Thursday, May 31

Liberty University To Host Purpose Driven Church Planting Conference

Intriguing information from Rick Warren's latest Pastor's Toolbox newsletter:

PD Church Planting conferences coming to Liberty University (June 19 & 20) - Don't miss an upcoming Purpose Driven Church Planting conference in Lynchburg, Va. It's only $15 a person. The conference will take you from the drawing board to the production of an actual weekend service. Most importantly, you'll learn these principles from experienced church planting veterans.
Evidently Liberty U and Ergun Caner support the aberrant seeker and purpose-driven ecclesiastical movements.

Could this be the inevitable result of Arminian leanings within the Liberty camp?

More information regarding the LU Purpose-Driven Planting conference is available HERE.

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Wednesday, May 30

Why I Left Dispensationalism: A Testimony


While some may view my willingness to highlight the following article as a slam against dispensationalism, it is not. My own struggle with dispensationalism is well documented in this blog's early days -- a struggle that continues to this day.

What follows is a well-balanced and informed testimony of one man's search for hermeneutical truth. Perhaps it would do us well to check our presuppositions at the door and consider these biblical texts without the aid of Darby, Chafer, Scofield, or Ryrie.

Here is James Grant's story:

I grew up a dispensationalist, which meant I was taught a pre-tribulational rapture, a seven year tribulation period, then a thousand year millennium. This was hard to break out of when I was a teenager. I remember being afraid to actually tell someone that I thought the “rapture” [as it was taught] didn’t have a Biblical basis.

One of the passages that closed the door on dispensationalism was 2 Thessalonians 2. This is surprising because it is a passage used by them to argue for their position, but the text will not bear the weight of a two-fold “coming” of Christ.

Notice that Paul begins by talking about the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This coming is described as “our being gathered together to him.” Paul is clearly talking to Christians [he calls them brothers in the next phrase], and he is talking about when Jesus comes to gather his people.

Evidently the Thessalonians were worried about missing this great event because Paul says, “do not be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the lord has come” (v. 2). They thought that they had been left behind!!!

Of course Paul tells them not to worry because they haven’t been left behind. Paul’s reason for telling them not to worry is found in verse 3: “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.” Paul is saying to Christians that they need not worry because they have not missed the “coming of the Lord.” Two things have to happen first: a rebellion and the revealing of the man of lawlessness. The precise nature of these two “signs” is not the point. The point is that these two things have to happen before Christians are gathered together to Jesus.

Continue reading HERE.

[HT: Justin Taylor]

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Authority In the Church

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning,for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
No one likes to talk about authority, especially spiritual authority.

First, because of our culture. Our culture is a self-centered, self-reliant, self-governing, self-determining and rights-oriented culture. We don’t like anyone telling us what to do. Like the teenager who says to his or her parents, “I can’t wait to grow up so no one can tell me what to do!” We are a culture that struggles mightily with the idea of authority. Autonomy is king. So when we come to passages in the Bible that talk about authority there is a natural, cultural, knee-jerk reaction to say, “I don’t like this. I’m not sure I can agree to this. This rubs me the wrong way.”

Second, because of experience. All of us know someone, maybe yourself, who was greatly hurt and taken advantage of by a pastor who abused their authority and misused and abused Hebrews 13:17. So anytime this verse is brought up we become very nervous.

Third, because of questionable motives. Those who typically preach or teach on this passage are pastors. It can be awkward and difficult to stand up and say, “Obey and submit to me!” It can easily come across as self-serving.

To those concerns I say this: If a pastor won’t preach on this text, who will? It is in the Bible and therefore pastors are obligated to preach it and teach it. The abuse and misuse of pastoral authority only gives us greater reason to deal with this text. Spousal abuse does not nullify biblical submission, it makes teaching and preaching on submission and leadership more important!

COMMANDS FOR CHURCH MEMBERS

There are two commands given to church members. In a very straightforward manner the writer of the book of Hebrews says, "Obey and submit to your pastors." Obey comes from a Greek word that can be translated “to be persuaded, to be won over, to trust, to rely on.” The obedience here is resulting from persuasion. It is a direct result of trust. This Greek verb is also in the passive tense giving the idea of allowing yourself to be persuaded or won over. This is an attitude of being willing to be persuaded by your pastors because you trust them. Submit means “to yield under, to give up”.

Maybe the more difficult thing to understand is who to obey. “Those who rule over” is one Greek word that is translated this way three times in Hebrews 13 (7, 17, 24). In verse 7 these "rulers/governors/leaders” are those who have been our teachers and our examples. In verse 17 they keep watch over us and give account for us. In verse 24 they are a separate group from the saints. It would seem clear from these three verses that those who lead, teach, watch, give account, and exemplify Christian faith are pastors.

This is reinforced in the Pastoral Epistles where Paul teaches that these very things are the responsibilities of the pastor.

These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:11-12 (NKJ)

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5 (NKJ)

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5:17 (NKJ)

Obedience to human authority is found throughout the Scripture. Jesus taught obedience to human authority in Matthew 22:21. Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit also taught obedience to human government in Romans 13:1-7. Paul teaches that all authority is God-given and to resist authority is to resist God. Wives are to be subject to their husband as he is the head just as the Church is subject to Christ as He is the Head (Ephesians 5:22-24). Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1). Servants/employees are to obey their masters/employers (Ephesians 6:5).

What does it mean for you to obey and submit to your pastors? Does it mean you do whatever they say? Is this some type of Jim Jones/David Koresh type of cultic obedience?

John Piper gives this definition: “Have a bent toward trusting your pastors; have a disposition to be supportive in your attitudes and actions toward their goals and directions; want to imitate their faith; have a happy inclination to comply with their instructions.”

This does not mean do anything they say. This does not mean following them into sin. You should always disobey any authority that commands, demands, or asks you to sin! We always obey and submit “as to the Lord”. Our foremost responsibility is always to God and His Word.

RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PASTORS

Although this passage is written to church members it also has great application to pastors. Pastors keep watch over you. This means “to be sleepless, to keep awake.” In the other three uses in the New Testament it is connected with praying as Jesus in Mark 13:33 commanded the disciples to “watch and pray”. This is talking about being watchful for spiritual health and growth; concern for spiritual things. A pastor's are primary concern is spiritual. Not just for salvation, but for sanctification. This watchful concern as your spiritual shepherd will motivate them to follow all the biblical exhortations to Christ-like, loving leadership.

Pastors, because of their position of authority, have responsibility for the spiritual condition of the members of their church. This verse assumes that they are watching over in love. It assumes that pastors have members best interests at heart. The pastor is literally a shepherd. He is emulate Christ as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NKJ)
Shepherding and leading do not nullify one another. It is not an either/or proposition. It is a both/and command. Christlike, humble service does not nullify leadership; it describes leadership. Pastors are not to be dictators. They are not to “lord” over those God has given them to shepherd. They are to lead for the benefit of the sheep. Not for personal gain or glory, but with eternity in mind.

Pastors are accountable for you. This accounting is “an accounting that one gives by mouth – verbal, to answer for, reckoning.” Because of their God-given authority, pastors will be held accountable for your spiritual condition. This is a tremendously heavy and serious burden to bear. This is weighty. Every pastor will stand before God some day and answer these kinds of questions. “What did you teach? How did you live? What steps did you take to bring about spiritual transformation?”

MOTIVATIONS FOR OBEDIENCE

“Let them do so with joy and not with grief,” What does the “do so” refer to? I believe it can refer to two things. First the writer could be saying, “Let them [watch over you[ with joy and not with grief.” This would be the motivation of joyful ministry. If church members obey and submit to pastors in this way there will be great joy in the ministry. Not only for the pastors, but also for the members. There are church members who add to a pastors joy and there are those who sap a pastors joy. Because of an attitude of rebellion and an unwillingness to follow they are continually adding to the burden of ministry.

Secondly the writer could be saying, “Let them [give account for you] with joy and not with grief.” This is the motivation of joyful accounting. When your pastor stands before God will his accounting for you be joyful? Will he be happy to give account for you or will he do so with grief. "I exhorted and confronted out of love and they refused to submit. They constantly fought me on every issue - corporately and personally."

I don’t think it has to be choice between the two options. We can look at it and apply it both ways. Who is most affected if it is grievous? You! This would be “unprofitable for you”. You would be the one that loses reward.

Maybe you are still hesitant to obey and submit to pastors. Maybe you have been burned by ungodly dictatorial leadership in the past. You ask, “What can I do if a pastor is ungodly? What do I do if he is dictatorial or unbiblical in his leadership?”

God answers:

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. 1 Tim. 5:19-20
The biblical pattern must be followed. Pastors are not perfect. If a pastor is in sin he needs to be confronted and repent and seek reconciliation. Pastors are not above rebuke.

You ask, “What do we do if the pastor does not repent and seek reconciliation?”

Church discipline continues and if he still refuses to repent and reconcile he is to be removed from the church. Not only do pastors have authority, but in a congregational form of church polity, the congregation also has authority.

The congregation is the one who recognizes the call of God on an individual’s life and ordains a man to pastoral ministry. The congregation has the authority in calling the pastor. The congregation has the authority to remove a pastor. No pastor in a congregational church has the right to that position of authority unless the congregation calls him to be so.

Where there is godly, Christ-like, biblical leadership most church members are happy to follow. And as long as there is no sin issue, church members are commanded to follow their pastors leadership. May we be obedient to the authority that God has given us!

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Kabbalah -- Hollywood's Latest Religious Craze: What You and Your Young People Need to Know

If you are wondering where I've been over the past few weeks, here is evidence I am still alive and kicking!

I've been researching and writing four lesson commentaries for a Regular Baptist Press Sunday School curriculum on Cults and World Religions. Because I am lacking in my understanding of these topics, the assignment has required a vast amount of time in research and development!

My first lesson is now complete (I think); and because Kabbalah is one of the fastest-growing trends among the Hollywood elites, our young people have not only heard of it, they are most likely acquainted with some of its teachings. Therefore, it would do us (in the older generation) well to have a working knowledge of this growing and dangerous mystical, new age Judaism.

NOTE: Because the entire lesson exceeds 3,000 words, I will post this in three parts. And feel free to make additions, corrections, deletions, or suggestions--I don't claim to know it all when it comes to Cults and World Religions!
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KABBALAH: A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

Kabbalah (a form of Jewish mysticism) is rapidly becoming a popular and trendy choice among America’s elites. This growing medieval religion has attracted celebrities such as Roseanne Barr, Naomi Campbell, Jeff Goldblum, Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger, Madonna, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Taylor and Britney Spears.[1] Because many of the religion’s adherents are well-known public figures, Kabbalah is growing in popularity with America’s young people. Therefore, it is vital that Christian young people are aware of its Gnostic and dualistic views—views that contradict God’s Word and demean His glory as the Creator and Redeemer of mankind.

I. A KABBALAH PRIMER:

Kabbalah[2] is a form of Jewish mysticism with ancient roots that took shape in the medieval period and that has been revived in contemporary popular forms. “Kabbalah is a body of mystical and esoteric beliefs based on commentaries of the Torah, the first give books of Hebrew Scripture (Genesis to Deuteronomy). The term kabbalah comes from a Hebrew root word, kbl, which means ‘to receive.’”[3]

Kabbalah is often referred to as a “concealed wisdom” kept secret for centuries but now being revealed in an attempt to achieve unity with God. As it is practiced today, Kabbalah “discusses angels and demons, souls’ journeys after death, reincarnation, resurrection, and the goal of achieving messianic consciousness….”[4]

It would be helpful to understand that although Kabbalah is a form of Judaism, it differs greatly from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. While Orthodox Jews believe the Divine Law (as given to Moses on Mount Sinai) is immutable and binding for all times, and that the Old Testament is inspired (although greater authority is given to the Torah (Law), the first five books, than to the rest), Kabbalah would never make such a claim. Kabbalah adheres to traditional Judaism’s dietary laws, but views the Torah as a source of ethics which guides personal decision-making.[5]

Many scholars have traced Kabbalah to a first century form of Jewish mysticism called Merkabah, which involved speculations on God’s throne and how to reach it through inner human experience.[6] Merkabah produced texts containing two ideas that would later be developed in Kabbalah religion: numerical value and significance of the Hebrew alphabet, and the ten sefiroth. In the 12th century, a Kabbalah text emerged in south France entitled “Book of Brightness.” This text contained the key tenets of the movement, and was instrumental in Kabbalah spreading to Spain in the 1200’s. This new school of religious thought flourished in Spain, though it was not welcomed by traditional rabbinic authorities. A kabbalist named Moses de Leon, over a period of 30 years, produced writings he attributed to a 2nd century rabbi, Simon bar Yochai. The collection came to be known as Sefer ha-zohar (Book of Splendor), known as Zohar—a foundational text and mystical commentary on the first five books of Moses.[7] The most significant pre-modern expression of Kabbalah came from Isaac ben Solomon Luria (1534-1572), whose school was centered in Safed (modern Zefat in Israel) and whose ideas were recorded by followers.

Recently, interest in Kabbalah has been revived, due in large part to Gershom Scholem, professor of Jewish mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prior to Scholem, Rabbi Abraham Kook (1865-1935) was the primary promoter of Kabbalah, and his writings seemed to initiate the movement’s resurgence.

Today, the influential Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles is the center of the movement in America. Rabbi Philip Berg oversees the Centre, while his sons, Rabbi Yehuda Berg and Rabbi Michael Berg have been instrumental in propagating the Kabbalist mysticism through numerous articles and books. The Kabbalah Centre has 50 locations around the world, and has published millions of books in 20 languages.

II. WHAT KABBALISTS BELIEVE:

Kabbalah doctrine is difficult to decipher because of its roots in mysticism (mysticism is the belief that one can achieve direct consciousness of God or truth through meditation and intuition in an attempt to merge with a god or the ultimate source), and its highly complex and divergent interpretations. Yet there are several key and foundational doctrines which serve to guide the movement as a whole.

1) Kabbalah’s view of God: God is the Ein Sof (That Which Is Without Limit), and is unknowable and inaccessible to man. Because this god is unknowable, he chose to reveal his attributes through the Tree of Life, which represents his 10 emanations (commonly referred to as the Sefirot). This god’s light flows downward to man through this tree and through the Shekhinah, the divine feminine aspect of God.[8] Kabbalists spiritually ascend through this descending light to realize unity with the divine (salvation). “Ein Sof pervades all creation, so that even a stone has divinity; all existence is pervaded by Deity.”[9]

To summarize, according to Kabbalah, God is not a personal being. He is both unknowable and inaccessible, who has revealed himself through a mythical and magical Tree. Although this god is unknowable, all existence is pervaded by this Deity.

2) Kabbalah’s view of Man: Like many other false religions, Kabbalah teaches that man is divine and ultimately good. “Humans are vessels of Light, reconnecting with Light (an emanation of Ein Sof) through sharing.”[10] When mankind behaves ethically, God’s blessings flow to the world through the Tree of Life. On the other hand, evil actions disrupt the union of the sefirot and empower demonic activity.

Adam and Eve are viewed as symbols of male and female energy, and as a metaphor for the ‘Primordial Vessel’ whose existence came before creation, thus encompassing all the souls of humanity to come. The Presence of the Serpent, considered a fragmenting force, was necessary for creation; otherwise, all would have remained united with God. This gave man the opportunity to earn the Light on his own.[11]

Again, according to Kaballah, man is ultimately good. The problems in our world are attributed to evil forces rather than sinful men, thus negating the need for a Redeemer and Savior, and instituting a works-oriented religion that leaves God subservient to nature and man.


[1] Information derived from the paper “Kabbalah: History, Beliefs, and Practices”. Accessed online at http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/CTCR/Kabbalah.pdf. Accessed 5/17/07.

[2] Alternate spellings are: kabbala, kabala, cabala, cabbala, cabbalah, qabala, qabbala, or qabbalah.

[3] Marcia Montenegro, “Kabbalah: Getting Back to the Garden,” Christian Research Journal, Vol. 28, No. 2, p. 14.

[4] Ibid. Quoted by M. Montenegro from Yehuda Berg, The Power of the Kabbala (Kabbalah Centre International, 2001): xix, xxv, xxvi.

[6] Summary based on information in Christopher Partridge, ed., New Religions: A Guide—New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 111-115.

[7] Information derived from http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/CTCR/Kabbalah.pdf. Accessed online 5.17/07.

[8] Montenegro, 15.

[9] Montenegro, 17.

[10] Montenegro, 17, quoting Rav P. S. Berg, The Essential Zohar (New York: Bell Tower, Crown Publishing Group, 2002), 59, 246.

[11] Montenegro, 18-19.

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Tuesday, May 29

You Tube Tuesday: Creation Museum Highlights

I believe this is one of the most important Christian endeavors in recent history. It is Christianity on the offensive in a straightforward, honest, uncompromising and loving manner. When the secularists, humanists and atheists become this concerned about anything Christians are doing we know we are doing something right. When they are concerned about the effects of what we are teaching and consider what we are teaching as "dangerous", we know we are doing something right.

I also think that Ken Ham is doing a GREAT job of Christian presuppositional apologetics! You will want to check out THIS VIDEO from Good Morning America, and the following videos from You Tube.

Here is a clip from the protest against the museum.


Here is some debate on the The O'Reilly Factor.


Coverage from CNN.


The clip I've linked to before.

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Monday, May 28

Hysterical Fundamental Heresy Out of First Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana


Someone recently referred me to some clips of a recent message preached by Jack Schaap - Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana. Most here know that I spent several years of my life at this church and at Hyles-Anderson College. I've also blogged extensively about this experience and about the dangers of cultic anthropocentric ministries like this one.

Please do me a favor for the sake of discussion.....Listen to these clips here and honestly tell me if you do not see the following unbiblical conclusions:

  • Schaap believes that you can talk to the dead.
  • Schaap has embraced a mentality that desires for Hyles to be pleased with him more than God.
  • Schaap believes in an unbiblical assertion that one can actually transfer power from one person to the next.
  • Schaap wrongly applies Ephesians 4:1 to the shoes of Jack Hyles!!! (What!?!?)
  • Schaap associates full nurseries, baptistery waters, full altars and buses running to a healthy church.....Hmmm, that is not what I find as being a healthy New Testament Church.
  • Ultimately, Schaap's unhealthy view of Hyles has led him to embrace a style of preaching that is incredibly unbiblical and undeniably heretical.
Now, if you can listen to these clips and honestly say that you are not troubled by these unhealthy comments I would truly like to hear your Scriptural defense of that. This is exactly the kind of nonsense that drove me out of a movement like this one.

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Friday, May 25

Let's Play the Blame Game

My brother Dan pointed me to this story:

The father of Josh Hancock filed suit Thursday, claiming a restaurant provided drinks to the St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher even though he was intoxicated prior to the crash that killed him.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court by Dean Hancock of Tupelo, Miss., does not specify damages. Mike Shannon's Restaurant, owned by the longtime Cardinals broadcaster who starred on three World Series teams in the 1960s, is a defendant in the case along with Shannon's daughter, Patricia Shannon Van Matre, the restaurant manager.

Other defendants include Eddie's Towing, the company whose flatbed tow truck was struck by Hancock's sport utility vehicle in the early hours of April 29; tow truck driver Jacob Edward Hargrove; and Justin Tolar, the driver whose stalled car on Interstate 64 was being assisted by Hargrove.
The question is one of responsibility. Who's to blame for Josh Hancock's death?

It seems crystal clear that Josh Hancock himself bears the brunt of the responsibility. He chose to drink enough to have a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit. He chose to drive while drunk. He chose not to wear a seat belt. He chose to talk on his cell phone while driving drunk without his seat belt fastened. These were his choices and he is responsible for the consequences of his actions.

But, is anyone else to blame? Does anyone else bear any responsibility?

I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV, so this is just my uneducated opinion and the final judgment will be in the hands of our legal system, and ultimately God. If the bartender and the bar manager and the bar owner knew that Josh Hancock was drunk and continued to serve him alcohol and did nothing to stop him from getting into his own vehicle and driving, they bear some responsibility. As well as anyone else who was with him at the bar and did nothing to stop him. They might not be found guilty in court, but the court of the conscience is a far stricter judge.

But I have a question for Josh Hancock's family. Why so few defendants? Here are some more people you should consider adding to the suit:
  • Every beverage company that made any of the beverages that Josh drank that night. If they didn't make the alcohol, Josh would never have become drunk...But that might not be going far enough because he probably would have found another kind alcoholic beverage so you should sue every alcoholic beverage company and every retailer of alcoholic beverages. In fact you might think of suing the government for repealing Prohibition. If they had left the sale of alcoholic beverages as illegal I'm sure Josh would still be alive today.

  • Every bottling company that made the bottles that made the alcohol available. If the alcohol doesn't get packaged in those bottles...

  • Every shipping company and every driver that brought those beverages to the bar. If the drivers don't drive the trucks...

  • Every bartender that served Josh that night. If they don't serve him the drinks...

  • Every company that manufactured any of the three vehicles involved in the accident. If they don't make the vehicles...But that might not being going far enough because he could have bought a vehicle from another company, so let's sue every vehicle manufacturer for causing drunk driving deaths. If there was no driving there could be no drunk driving.

  • The dealerships and salesman who sold the vehicles that were involved.

  • The government for building the road that made the drunk driving death possible. If there is no road to drive on...

Feel free to add to the list.

I am sure that Josh Hancock's family is broken and grieving over his sudden and unexpected death. I can't even imagine the emotional pain they are going through. I am truly sorry for their loss and I don't want to come across as making light of this situation, because I'm not.

Many might think that Josh's family is just greedy and using his death for their own financial gain. That might be true, but I won't assume that as fact. We don't like to hold those we love responsible for their actions. We believe that finding someone else to blame and causing them them some pain, financial or otherwise, will make it easier to deal with the loss. It won't.

Maybe they are trying to deflect their own sense of guilt and responsibility. Did they know about his tendency to get drunk? Did they know that he drove while intoxicated? Had they raised him with the proper respect for alcohol? Had they taught him that drunkenness was a sin and that driving drunk was reprehensible? You see it would be easy for others to blame the parents, and usually in these situations the parents are blaming themselves, deserved or not. They might be hoping that court will make a legal judgment that someone else is responsible and in doing so might ease their own sense of guilt. It won't.

Death is a reality. Many times death seems avoidable and different choices might have led to different outcomes. But in the end we will all die.

What if Josh hadn't been drunk, hadn't been talking on his cell phone, and had been wearing his seat belt? What if the he had died in the same crash? Who do we blame then?

Although this wasn't an accident, accidents do happen (from the human perspective). People die unexpectedly, suddenly, tragically and sometimes there is no one to blame. That is where our trust in a totally sovereign God is key. The unsaved have no hope, no help and can make no sense of tragic circumstances, but the biblically educated believer can! We know that God is in control of all things! We trust his plan! We rest in his hand!

But too many times Christians respond like unbelievers. They blame and they sue and they respond out of a worldview that demonstrates belief in "accidents". A worldview that evidently has no sovereign God who is in total control.

When the world responds this way it is sad, but expected. When Christians do the same it is truly tragic.

TRUST HIS HEART
by Babbie Mason

All things work for our good
though sometimes we don’t see how they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two
sometimes blinded to the truth.

Our Father knows what best for us
his ways are not our own.
So when your pathway grows dim
and you just don’t see him
remember your never alone.
God is to wise to be mistaken
God is to good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand
when you don’t see his plan
when you can’t trace his hand
trust his heart.

He sees the master plan
and he holds our future in his hands.
So don’t live as those who have no hope
for our hope is found in him.

We see the presently clearly
but he see the first and the last
and like a tapestry he’s weaving you and me
to someday be just like him.

God is to wise to be mistaken
God is to good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand
when you don’t see his plan
when you can’t trace his hand
trust his heart.
He alone is faithful and true.
He alone knows what is best for you.

God is to wise to be mistaken.
God is to good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand
when you don’t see his plan
when you can’t trace his hand
trust his heart.

Trust his heart.

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Another Pastor Falls: How Do You Provide Accountability For Your Pastor?

Just this week I received the sad news of another pastor friend biting the proverbial dust. Pornography (among other things) had sunk its teeth deep into my friend's life, and it cost him dearly.

The old adage is so true: sin will take you further than you want to go; make you stay longer than you want to stay; and cost you more than you are willing to pay.

Another day ... another pastor has lost his way--and his ministry.

So what are you and your church doing to protect your pastor from being the next casualty? What safeguards have you set up to preserve his purity and his ministry?

John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church have developed an accountability questionnaire to aid pastors in their quest for personal purity and ministerial integrity. It's worth a quick look, and if your church provides no such accountability check for its pastor(s), out of love for them, their families, and the name of Christ, offer him/them THIS.

Pastors, let us remember that none of us is above any heinous sin (although the enemy seeks to convince us otherwise). Accountability then, is not a threat to us; it's evidence of God's protective grace. May He save us from being the enemy's next ministerial casualty.

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Thursday, May 24

The Language of a "Culture of Death"

The more I read about abortion the more I hear a specific use of euphemistic language that causes me to think of another "Culture of Death" and their use of euphemistic language. The Nazi regime did all it could to desensitize its own citizens to the horrors of their philosophy and its practical applications by coining new terms to mask unspeakable horrors. The abortionists are doing the same today and up until recently have been having great success at lulling our nation to sleep by renaming and redefining their horrific acts.

"Choice"

Old Definition = selection, option, alternative, preferred or preferable

New Definition = selecting which humans live and which humans die; preferred life


"Personal"

Old Definition = of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private

New Definition = of, pertaining to, or impacting another person or persons

"Viable"

Old Definition = capable or able to live and grow; having the ability to grow, expand, develop

New Definition = (of a fetus) having reached such a stage of development as to be capable of living, under normal conditions, outside the uterus

"Abort"

Old Definition = to fail, cease, or stop at an early or premature stage; to cause to cease or end at an early or premature stage

New Definition = to willfully stop or end the life of another human being usually unborn; kill; murder

"Imperative"

Old Definition = absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable

New Definition = safer option; lower risk; avoidable and not absolutely necessary

"Selected Reduction"

Old Definition = make a choice, pick out, single out in preference for the purpose of decreasing the total number

New Definition = to pick out which living humans you are going to murder based on any number of factors

Does this have any correlation to the Nazi's use of terms such as "final solution", "special treatment", "delousing van", "euthanasia", "genocide", "evacuation to the east" and "resettlement"? I believe the connection is crystal clear. We must not allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by this redefinition of terms and we need to be clear in our own communication as to exactly what is taking place. If we don't do this we might find ourselves in the very same place that so many Germans found themselves in the Post World War II era; trying to explain doing absolutely nothing while atrocities took place all around them.

Maybe it is already too late.

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Creation Museum Opens This Weekend

Check out THIS INTERVIEW of Ken Ham for more information on the opening of the Creation Museum. (If you aren't able to open that link, than go HERE.)

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Wednesday, May 23

Interesting Video Wednesday: Redneck Funeral

Tim Challies pointed this story out and I found it interesting. Jeff Foxworthy was asked to speak at a funeral and what he had to say was very intriguing.

Watch the entire news story HERE and get the background.

Then go ahead and watch all of Foxworthy's video message HERE.

Some of most interesting things Foxworthy says are said at the end and they are not found in the news story. It points out the difference between those confident in their eternal destiny and those who are unsure.

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Do You Overwork Your Pastor ... Or Do You Underwork Him?

Work.

I learned the meaning of this four-letter word at a young age--thanks to my father and mother. Work is a good thing, intended by God to promote our health and well-being, and a sense of purpose and accomplishment. It would also do us well to remember that God instituted work prior to the fall. Therefore, work is a good and profitable venture, intended by God to provide joy for man.

So when it comes to your pastor and his work, how much is too much? And how little is too little?

I recently stumbled upon Bethlehem Baptist Church's (Minneapolis) policy regarding the number of hours per week their pastors are expected to work. Here is what I found:

To encourage the practice of a Sabbath rest, quality time with family, and time for personal responsibilities and refreshment, the normal work schedule for each employee category is as follows:

1. Pastoral Staff:

Full-time pastoral staff will work approximately fifty (50) hours, six (6) days a week.

Part-time pastoral staff will work the number of hours and days agreed to at the time of hire or as subsequently approved. The number of hours will also be specified in the employee’s job description.

For all pastoral staff, all meetings and events which require their attendance by virtue of their ministry position shall be considered part of those hours. Bethlehem will also consider time spent in ministry during weekly worship services, Sunday school classes and small groups as a part of their work week. Our pastoral staff have opted to have their week divided up into modular units rather than tracking each hour worked. Each day has three (3) “mods” (morning, afternoon, evening), or twenty-one (21) weekly mods. Each pastor is expected to take off between seven (7) to ten (10) mods per week, including three (3) consecutive mods to fulfill the Sabbath principle. If a pastor’s work load causes him to work too many mods in any week, he is free to take additional mods off in the near future. When a pastor’s ministry takes him away from his family, his days off may be stored up and used either before or after his travel with the permission of his Lead Pastor. A pastor may choose to work beyond fourteen (14) mods, but will give careful account of his personal, marriage, and family well-being to his Lead Pastor. The Lead Pastor may grant paid time off at his discretion. The amount of time a pastor spends in his office at the church is determined by the nature of his ministry in consultation with his Lead Pastor.
Is 50 hours/week too many? Should pastors spend an eight-hour day in the office, and then another two hours in evening meetings? Or should pastors use the "mod" principle?

Pastors should work hard, and enjoy their hard work. But pastors should not overwork ... and allow the ministry to become a detriment to their families or their own physical and spiritual wellbeing.

May we pastors be known for our hard work!

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Media Coverage of Jerry Falwell's Funeral

It should come as no surprise to any that I am NOT a fan of the American media (for the most part). And with Jerry Falwell's funeral being yesterday I wanted to be sure to see how the mainstream media (who overwhelmingly disdained Falwell) would cover his funeral. I made it a point yesterday evening while working out to see how much time the networks would give to this event. The two networks that I saw during the evening news (CBS & NBC) spent a whopping 20 seconds covering the funeral services yesterday!!!

Now, why on earth does this make any difference at all to me? After all, shouldn't it come as no surprise that the media had no love loss for Falwell? What this was to me is a sad reminder of what stimulates our culture today. For instance, many of us remember a couple of months ago the incredibly annoying coverage that the cable news networks gave to Anne Nichole Smith's death. Smith, who really represented everything that is wrong with American culture today captivated the media's attention with her death and in turn annoyed many Americans who really wanted to know what was really going on in the world.

Almost all who read this blog will know that we vehemently disagreed with Jerry Falwell's contentious views towards the doctrines of grace. However, let me just go on record and say that I counted Dr. Falwell as a brother in Christ who loved the Lord, his wife, children, friends, church family and his country (another area where I disagreed with his involvement yet admired his commitment). Though I had never met him I would venture to say that I had gotten more mail from him than any other organization. The old saying went - "If you got on Jerry Falwell's mailing list you would NEVER be lonely again."

The bottom line is this, Falwell's impact on this culture for the good deserves more attention by our incredibly negative and hostile media. Whether they want to accept it or not, Falwell's impact had enormous implications both in the political and spiritual realm. He was a force to be reckoned with who was one of the more unique visionaries of our day. It is sad that our culture today would rather hear about the tawdry details of Anna Nichole Smith's life than to be informed about those who actually lived for Christ!

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Tuesday, May 22

Becoming a "Culture of Death"

Ken is gone! Let the celebration begin!

It is really sad that it takes my brother going on vacation to get me back to writing, but it is what it is. I could give you the numerous reasons I haven't posted anything in a while, but I won't bore you with the details. I know you will miss Ken, but I will try to do my part in retaining your readership until he returns.

I agree with the wise man who said, "Al Mohler is the brightest young mind in evangelicalism today." If you don't read his blog, you are missing out on the best cultural commentary available from a Christian worldview. His Monday post, "The Revenge of Conscience", is a must read!
Something noteworthy is happening in the mainstream media. First, The Los Angeles Times ran a story that, in all its horrible brutality, attempted to defend a couple's decision to kill selected fetuses in the woman's womb by means of what is euphemistically called "selective reduction." The article was chilling in its cold honesty and grotesque morality.

Then The New York Times runs a pair of articles [see
first and second] that deal honestly with the fact that babies are being aborted after a diagnosis of Down syndrome and other unwanted traits. As these reports indicate, 90 percent of babies identified through prenatal testing as likely to have Down syndrome are aborted. Furthermore, many ethicists and specialists refuse all efforts to draw any line at which traits are an acceptable basis for killing the fetus.

Now,
The Washington Post Magazine publishes an extensive report on the practice of "selective reductions," taking us into the practice of Dr. Mark Evans in Manhattan. This article is not for the faint-hearted. It is, nevertheless, one of the most important articles on the dignity of human life to appear in a very long time. Why? Because it forces us to face where we have now arrived as a culture --a culture fast becoming the Culture of Death.
Continue reading [HERE].

I must admit I am apathetic about all kinds of important issues. If I don't hear about them or read about them on a regular basis, I go about my day in blissful ignorance. That has certainly been the case for me concerning the abortion issue. But by God's grace Al Mohler has awakened me from my apathetic slumber. The more I read on current issues concerning abortion the more outraged and saddened I become about the moral confusion around me. This really hit home to me while watching Dr. Mohler on Larry King Live last week discussing the topic "Faith and Politics." [You can watch the video HERE.]

Near the end of the show a lady called in and asked this question. "For those who believe that having a non-religious or an atheist in the White House would somehow adversely affect the family or -- quote --"the sanctity of life," well, perhaps they should consider that we've a devout church-goer in the White House for the past six years who has responsible for over 3,000 young Americans being killed. How much worse could it be having an atheist or a non-religious in the White House?"

Morality turned on its head! "How much worse could it be?" How about the gruesome and graphic murder of between 85,000-1,200,000 helpless babies in the last year alone! When did it become acceptable to show great moral outrage at 3,422 soldiers dying in combat and not show great moral outrage at the premeditated murder of millions? These soldiers have volunteered. They are paid to fight. They know the risks. It is their choice. These deaths are tragic! They are awful! We pray for the war to end and for our soldiers to come home. But the comparison of soldiers dying in a war to the premeditated murder of babies is untenable and unthinkable!

These truly helpless babies have no choice. Yet they are being systematically and intentionally slaughtered all in the name of freedom and choice. It would seem that morality has died, but if you read the articles that Mohler cites you will realize that the conscience is alive and well and that despite saying otherwise America is in a moral dilemma over abortion and there is plenty of guilt going around.

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HELP WANTED: Bible Software Questions

I have never been a big user of Bible software. But the more I become dependent upon a computer the more I can see the feasibility of utilizing a tool like this. So....since I am a novice at this I would like some expert advice from those of you who are familiar with the different software programs out there.

Which ones are the most "user friendly"?

Which ones will not take up the most space on my computer (I have about 90 GB left on my hard drive)?

Which ones come with the best commentaries and Greek and Hebrew helps?

James White (who I hold in very high regard) recommends BibleWorks7. Though I do not doubt the fact that this tool is extremely helpful I do find the price to be a bit high for my liking.

So please....by all means give me a hand with this when you get the chance. I'm looking for a helpful tool that is both user friendly and inexpensive as well.

Thank you in advance!

Monday, May 21

Making Ministerial Orange Juice

Not sure what that title implies to you, but it's what life and ministry are becoming right now ... and I'm the orange!

Now before you get all teary-eyed for me, let me say this: I realize life gets this way for everybody this time of year. Graduations, weddings, vacations, picnics, and family gatherings all vie for our time, energy, and attention. Life is busy; yet many times busyness is a blessing. As the great theologian, Professor Harold Hill once quipped, "The idle mind is the devil's playground."

The next few weeks seem to be piling additional opportunities and responsibilities onto my familial and ministerial plate. We are taking our first-ever family vacation to the east coast in June. But before then, I am scheduled to speak at several special events, and have accepted a major writing assignment for a leading Baptist Sunday School publisher.

Therefore, in a feeble attempt to maintain what little sanity I have left, I am announcing my first official blog hiatus since its inception in December of 2005. My family and ministry priorities will push the blog to the back-burner. While I reserve the right to post anything at any time, our regular readers will see a marked drop-off in posts from me -- especially posts that require time to compose.

Perhaps my two long-lost blogmates will be able to pick up the slack (with some prodding from you all) ... but as for now, I'll be making orange juice!

POSTSCRIPT: During this time, I will be accepting guest blogger posts. So if you have written anything we might be interested in publishing, please email it to me (find the email button on my profile page).

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Friday, May 18

Grey Matters: Principles of Discernment

My youngest brother has directed my attention to an outstanding article by Eric Simmons of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The article addresses one of the most commonly asked questions among our own young people: "What about activities not directly addressed in God's Word? Can we? Should we? If not, why not? And if so, why?"

For far too long fundamentalists have made these decisions for their young people without teaching them how to practice biblical discernment [we have addressed these fundie tendencies HERE and HERE and HERE]. Doing so is not only undermines the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, it endangers our young people's spiritual health.

So, if you have young people who are asking these questions in your home or in your church, print off this article, and use it as a discussion starter. May God help us to disciple our young people in discernment rather than demand a fundamentalized version of superficial holiness!

Gray matters. We all deal with them ... those places in our lives where the line between "right" and "wrong" gets fuzzy. Or even disappears.

  • Is it OK just to fast-forward the sex scene and watch the rest of the movie?
  • Should I smoke a cigar with my unbelieving father?
  • How tight is too tight?
  • Can a Christian play poker?
  • Can I have a beer with dinner?

I can't tell you which movies to watch or what music to listen to. I can't give you a list of Do's and Don'ts. But together we can go to Scripture to cultivate discernment in the gray matters.

Principled Discernment

Hebrews 5:14 says, "Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."

Notice something in this passage: There's no mention of gray. There's good, and there's evil. And how do you tell the difference? Discernment. Just because something is fuzzy or unclear to us doesn't mean it's fuzzy or unclear to God.

If we're honest we'll all admit we need to grow in discernment. But how? Should we work on some giant checklist of Do's and Don'ts?

A few years ago I had a series of conversations with people in the church I have the joy to help pastor. When I would talk about gray matters with them, and ask them why they did or didn't do something, their response was often the same: "That's just my conviction." When I would challenge them about how they came to that conviction they usually didn't know. They had a "conviction" or practice that often wasn't rooted in Scripture.

Does Scripture address R-Rated movies? Music styles? Not directly. But God has provided principles in his Word to help us discern how to live, what to choose, and what to reject. We need principles from Scripture to inform how our practice of living.

So here are five principles for growing in discernment that have implications for our daily lives ...

Continue reading HERE.

And kudos to my youngest brother Dan, for the heads-up!

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Baptizing Regenerate Children

Last week we had a lively discussion as to whether or not someone was being obedient to the Lord if they had not followed Him in believer's baptism. This was an interesting discussion that ultimately drew the line in the sand as to what distinguishes credo-baptists and paedo-baptists. Just for the record, you probably remember the fact that Ken and I had a rather lively discussion about this. What I want to make known to you is this - whether it be a Cubs vs. cardinals debate, a baptism discussion, or as to who the Kansas Jayhawks will choke to in the next NCAA Tournament - Ken and I are close brothers in Christ and our lively debates on here in no way exhibit a tension in our close friendship. In many ways, we do this to simply enhance the discussion to spice it up a bit. However, from time to time we get some derelict on here who feels that they need to get personal with others and debate in a very un-Christlike manner. That is when we must pull the plug on them and push the good old "delete comment" button. It is rare that we do this but from time to time when it is necessary to uphold a productive atmosphere here on this blog (Philippians 4:8).

Here we go with another discussion on a subject that I sincerely doubt we will get a strong consensus on but I hope will develop into a productive conversation that will not only open some eyes here but also give me some insight and wisdom as well from others. As a pastor, I try to be incredibly careful as to who I will baptize. I want to be sure as a Baptist pastor that the individual I am baptizing is indeed showing fruit of being a regenerate believer. Most of what I look for is the fruit of the Spirit at work and growing in this person's life (Galatians 5:22-23). There is also a clear understanding on my own part that when dealing with fallen people there is NO BULLET PROOF WAY OF BEING SURE THAT EVERY CONVERT WE BAPTIZE IS TRULY REGENERATE! There is, however, some solid and in depth steps that we can take to ensure that we are not going about this in a casual and flippant way (which much of IFBxdom and evangelicalism has done for several decades now).

Some say that we should baptize NO children until the age of twelve. Though I respect that persuasion and I think that I understand where they are coming from I would have to say that I disagree with that position based on the fact that we are denying someone's right to be obedient to the Lord.

Others say that we should only baptize those who are willing to join the church in membership. Again, not only with children but also with adults this position poses problems because of many variables that are involved with this. What if this is a transient family? What if this child is ready for baptism but not ready for membership? And so on and so on.

My position would fall where I WOULD baptize a child given the fact that they are showing evidential fruit that the work of regeneration is evident in their life. I DO firmly believe that a child by God's grace can do this. Though I fully understand that this will manifest itself a bit differently than an adult would due to issues like age and maturity, I do nevertheless believe that when children are denied the right to be baptized after showing obvious fruit of conversion that we are robbing them of an opportunity of obedience to the Lord.

This is something that we should not take lightly or flippantly. We must be thorough and concise when presenting the Gospel to children and demonstrating to them what it means to live out the Gospel in their lives as well.

Just some thoughts here...now its your turn. Tell us what you think and where you fall on this.

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Thursday, May 17

The Preacher and His Body

I've blogged on this before in regards to my own journey over the past nine months or so...going from an innately obese Michelin Tire Man to a converted kangaroo that cannot lose his small pouch that is left from years of being overweight (waistline going from 54-36). In the past few months I have been reminded of the dangers of going to the extreme on both sides of this struggle - the first extreme being that I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, however I wanted to. The second extreme being the tendency to exercise till I drop, having a fear of any type of fattening foods and becoming dangerously Pharisaical in my approach to dealing with the issue of gluttony and weight.

Please allow me to begin here by saying that if you are in good shape and have not struggled with your weight due to your naturally good metabolism that you have been blessed with I encourage you to rejoice in God's grace at work in your life. I also want to be clear to those who do struggle with their weight. I am not "coming down" on you and this is coming from someone who struggles to this day with what he eats and how to keep the weight that I have lost off. Please allow me to take this opportunity to offer my help in any way possible in encouraging you along the way in using your body for the glory of God. A consistent and steady diet and a regimen of exercise can be adhered to if discipline is involved.

This brings me to ask a question here (which I usually always do for the sake of getting the lurkers here to actually post comments):

If a preacher is overweight does that adversely affect his ministry to others? I know that many will use examples like Spurgeon (who died early incidentally) and Moody and many modern day preachers who lean on the heavy side yet are still effective for the Lord.

I know firsthand the struggle of allowing diet and exercise to become an idol. I also know the propensity of churches and their members to carelessly feed themselves a steady diet of saturated fat, fried chicken, and calorie laden dessert dishes while preaching against the evils of smoking that causes the same adverse effects as gluttony (anyone remember their last church potluck?).

There is no preacher that I know personally who does not have longevity in ministry as one of his personal goals. Yet many a preacher simply neglect this personal responsibility that they have been given from the Lord Himself.

NOTE: Keep in mind here that I am speaking as someone who for nearly ten years neglected this myself. I know that I am not the most qualified person to write about this. However, I will be forever grateful for a dear lady in my church (now with the Lord) who lovingly before a Wednesday evening prayer service took me aside and encouraged me to do something about this. 95 pounds later, I am grateful for that loving confrontation that the Lord used to sink into my stubborn and selfish ears.

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Larry Flynt Expresses Appreciation For Falwell

From the Access Hollywood site, quoting pornographer Larry Flynt:

The Reverend Jerry Falwell and I were arch enemies for fifteen years. We became involved in a lawsuit concerning First Amendment rights and Hustler magazine. Without question, this was my most important battle – the l988 Hustler Magazine, Inc., v. Jerry Falwell case, where after millions of dollars and much deliberation, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in my favor.

My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling.

The most important result of our relationship was the landmark decision from the Supreme Court that made parody protected speech, and the fact that much of what we see on television and hear on the radio today is a direct result of my having won that now famous case which Falwell played such an important role in.
Frank Turk (aka Centuri0n) has a message for the rest of us:
It's probably not so remarkable that Flynt took this opportunity to exemplify himself as a maker of history, but there is something extraordinary about this statement: somehow, Jerry Falwell was able to reach across the moral divide to the pornographer Larry Flynt.

There is a lesson there for those who are heaping hatred on Rev. Falwell: they are clearly wrong about who he was and what he was intending to do in this world. Megalomaniacs and demagogues don't make friends with people who hate everything they stand for. They don't imagine that there's a redemption for the "other side". But there is a lesson for the rest of us as well.

Listen: the viciousness with which some circles are saying "so long" to Rev. Falwell ought to be considered against the fact that Jerry Falwell spoke the truth -- insofar as he spoke it -- and also extended himself as an ambassador even to someone as diametrically-opposed to God's law as Larry Flynt.

This is a lesson in apologetics and evangelism, folks. Jerry Falwell was a flawed human person -- but guess what? So am I. And for the record: so are you. If, upon our deaths, there are none of the unsaved in the number who will say, "this one was my friend," perhaps we have wasted our time here.

Don't waste your life.

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Wednesday, May 16

'Turn Or Burn': Christians In Pakistan Given 10 Days To Convert To Islam

Let us pray for God's grace in the lives of our middle-eastern Christian brothers and sisters:

Christians in Charsadda, a town in North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan, have been warned that if they do not convert to Islam by 17 May they will face “dire consequences and bomb explosions”, Christian Today has learned.

The threats were made in a letter circulated last week to the town’s Christian population, according to the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance.

They come as Pakistan’s National Assembly overwhelmingly rejected proposed amendments to the blasphemy laws, which were tabled by a minority representative Member of Parliament, Mr Bhandara. On 8 May, the Government led the movement in the National Assembly to defeat the reforms.

Under the existing blasphemy laws, anyone convicted of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammad faces life imprisonment or the death penalty, according to section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Continue reading the Christian Today article HERE.

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Learning From Fallwell: Thought-Provoking Questions Concerning Politics And The Kingdom

While reading Cal Thomas' piece regarding Dr. Falwell (Newsweek/Washington Post site ... click HERE), I stumbled upon a commenter's valid and thought-provoking questions regarding political activism and the Christian's mission of advancing Christ's Kingdom.

Spencer comments:

Without disparaging Mr. Falwell directly, it should be noted that Cal Thomas raises valid questions:

Is political activism at odds with the Christian mission of advocating God's Kingdom? What exactly does "not of this world" mean?

Is politically neutral Christianity possible? If so, what would it look like?

If Christians are actually hoping for something better than what human governments can deliver, why bother with all the politicking in the first place?

Seeing that the megachurches that have followed in Falwell's footsteps have done works greater than his (in generating revenue, that is), these are serious questions that anyone who calls themselves a Christian ought to be grappling with.

Good questions. Does anyone have answers?

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SBC Leaders Express Appreciation For Falwell (And I Do, Too)

From the Baptist Press:

Leaders of several Southern Baptist entities voiced their appreciation for Jerry Falwell in the hours following his death May 15. Their comments follow.

-- Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.:

“Dr. Jerry Falwell was a man who loved Jesus Christ, the Bible, his Family and America. Those who knew him personally saw a gracious and generous person who never forgot how God’s grace had transformed him. Dr. Falwell was a great visionary and innovator. Southeastern’s family sends its condolences to the Falwell and Liberty University family”

-- Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board:

"Jerry Falwell's death is a huge loss for Southern Baptists, evangelical Christians and for our nation. His death is also a very personal loss for me and my family since our son, Timothy, attends Liberty University. I, along with the staff and missionaries at the North American Mission Board, want to extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to Jerry's wife, Macel, his children, Jerry, Jr., Jonathan and Jeannie, and all those who loved Jerry so dearly.

"While Jerry will forever be known in many circles for the positive change he brought to the American political landscape, I will always remember him as a church planter whose church became one of the greatest in America. Not only that, but in his role as founder and chancellor of Liberty University, Jerry has trained up tremendous young champions for Christ who are planting churches and sharing the light of the Gospel around the world. Our prayers will be with Jerry's family and all those who will be grieving his loss in the days ahead."

-- O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention:

"He was a dear and trusted friend, a faithful preacher, a man of humor and humility and a visionary with no peer. I loved Jerry Falwell and already feel the void he will leave in my own heart."

-- Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary:

“What I will always remember the most about Jerry Falwell is his passion for preaching the Gospel and reaching lost people for Christ. Much of the conversation about him will be about his political impact, his skill as a fundraiser, his vision-casting expertise and so forth. But the essence of Jerry Falwell is best seen in the fact that he built a great church far out of proportion in size and influence to its community. How? He preached the Bible week by week and he did everything he or anyone else could think of to introduce lost people to Jesus. One can never truly understand Jerry Falwell without understanding he was a gospel preacher and soul winner before all other things. From that foundation came all else we remember about him. We will not see his like for a long time.”

-- Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas:

"I have lost a great friend. America has lost a great patriot. Nevertheless all followers of Jesus rejoice for Dr. Falwell today even as we sorrow together with his entire family over our loss. Dr. Falwell's shadow falls across the face of the rebirth of conservative values in our nation, in the Southern Baptist Convention, and in the entire evangelical world. Only once in a generation will a man of his stature arise. We all owe him a debt of eternal gratitude."

-- R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.:

"We as friends, family in Christ and indeed all of the Southern Baptist community have lost a giant and shining example in the faith. Dr. Falwell will remain forever in our thoughts and memories. His leadership as a conservative televangelist who founded a movement that helped mold the religious right into a political power has endeared him in our hearts. We were also honored to have Dr. Falwell as our President's Convocation speaker in Fall 2006.

"Although we are saddened by his passing, we rejoice knowing that one day all of us who knew Dr. Falwell, and who know the Savior whom he served, the Lord Jesus Christ, will find ourselves together again -– lost in wonder, love and praise at the throne of our Lord. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Falwell and Liberty University families in their great loss. We give thanks to God for the life and ministry of Jerry Falwell."
Continue reading the Baptist Press article HERE.

Al Mohler also shares his thoughts concerning Dr. Falwell HERE:

The legacy of Dr. Jerry Falwell will be debated for decades to come. Political scientists, theologians, church leaders, and historians will all have their say. Jerry Falwell would not be threatened by this analysis. He expected that some would love him for his beliefs and others would not. He was a man in constant motion, and he seemed rarely to look back. He redefined independent fundamentalism and then led his church to associate with the Southern Baptist Convention, which had experienced its own conservative redirection. He mobilized a movement of conservative Christians in America and built a massive empire.

These remain as monuments to Jerry Falwell's leadership and vision. But, far more than these, I would look to his family. Dr. Jerry Falwell leaves a wife he dearly loved, Macel, and three children who were the pride of his life. The best testimony to Jerry Falwell the man is that his children love him and his two sons stand ready to continue what their father began. For a man who spent so much time in the public eye, this is a truly powerful legacy.

If Jerry Falwell could speak now of what he most loved about his ministry, I believe he would speak of all the achievements listed above. But, more than these, he would be thankful for those who had come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through his preaching and witness -- and through the multiplied witness of those trained and educated at Liberty University.

Although Falwell was not fond of us Calvinists, I have appreciated his public stand for morality, and his desire to see men saved by the grace of God. Dr. Falwell was constantly preaching the Gospel--something I pray will one day be said of me.

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