an impact on Christians worldwide. YET…..he “sprinkled” babies. He also failed to adhere to a pre-trib/mil position.

Since he won’t fit into my association can you please help us find one for him? Or, would you like to be the one to kick Jonathan Edwards out of your denomination/association???

Charles Hadden Spurgeon
– Probably the most famous of all Baptist preachers and rightly so. His sermons are still in print today and his lasting impact for the cause of Christ is still felt today even in the United States. In fact, I would venture to say that no Baptist preacher has ever been more quoted than Spurgeon. No Baptist preacher has had more books read by them than Spurgeon has. Almost all Baptists that I know consider Spurgeon a hero of the faith (as they should). YET….from what I read about him he was no friend of the Darbyism theology that was attempting to be spread throughout England during his era. I also fail to find where he held to an imminent rapture (though I believe he held to a millennium in the future).

Again, I will ask, would you like to be the one that kicks Spurgeon out of your association due to his eschatology?

John Bunyan
– The writer of the most famous Christian classic “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. Bunyan was both a fervent preacher and a committed soldier of the Cross. Bunyan took on the Quakers, the heresies of his day, and was eventually thrown into prison for nearly 12 years for the preaching of the gospel. His impact for the kingdom of God is immeasurable and there are very few Christians in the world today who have not been impacted by his famous book. YET…again, we find someone who would not adhere to a pre-trib/mil position.

Again, I will ask the question - would you be willing to kick John Bunyan out of your association due to his eschatology?

Though these men could not be members of my association, I’m sure there is some denomination and or association that does not make eschatology an issue that we feel the need to separate over. We have no problem quoting, respecting their memory, or reading their sermons and classic works, but if they were alive today they would not be welcome into many of our denominations, associations and fellowships. Sad….truly sad.

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Tuesday, February 20

A Letter From the Dead

Phil Ryken highlights a letter from the late Al Groves, who taught Old Testament at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. This note was shared at his funeral:

"For most of my Christian life I have wanted to see Jesus face-to-face, to join in with the heavenly chorus in his presence around his royal throne and declare his praise in new ways. Something else has grown through the years: an abiding sense that this is not for me alone. Being with Jesus by myself is not what he wants nor is it what I want. To be there with you all, those he loves and those I have come to love, that is true joy. I have often thought of coming to heaven as Jesus standing at the finish line of a race awaiting those looking for him, trusting in him, pursuing him. But it isn't a race for me to finish first or alone. It has always been a race for us to finish together, arm in arm, having encouraged one another in faith."

I encourage every believer to draft such a letter to be read at their own funeral. The words of the dead have a profound impact upon the living.

And don't wait to draft your letter -- remember James 4:14!

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Should the Left Behind Series Be Left Behind?

Becky Garrison (with whom I rarely agree) thinks so (and I do agree):

Following my interview with “Left Behind” author Jerry Jenkins for The Wittenburg Door, I was placed on Jerry's press list. Just about every time some apocalyptic action transpired albeit in modern day Babylon (Iraq), Israel or Louisiana, I'd get a news release announcing that Jerry and Timmy were appearing on a particular national news outlet. With a childlike glee, they'd brag about how this particular event can be interpreted in light of their Revelations inspired road map that predicts the onset of Armageddon.

Like many raised as a mainline Protestant, my knowledge of this book was pretty much non-existent. Even at Yale Divinity School, this book received only a cursory reading. Hence, my critique of this group has been limited to making satirical asides that I doubt Hillary Clinton, Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein represent the Beast, and that the concept of white robed believers ascending to heaven en masse strikes me as more cult-like than Christian.
Continue reading HERE.

For the record, I consider the Left Behind series extremely dangerous literature--not because the authors are pre-trib and pre-mill, but because the books do not differentiate between the authors' opinions (what may happen) and biblical fact (what will happen). Young and undiscerning believers have fallen prey to the authors' questionable interpretations and bizarre applications.

Why has the church become infatuated with literature that mixes fact with fiction ... and fails to differentiate between the two?

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The Troubling List of the Who's Who in Black Spirituality

Do any of these names ring a bell - T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, or Archbiship Wilton Gregory? All, if not at least one of these probably do. Thabiti Anyabwile of the Pure Church blog has done some excellent posts on the future and the history of the African-American church in America. You can read them here. I praise God for Thabiti who is now pastoring in the Cayman Islands. I had the privilege of meeting him last April at the T4G conference in Louisville and had a great conversation with him. He is a gifted writer and a strong defender of the Reformed position.

Read this post, you'll be glad that you did.

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A Picture Pro-Abortionists Don't Want You To See

Her name is Amillia Sonja Taylor.

Her story:

A premature baby that doctors say spent less time in the womb than any other surviving infant is scheduled for release from a South Florida hospital Tuesday.

Amillia Sonja Taylor was just 9 1/2 inches long and weighed less than 10 ounces when she was born Oct. 24. She was delivered after just under 22 weeks of pregnancy; full-term births come after 37 to 40 weeks.

Neonatologists who cared for Amillia say she is the first baby known to survive after a gestation period of fewer than 23 weeks.

"We weren't too optimistic," Dr. William Smalling said Monday. "But she proved us all wrong."
Continue reading HERE.

At the time of her birth, Amillia would have been a candidate for legalized abortion.


Does Evangelism Still Work?

Greg Stier considers the possibility that our methods have drowned out our message:

Evangelism doesn’t work anymore. Maybe the culture is too sophisticated for it, especially teenagers. Perhaps it’s that this technologically connected generation of young people is totally disconnected from an ancient message that, at first glance, seems absolutely irrelevant to their lifestyles.

How can such a seemingly dated message compete with instant messaging? How can amazing grace compete with The Amazing Race? The old rugged cross pales in comparison to a shiny new Xbox. In a world of MySpace, Plasma TVs and iTunes how can a 2,000 year old message from a Middle Eastern carpenter be expected to compete?

Maybe we should just keep our mouths shut and forget about the whole evangelism thing. Perhaps we should just incarnate the gospel and hope in quiet desperation that somebody sees a difference in us and takes time out of their meeting-packed day to ask us about Jesus. Maybe St. Francis was right, “Preach the gospel, if necessary use words.”

Or maybe, just maybe, evangelism doesn’t work anymore because we have lost our faith in the power of the gospel message.

As I travel the nation I see Christians, especially adults, who have lost their faith in the simple gospel message to truly transform lives. Most sing about its power on Sunday morning but don’t carry that melodic confidence into the workplace on Monday.

What’s the result of our failure to proclaim Jesus with our lives and our lips? America is falling apart morally. That’s right, I place the blame for America’s demise at our feet. We are keeping the cure to the cultural cancer of sin locked away in our hearts.

If we somehow discovered the cure to the real disease of cancer we’d share it with everyone wouldn’t we? We’d “force our beliefs” on cancer victims out of love. We’d do our darndest to get them to accept the cure. We wouldn’t just say, “I’ll just live out the cure and hope that cancer victims see the cure in me.”

Well guess what? Those around us who don’t know Jesus have something infinitely worse than cancer and are headed somewhere infinitely worse than death. And we have the cure. Yet the average Christian has never shared the cure with their closest friends, coworkers and neighbors.But I refuse to be discouraged. Let me tell you why...
Continue reading HERE.

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Are Baptist Associations and Conventions Endangered Species?

Mike Day, the Director of Missions for the Mid-South Baptist Association (SBC) thinks so:

“A new paradigm is on the horizon,” Day told those attending the “Baptist Identity II” conference at Union University Feb. 15. “It is not a fully developed paradigm. It is at the stage where it is embraced by a few, touted by a few, and discussed and dismissed by the many. But it is emerging.”
The article continues:

Day called for associations to quit directing church programs. He called for associations to turn control of all properties and programs over to local churches. Instead, he says they should exist only to help support what churches are doing.

He also suggested associations be organized regionally in a manner that would eventually allow for state conventions to morph into these new supplementary regional associations.

Day said associations and state conventions were never established to be superior to local churches, but that is how they operate today. And as associations and conventions have lost influence, so too have local churches.

“[Southern Baptists] will proclaim autonomy as sacred and necessary,” Day said. “Yet we behave sometimes like we require the approval of others or we behave as if we have the right to approve. It’s an implied hierarchy, for sure. We won’t ever admit that it exists.”

Because of that, Day says, services are duplicated at the church and associational levels, churches lose influence, funding structures become more bureaucratic, and mission dollars get stretched even thinner.

“Now, some of you are wondering what in the world am I eating, what am I smoking?” Day joked. “I know what the SBC has been saying and I know about the massive restructuring in 1995. I know we say the focus is on the local church.”

“But my question is, has the church gotten that message? Does the church realize that is what we’re about? I would say based on the predicament we are in, it has not heard the message, or we have not done a good enough job communicating it clearly.”

And according to Day, that must be changed. The new paradigm must be church-driven, priority-based, resource-focused, strategically managed and regionally oriented.

Read the remainder of the article HERE.

I am beginning to wonder about the future of my own association (the GARBC). It seems my association is intent on replacing confessional unity with a kind of anti-reformed doctrinal uniformity. According to THIS ARTICLE, it seems the GARBC is purposely ostracizing all who would hold to any form of 'limited atonement' or 'historic premillennialism.'

What are the implications of the GARBC's anti-reformed doctrinal uniformity? Charles Spurgeon, B. B. Warfield, and John Bunyan would not be welcome in my association.

Makes me wonder if I am welcome in my own association.

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Is a Film Christian if There is No Christ?

Kevin Jackson, of the Christian Post, addresses the question:

What exactly makes a Christian film?

That was one of the questions addressed during two seminars at the National Religious Broadcasters’ (NRB) National Convention, the largest nationally and internationally recognized event dedicated solely to assist those in the field of Christian communications.

The two seminars at this weekend’s annual event also discussed how film is involved in Christianity and how films are supposed to impact society.

The speakers at each of the sessions had fairly opposite takes on what needs to be in a Christian film and whether a film is Christian if it does not talk specifically about Christ.

“I became a Christian, because I heard about Jesus Christ,” explained Dave Christiano, producer of the first ever primetime Christian drama series. “It’s not a Christian film if you don’t have Christ.”

The point of the first seminar speakers - which included Christian filmmakers and twin brothers Dave and Rich Christiano and Facing the Giants director Alex Kendrick - is that movie makers are creating media that is taking out Jesus Christ and replacing him for good morals. It is not good morals that save people, however, but Jesus’ name.

“You have things coming into the church and bookstores that are just making things lukewarm,” said Rich Christiano. “I think God would prefer movies to be either Christ movies or porn movies. Let’s separate them, hot or cold.”

People have criticized overtly “preachy” films in the past, saying that they do not reach a large audience, and that they only target churches who are already Christians.

Continue reading HERE.

So, in your opinion, what makes a film 'Christian?'

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Monday, February 19

Breaking News: Unity or Compromise?

The Times' Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent, reports that there may be a move by Anglicans in the UK to reunite with Roman Catholics under the Pope. The Times states:

Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches,

Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under
the Pope.

The statement, leaked to The Times, is being considered by the Vatican, where Catholic bishops are preparing a formal response.

It comes as the archbishops who lead the 38 provinces of the Anglican
Communion meet in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in an attempt to avoid schism over
gay ordination and other liberal doctrines that have taken hold in parts of the
Western Church.

What do Reformed Christians or Christians otherwise say about this development?

Also, see Albert Mohler's thoughts, "Canterbury and Rome to Merge?"

Soli Deo Gloria

(HT: Andrian Warnock)

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Hobby Horses that are Quickly Dying in Fundamentalism

Unashamedly, I call myself a fundamentalist. Though I am careful to separate myself from hysteric fundamentalists, I still firmly believe that being a fundamentalist means something and historically has always defended the precious fundamentals of the faith that we hold as our prized possessions.

There are though some troubling hobby horses that hysteric fundamentalists just will not let go of and it is costing their movement dearly. They can talk about all of their numbers all they want to, but the main problem that stems from an adherence to faulty theology still remains within hysteric fundamentalism. I’ll give some of my own observations of the hobby horses that they still cling to as if they were orthodox doctrine:

1. KJV onlyism – This is a relatively new hobby horse that picked up momentum in the early nineties as many IFBx people began to buy into the unbiblical fallacy of preservation equaling inspiration. In the past fifteen years or so we have seen churches add “King James Bible” to their church signs in an attempt to show to others their loyalty to a particular translation. Of course, this ridiculous position has been debunked many times over and the loyalists to this particular position simply refuse to see the error of the silliness of KJVonlyism.

2. Unbiblical and Unreasonable “Standards” – It would be a great idea for our IFBx brethren to stop allowing the 1950’s decide the standard for modesty and propriety and start letting the Scripture dictate our agendas regarding modesty.

3. Shallow and non-biblical Preaching – Today we are seeing a countless numbers of young fundamentalists turning away from the emotional pep rallies that characterized much of the “special” services in IFBxdom and are finding that the Word of God when broken down correctly has a power that no personality or preaching style can compare to. I encourage you to listen to some these sermons here and tell me whether or not you would want your young people listening to this type of nonsense on a daily basis while in college.

4. A Loyalty to Methods – Not Biblical Fruit – How many of us have gotten our “last” issue from the “Church Bus News” only to be reminded month after month that they simply will not take us off of the mailing list. One of the latest issues that I got in the mail (and I have no idea why I am no their mailing list) had the editor doing nothing but talking about the “old paths” of fundamentalism and the men who were responsible for keeping those “old paths”. If I was a bus director who paid for this subscription, I would have been furious that the editor said nothing of any substance regarding the bus ministry but everything regarding loyalty to man and methods. More and more people are seeing that being loyal to methods and not biblical evangelism has cost fundamentalism dearly! We have paid the price with masses of false professions who have shown zero biblical fruit. Sad….very sad.

There are more I’m sure but that is what comes to mind for now. Praise God for a new generation of young fundamentalists who see the value of expository preaching, biblical evangelism, a rational view of biblical preservation, and a loyalty to treasuring Christ, and not man made methods.

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Ken Fields - the Celebrity!

So I sit down this morning after my time in the Word to read the morning newspaper and lo behold who's face do I see? The one and only Pastor Kenneth Fields from Delhi Baptist Church on the front page of the Alton Telegraph. He has officially become "Mr. Big Time" (That is Kenneth in the middle in case you are wondering). He would also be happy to sign a copy of the photo for you if you would like.

Here is a link to the article
. In all seriousness, this shows that our churches can become effective in our communities through involvement. This is something that is seriously lacking in many fundamental churches. Yet, with our involvement we need to be cautious about compromise and unhealthy unions with those who can compromise the integrity of the church. Hats off to Delhi Baptist Church for having a strong impact on the community of Jerseyville!!!

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Sunday, February 18

To Be or Not To Be A Church Member?, that is the Question!

In a day and age where most Christians live in a world with commitment-phobia it is refreshing to know that there are those who are still standing for the BIBLICAL mandate that we have for church membership. Wayne Mack in a short book which I believe should be read by every church leadership team gives an outstanding defense for the biblical mandate for teaching the importance of church membership. If you are struggling with the teaching of church membership in your church or if you are wondering as to whether or not you have a Scriptural basis for teaching church membership then I would suggest that you get this book and perhaps even teach some of its principles.

Mack lays out several reasons for joining a local church:

1. The “one another” commands of Scripture – Mack points out clearly that it is simply not possible to live out the 58 different “one another” commands of the New Testament without being a part of the visible (local) church.
2. Biblical Responsibility to Eldership – We simply cannot “imitate” the faith of the eldership in our churches in a biblical way without belonging to a local church (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
3. Clarification – Clearly, belonging to a local church shows a clear distinction between us and an unbelieving world.
4. Orderliness in the Church Requires It – In obedience to I Corinthians 14:40 being a member of a local church can provide a way for the eldership of the local church to provide watch over the souls of the sheep and to discipline properly.
5. Making it Public – When a person becomes a member of a local church their faith in Christ now becomes a public affair.
6. Ministry Responsibilities – It is God’s will that EVERY believer be equipped to serve for the glory of Christ and one of the best and beneficial ways to do this is through the conduit of membership.
7. Ministry Privileges – Most churches will not let you teach a class or serve in a position of leadership without being a member (and rightly so!). How important is it to you that you use your gifts in a local church? Does it bother you if you are gifted and you are not teaching or serving or limiting yourself due to a lack of commitment?
8. Accountability – Both leaders and members can hold you accountable in a more effective way when you are a member of a local church.
9. Decisions about Time and Resources – It is the members of a church that help the leadership of the church to make difficult decisions regarding their time and resources.
10. Several Biblical Passages – Mack points out the fact that the authority of Jesus Christ is manifest when someone submits themselves to the authority of a local church.

This is a small book (about 75 pages) which will only take you a couple of hours to read and should be in EVERY church library and pastor’s office. I pray by God’s grace that we would continue to encourage people to understand that church membership is a biblical matter and one that deals with whether one is willing to submit themselves to the authority of the church of Jesus Christ.

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The Associated Press Profiles Driscoll's Mars Hill Church

From the Christian Post:

Minutes before the pastor walks to the pulpit, loud indie rock blasts from speakers to a crowd of mostly 20-somethings. The band on stage wears black, and the lead singer, with his scruffy five o'clock shadow and hair slicked down in rock-star style, croons about Emmanuel and rejoicing.

Welcome to Sunday service at Mars Hill Church, where the worship band plays indie rock, churchgoers smoke outside, and the pastor looks more like the head of a fraternity than the head of an evangelical church.

In a liberal city notorious for being "unchurched," and at a time when mainline Protestant churches have been in decline nationwide, this non-denominational mega-church has grown to about 6,000 people since it started in 1996. It's a mostly young crowd who come to hear the music, charismatic preacher and conservative theology at Mars Hill.

With his football-player stature, clean-cut hair and jeans torn at the knees, 36-year-old pastor Mark Driscoll could easily fit into most Seattle bars.

And he sounds like it too.

His sermons refer to everything from Mac & Jack's beer to women foiling their hair.

"Boaz has no game at all," said Driscoll at one Sunday sermon, referring to a Biblical figure who was unresponsive to his wife, Ruth, when they first met.

"The way we do things has a very Seattle vibe to it, from technology, music to style," said Driscoll, a Seattle native.

Driscoll preaches at the church's flagship black warehouse in the trendy Ballard neighborhood, but people can also watch him preach through streaming video and read his blog on the church's web site.

For members like Joy Pinkham, Driscoll's teachings are culturally relevant.

"He teaches what the Bible preaches - he doesn't sugar coat it," said 21-year-old Pinkham, a preschool teaching assistant and hair stylist, who wore a mod bob with side-swept bangs.

Continue reading HERE.

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An Open Theist's Defense of Dispensationalism

Jason Robertson writes:

Bob Enyart is a Dispensationalist and an open theist. Recently Bob interviewed Gary Demar and was debated by our own Gene Cook, Jr. Open theist believe the God described in the Bible is the most powerful, most knowing, most loving, and most unchanging in his nature, but not omni-everything.

Open-theists believe the concepts of omnipresence and immutability do not stem from the Bible. They believe that in scripture, God changed his mind and plans, voluntarily limited Himself in power, was surprised by events on Earth, was hurt, and paid attention to the pleas of men and angels. According to this view, God's foreknowledge is exhaustive. Notice Enyart's open theism rears its ugly head in the quote below as he defends his dispensationalism:
Who was Cut Off in Romans 11? The Apostle Paul explains in Romans 11:15-30 that Israel was cut off for unbelief, and yet, that God is able to graft them back in again, and He will, when the fullness of the Gentiles (the Body of Christ) comes in! Demar says that Romans 11 teaches the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise that salvation would come to the Gentiles, however what he misses is that God's hope was to bring salvation to the Gentiles through national Israel! However, since they rejected their Messiah, God brought salvation to the Gentiles in spite of Israel, for the Gentiles "have now obtained mercy through their [Israel's] disobedience," and "their [Israel's] being cast away is the reconciling of the world!"
Bob's dispensational interpretation of Matthew 24 is used to support his open theism. Bob believes dispensationalism requires open theism to make sense as a system of theology... why else would God keep changing His focus from Gentiles to Israel to Gentiles to finally Israel again.
He also tries to prove that open theism best supports the dispensational view that Jesus was wrong in his Matthew 24:34 prediction and Jesus' "lack of knowledge" in Matthew 24:36.

Now I know that dispensationalists are not all open theist or vise versa. But I thought it was important to put this heretical view into the record of erroneous teachings to watch out for in our generation.
I ask the following question sincerely ... not disingenuously (read: I am not trying to be a smart alack!):
Is Bob Enyart's dispensationalism a coincidence, or does dispensationalism tend toward an open view of God?

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Saturday, February 17

The Baseball “Experts” Need to Get a Clue

It is that time of year again. As Americans make the transition from the football season to the baseball season the “pundits” have come out once again to display their total lack of any kind of baseball knowledge regarding who is going to win and who is not going to win in 2007. Take a look at this ridiculous prediction that one writer made here. Much to their dismay, they have totally discounted any chance for the 2007 Chicago Cubs to do anything this year. To that I say – NONSENSE!!!

Just in case they missed it, the Cubbies have spent an astounding $300 million on top of the line free agents this past offseason. Yet, the writers still are picking the St. Louis Cardinals to win the NL Central again with a starting rotation that has been totally decimated by free agency. With the likes of Ted Lilly, Alfonso Soriano, Mark DeRosa, Cliff Floyd, and Jason Marquis look for the Cubs to be a juggernaut to be reckoned with in 2007. I’m glad that the prognosticators have given the Cubs even more motivation to stick it to the rest of the baseball world by going out and proving them wrong.

This should be a fun summer of quality baseball on the north side of Chicago. With a healthy Derek Lee and the intensity of new manager Lou Piniella, things could not be looking better. This should be a season to remember.

NOTE: Why do I have the feeling that come October I will regret posting this???

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