Wednesday, October 31

Piper Praises God for Fundamentalists (In Response to the FBF's Resolution)

From the Desiring God blog:

What I want to say about Fundamentalism is that its great gift to the church is precisely the backbone to resist compromise and to make standing for truth and principle a means of love rather than an alternative to it. I am helped by the call for biblical separation, because almost no evangelicals even think about the doctrine.

So I thank God for fundamentalism, and I think that some of the whining about its ill effects would have to also be directed against the black-and-white bluntness of Jesus.

Excerpted from HERE.

Piper is responding to the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship's resolution warning against Piper's ministry [available HERE].

Labels: ,

ATTENTION: Sports Fans - Time for a Heart Check!

We have been talking a good deal here lately about sports at the World from Our Window. It is always fun to take jabs at us Cub fans and making sure that we give Kenneth his due come basketball season when Bill Self will inevitably coach the Jayhawks out of a national championship. But some things were put into perspective for me today while reading something incredibly convicting about sports from Jerry Bridges. This left me convicted and humbled as I realized that I all too often take too seriously something that can potentially hinder our walk with the Lord. Listen as Bridges puts it back into perspective for the follower of Jesus Christ:

"A third area of modern-day idolatry is our consuming passion for sports. And here I know that, especially for many male readers, I'm walking into an area "where angels fear to tread." But I don't think there is any doubt that sports, especially football and basketball, have become idols in our culture. High school football is often spoken of as a religion in many states. Many high school coaches make large salaries. One at a suburban Alabama school makes $94,000 a year and puts his players through a training regimen almost as rigorous as that of professional athletes. In fact, this idolatry of sports no longer begins at the high school age. Now coaches are looking down into the elementary schools to find promising athletes whom they can begin to groom as high school players. And the ultra-competitive "winning is the only thing" attitude of many parents of these young players simply feeds this idolatry.

But it is really at the college level that idolatry is such a temptation. And I speak from experience. I'm a graduate of one of those schools whose football team has been a major powerhouse over the years. They have won seven national championships, the first of which occurred when I was a junior in college. I give you this background to explain why my school's football fortunes became something of an idol to me. Even years after I graduated, on Saturday game days I became as tense as if my happiness depended on the outcome of the day's game.

I'm not alone, and it is not just over football. Many fans of the perennial basketball powerhouses experience the same angst during the basketball season and especially if their team makes it to the NCAA tournament. I'm still a fan of my university's football team, and I'm pleased when they win. But it's no longer an idol for me. God convicted me of my idolatry, and I now remind myself that football is only a game, and I don't think God is glorified regardless of who wins. The truth is that winning only panders to our pride.

So continue to root for your favorite team, if you desire. But don't get caught up in its wins and losses. Keep sports in perspective. It's only a game."

{Brides, Jerry. Respectable Sins. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007, 174}

So will this have any effect on how we root for our teams this upcoming weekend? Does this give us a fresh perspective on sports and the realization that it is "just a game" that really has no eternal significance. No, I am NOT going to boycott Chicago Cubs baseball games but I pray that it will help me to humbly take a more biblical and Christ-centered look at my heart's condition when watching my favorite sports teams.

Labels: , , ,

490 Years Ago Today ...

... Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the famed Wittenberg church door. Some wanted a revolution, Martin prayed for a reformation. And nearly 500 years later, the cry for the gospel and truth still resounds to the corners of our world. The Reformation is not past; it's present.

To God be the Glory!



[HT: Voice of the Sheep]

Labels: , ,

An IMPORTANT UPDATE on the Reformation Study Bible Special

This just in:

NOTE FROM LIGONIER MINISTRIES

Due to an overwhelming response, we have now sold through our large supply of Reformation Study Bibles. To all those who joined us in celebrating Reformation Day, thank you for supporting this one-time only event.

This was the first time we have offered a sale like this and are so pleased with the response. We look forward to future opportunities to serve the Christian community.

We are sorry if you were not able to get in early on this one-time event. However, if you would still like to order at the $15.17 price, we have decided to honor this price for the rest of today. Please note that we will not be able to fulfill these orders until February 2008.

Please call our resource consultants at 800-435-4343 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Warm regards in Christ,

Chris Larson
Director of Communications
Ligonier Ministries
[HT: Justin Taylor]

Labels: , , ,

A Reformation Day Hymn

Listening to this stirred my soul like it hasn't been stirred in years. Enjoy! [HT: Fide-O]



Bonus Video

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 30

Outreach - Activities, Programs and Events

It has been a struggle of mine in recent years to come to a conclusion as to what would constitute a "healthy" or "productive" outreach event. For years, while cutting my teeth in militant fundamentalism I bought into the idea that a large number of "decisions" was the benchmark of a healthy outreach event. Of course, we cannot forget to include the numbers of that event as well. Many would indicate today that an outreach event such as a concert, special meeting, or special activity that was well attended, well planned and had a number of professions would be a "success". A biblical gospel and methodology would strongly argue that. For instance, would you deem an outreach event that counted ZERO decisions made as a failure? Even though scores of people heard the gospel? I certainly hope not! The planting of the seed of the gospel can never be underestimated and rarely calculated this side of glory.

I would be the first to say that many of our churches (including my own) need to start thinking outside of their walls like really soon....like yesterday! Many believers have become so involved in what they call community that they have made their community into nothing more than some sort of glorified congregational country club where prospective members have to meet cultural standards rather than spiritual ones. By all means, we need to avoid that mindset like the plague.

My main beef with many of our modern day outreach programs is that many times they produce the results that we want and or desire - professions, decisions, and decisions and decisions and decisions. Often, our evangelistic outreach events not only produce professions, but many times they produce the same professions night after night from the same people! Not only is this disturbing, but it also is conveying an idea that regeneration somehow occurs by making man concocted decisions!

Outreach is great so please do not get me wrong. But I want to be sure that when we are doing outreach that we are not using it as a replacement to the biblical mandate to build the church of Jesus Christ - worship, the preaching of the Word, observance of the ordinances, church discipline, and fellowship. Outreach is done EVERY time we practice those disciplines! Every single one of those practices is an open display of the gospel at work in a believer's life. That is why I personally am persuaded to believe that church planting is one of the most effective outreach methods out there.

So please keep in mind here before you start hammering me via the blogosphere! I am NOT denying the validity or effectiveness of special outreach events, programs or even committees for that matter. But what I am saying is that many churches have the best outreach program ever created and simply miss it or are not made aware of it - a local church that is faithfully proclaiming the gospel through the preaching of the Word and through their own personal lives!

Labels: , ,

When Will Daddies Grow Up?

Society's ever-increasing years of male adolescence has driven Carl Trueman to post a deeply thought-provoking piece in the current issue of the Reformation 21 e-zine. Trueman starts:

"One of the strangest trends of recent years has surely been the extended adolescence of the Western male. A recent survey showed that the average age for video game players is now somewhere in the mid-30s; and the fact that trivia such as the result of a baseball match can generate passion and high blood-pressure more than the AIDS crisis in Africa, the problem of global warming, and world poverty, says something about the juvenile priorities of the most well fed, best educated, and financially comfortable generation in history. Not that enjoying sport is a bad thing; there is nothing like beating the Welsh again and again at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to set my own pulse racing and to cause my chest to swell with English pride; but, as Pascal might have said, it is one thing for such entertainment to be a little light relief from the drudge of daily life; another for it to become a major diversion which allows us to avoid the really serious realities of adult life."
Later, Carl hits a bit too close to home for some of us thirty-somethings:
" ... [B]aldness is nonetheless a great gift from the Lord, in that it imposes a certain dignity on the ageing process by cutting off the various less dignified options (e.g., ponytails, which shouldn’t be sported by anyone over 30; and mullets which, frankly, should not be sported by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Period.). Of course, there are those, even Christians, who fight against this divinely-imposed dignity. Dreadful toupees abound in the church, along with frightful transplants, and the ubiquitous `comb-over’ or `sweep.’ The latter seems predicated on the false notion that, if you have six hairs to stretch across the barren landscape of your otherwise shiny pate, nobody will notice that you have gone completely bald. Or perhaps there is a belief somewhere that, in the country of the bald, the one-haired man is king. Come on, gents, parade your baldness with pride and accept the dignity which your divinely-imposed hair loss brings with it."
Read the entire article HERE.

Okay, guys, perhaps it's about time we grew up!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 29

Baptists and Liturgy: Why We Don't Do It (From a Liturgical Child's Perspective)

Thanks to the ever-controversial Centuri0n for pointing me to this exchange between a father and son who normally attend a liturgical church. This conversation, though, took place while they were attending a non-liturgical (most likely, Baptist) church service:

Note: This conversation, or a reasonably close version of it, took place one recent Sunday evening as my seven-year-old son Nathan and I visited an evangelical church for a special service. Although it actually took place in several stages (ending late that evening at home), for literary purposes I have reconstructed the conversation as if it all took place during the service. I confess that a good portion of it did go on then, as I tried to explain evangelical worship to an impressionable youngster.

Nathan: Papa, this sure is a funny liturgy.

Papa: Well, it isn’t exactly a liturgy. They don’t believe in liturgy at this church.

Nathan: How can you not believe in liturgy? Isn’t a liturgy just what you do in church?

Papa: Yes. But what I mean is that they don’t believe in having the service written down in advance.

Nathan: Why not?

Papa: They think that if they read something that’s written down, they won’t really mean it.

Nathan: But all they have to do is think about what it means, and agree with it, and then they’ll mean it, won’t they?

Papa: Sure. But they don’t believe that.

Nathan: But somebody around here must believe it, because we all sang from the same hymnbook. Don’t they mean it when they sing the hymns?

Papa: Sure they do. But they think prayers are different.

Nathan: You mean that they can agree with a song that they read, but they don’t know how to agree with a prayer that they read?

Papa: Something like that.

Nathan: Then why don’t they just memorize the prayers?

Papa: Because they think they wouldn’t mean those, either.
Continue reading HERE (believe me, you don't want to miss the rest of this).

So, why did we as Baptists ever stop liturgizing?

Labels: , ,

Do You Believe In Miracles? I Do, and Here's Proof

For those of you who regularly read, you will remember last week's plea for prayer on behalf of our friend, Jonathan. Jonathan is a 37-year-old husband and father who was diagnosed with cancer this past summer. Last Wednesday, he faced major neck and abdomen surgery in an attempt to remove the cancerous tumors from his body.

The surgery went well and was labeled a success by the doctors. Yet there still was a possibility that some cancer remained. In fact, the doctors seemed very sure there was still cancer. After much chemo and this nearly 12-hour surgery, this appeared to be a bit of a setback.

But the doctors don't have the final say in the lives of God's children. Martha, Jonathan's wife, shares their story:

Our God is the God of the impossible! We just received a call from Dr. Holzbeierlein with the most amazing news. He told us the final pathology report came back as the non-metestatic teratoma tumor and NOT cancerous! Yes, we are now cancer free! We are both so overwhelmed with the news that we don't know what to say. Our initial response was a lot of crying, a little jumping for joy by me and Jonathan's mom and a few shouts of praise the Lord's. We are so thankful that God chose to cure Jonathan now instead of having to go through more chemo. We also know that if he had chosen to take us through more chemo He would have been faithful to provide the strength, grace and mercy necessary to finish the journey. We are so thankful for the prayer warriors who got on their knees on behalf of us. God was glorified through the prayers and faith of our friends and loved ones in answering the thousands of prayers. It has been a humbling experience to see the hand of God so dramatically in our lives and to know that He was glorified in our suffering. We can honestly say that we rejoiced in our tribulation because we were right were God wanted us to be, and as I said before there is nowhere else we would rather be.

Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him. This Summer has been a difficult journey for us, but through it all we have kept our focus on our Heavenly Father. There are no words to describe the fear and overwhelming feeling of despair when we found out Jonathan had cancer. But our God, who is faithful, has held us through the chemo and now the surgery. I know it through the power of the prayers of our friends and family. Without you, we would not have been as victorious in our journey. Thank you for being willing to stand in the gap for us.

Yes, I started this blog yesterday right after receiving the GREAT news, but was so emotional I wasn't able to finish it until today. What can I say... I have a husband who is recovering from extensive surgery and three very demanding precious children. Oh, I do induldge in a bon bon moment and watch my soaps every day... but hey what more can a girl do? Just kidding, I don't even watch the very few shows I allow the kids to watch. Ahh, the life of a Mommy/ Wife/ Administrator/ Nurse/ Peace Keeper/.... you get the gereral idea.
Thanks again, to all who have prayed for this family. God has heard your prayers and been pleased to answer them in the affirmative.

To God be the glory!

Labels: , , , ,

Lions, Tigers, and Bears -- Oh My!!! (With An Unbelievable You Tube Ending!)

Perhaps our dear blog buddy, Mike Hess, could use a bit of cheering up this morning.

To put it in laymen's terms, the roaring Lions manhandled the quickly-collapsing Bears on their own home turf. Looks to be a long year in northern Illinois ... and for the lone Bears fan in Southern Illinois. Sorry, Mike ... all that rantin' and ravin' at the beginning of the season sounds a bit foolish now!

Unless you are a fighting Illini fan, of course. For those of you who slept through Saturday's big win over Ball State (who happened to give Michigan a run for their money earlier in the year) resulted in the Illini becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2001. Things are definitely looking up in Champaign ... and the majority of the team is underclassmen. Can you say National Championship in 2009, Baby??!!

Perhaps Florida would like to have Ron Zook back now?

And on a final frivolous note, when was the last time the Missouri Tigers (I'm not really much of a fan--but they are tolerable during the football season) and the Kansas Jayhawks were both ranked in the top ten of any college football poll? It happened for one week in 1976 and for three weeks each in 1968 and 1960. Jayhawk nation is ecstatic, as well they should be. And that's an amazing feat when you consider that the basketball season has yet to begin!

Before we return to more serious and eternally significant things, if you haven't already seen it (it's on some 1 million blogs this morning), you've gotta watch this. Simply unbelievable.

Would somebody please count the number of laterals?

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, October 27

Poll: What is the Bigger Problem in Preaching?

Although we had hundreds (okay, at least dozens) of readers who chose not to participate in yesterday's poll, I do appreciate the seven that have responded so far. (The lack of voting is kind of strange in a democratic state, but then the majority of Americans don't even exercise their right to vote for their own President.) So despite all of my disappointment in yesterday's lack of response, here I go again.

Which of the two is the bigger problem in preaching?

1. Lack of theological depth

OR

2. Lack of practical relevance

"Thank you!" to all who take the time to respond.

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 26

Get an ESV Reformation Study Bible for $15.17

No kidding.

Now for something I've yet to admit publicly: although I am a Baptist, this is the study Bible I use. In other words, this is the study Bible I endorse (I also own a Ryrie and a Scofield, neither of which I will comment on). And yes, I do own a MacArthur Study Bible--and endorse it as well.

Now ... this special deal is a one-day only event. October 31 is the day. Ligonier Ministries is the place.

Details HERE.

Labels: , ,

We Will NOT Be Endorsing a Presidential Candidate ...

... for the same reason John Piper and Desiring God ministries will not be endorsing a presidential candidate:

At Desiring God we exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. That “all things” includes politics. Our sense of God’s calling at Desiring God is that we will serve the supremacy of God in politics better by maintaining a certain distance from candidates so that we may speak with more freedom into issues from a biblical angle.
[Excerpted from HERE.]

Three of our four team members are pastors; and as pastors our duty is not to endorse political candidates (or parties) but to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (which most certainly necessitates addressing social and ethical issues from a biblical perspective). The only campaign we will publicly endorse is the campaign in which every believer has been enlisted.
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV), "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'"
While we do encourage our people to fulfill their responsibility as Christian citizens, we are not about Republicans, Democrats, Elephants, Donkeys, Blue, or Red. These are but temporary forms and structures built by mortal men.

We endorse a campaign whose "builder and maker is God"-- a form and structure which cannot fail.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not intended as a criticism of pastors or bloggers who have chosen to endorse a political party or campaign. Doing so is their right--a right we respect as Baptists who laud individual soul liberty.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Poll: Which Is the Greater Problem Among Pastors?

Here is another chance for you to exercise your right as a reader and voice your learned opinion. Which of the two do you believe is the greater problem among pastors?

1. Lack of theological understanding

OR

2. Lack of practical ministry skills

Remember, every vote counts!

Labels: , ,

Christians and Cultural Engagement

Yesterday afternoon I was sent an email that had a great affect on me regarding my own personal involvement in culture and how we handle those who reject our God and our Bible. Most of you who know me are aware that my natural inclination is to be engaging and confrontational with just about any subject or any activity that I’m involved in. Whether that be theology, preaching, reading, working out, the Cubs, da Bears, or patting others on the back! For the most part, I only have one gear and that one is usually in full throttle. That does, however, come with its pluses and minuses. Most of the negative side of that comes when aggressive folk like me engage with others outside of orthodox Christianity. Or, to put it mildly, liberal minded Christians or those who outright reject the Bible.

In a day and age when so many believers who hold to solid convictions are being labeled “extremists” we need to be careful that we do not allow ourselves to be “returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling” (I Peter 3:9) NKJV. This is the nature of the beast today. While we should never flinch about where we stand regarding the true and living God as revealed in Scripture, we must be careful that while doing this that our application of the “fruit of the Spirit” is always on display for a dark world to see.

A few thoughts this morning that I think myself and all culturally aware believers should keep in mind while engaging our culture:

1. Grace NEVER trumps the Truth! – Yes, we should be graceful and kind but we should always be sure to be faithful to the truth at all times as well. Lying is NEVER right and we CAN be truthful while being graceful at the same time.

2. We are called to submit to authority – Whether we like that authority or not we are called to submit to it (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17). This should be done with humility while maintaining an allegiance to our testimony for Jesus Christ.

3. Think of pride the same way that God does – We do not know the truth of salvation because we are smarter, more clever, better looking or simply because we can figure things out better. We only know the truth because of GRACE according to God’s sovereign choice (Deut. 7:7; Eph. 1:4-6; I Cor. 1:30). If I read Prov. 8:13 correctly, then we are to hate pride if we are to fear God alone. Regrettably, many a Christian, including myself more times than I care to admit, has fallen into the trap of allowing our faith to produce arrogance rather than humility.

Let’s be sure that when we engage in culture that our application or our faith matches our confession of faith!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 25

Christians Living Like Atheists

As much as I can, I try to get my hands on anything that Jerry Bridges has written. His most influential book on me personally was his classic work "The Discipline of Grace" which helped balance for me the dichotomy of living by dependence and discipline.

His newest work has NOT been a disappointment. Bridges points out a very subtle reality that takes place in many of our own lives and in much of the Church today in evangelicalism - Christians living, talking and acting exactly like the secular world. Take a look at this excerpt that reached out and grabbed me today:

"Now, the sad fact is that many of us who are believers tend to live our daily lives with little or no thought of God. We may even read our Bibles and pray for a few minutes at the beginning of each day, but then we go out into the day's activities and basically live as though God doesn't exist. We seldom think of our dependence on God or our responsibility to Him. We might go for hours with no thought of God at all. In that sense, we are hardly different from our nice, decent, but unbelieving neighbor. God is not at all in his thoughts and is seldom in ours."

Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins (Navpress, 2007), 54

While I was reading this it was like I was looking into some big fat spiritual mirror! How often throughout the course of the day are we enraptured with the greatness, holiness, majesty, splendor, sovereignty, power, love, mercy, grace, long-suffering, forgiveness, and justice of God? Sadly, speaking for me personally, not nearly enough!

Get this book! You'll be glad that you did. Then make it a point to systematically read through the other works of Jerry Bridges.

Labels: , ,

Book Review: Everyday Talk

Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God with Your Children - John A. Younts

This book is a must-read for every parent because it takes something we think we already know--what we say and how we live everyday matters--and shows us that we don't really know it at all. I ignorantly thought that this book wouldn't be much more than a good review, but it quickly became life-changing as I began to see everyday moments in a whole new light. I began to see my son's questions not as annoying interruptions, but as golden opportunities to teach God's Word. His sometimes incessant chatter became opportunities to learn what he was thinking, how he was being influenced, and therefore what I needed to be talking to him about from God's Word. I now find myself listening in a whole new way. I am seeing opportunities that I know used to pass me by. I have had some of my most productive teaching moments because I used my son's questions and comments as the catalyst for teaching God's Word in the milieu of everyday life. This book is an eye-opener to the power of everyday talk.

Jay Younts says this in the Introduction:

The problem is that everyday talk is far more important than "Sunday best" talk. It reveals us as we really are--our character and our priorities. Our children model our everyday talk because that is what they hear most of the time. By it we teach them our worldview, our ethics, our theology, and our relationship with God.
Jay Younts doesn't pull any punches but states his thesis on the first page of the first chapter. "The most powerful personal influence in your child's life is everyday talk." (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) He reminds parents that "someone will always be influencing your kids (1 Corinthians 15:33). Don't fall into the trap of thinking that some influences are neutral--neither good nor bad. Anything that doesn't influence your child for God is an influence away from God." I am still thinking about this (which is a good thing) and wondering if taken to a natural conclusion this would lead Christian parents to shelter their children through homeschooling and other "protective" behaviors such as completely removing the TV, radio, iPod, DVD player, etc. I wholeheartedly agree that there is more than adequate evidence to support the claim that Christian parents aren't taking advantage of their influencing opportunities. And to push this even further, Christian parents are allowing and even encouraging ungodly influences to have the vast majority of time in their children's lives. There is no doubt that we need to "redeem" the opportunities we have and also limit ungodly influences. Jay does a great job of showing us how to redeem our everyday talk, but doesn't go into few details on the degree or particulars of limiting the ungodly influences. I would love to see him deal with that subject more fully in the future.

In helping us redeem and refocus our everyday talk, Jay covers some tremendously key areas and gives wonderful, practical examples of God-centered, Bible-centered everyday talk. He covers (1) the Gospel, (2) listening, (3) giving directions, (4) dealing with disappointment, (5) big sins and little sins, (6) preparing for the teen years and (7) the home as God's greenhouse. There is a boatload of biblical wisdom with practical applications in these chapters, but the most helpful chapters to me were chapters nine through eleven.

In chapter nine he deals with the world and its grand deception. It was a welcome eye-opener to be reminded at how dangerous the world and its philosophies are. The world is so deceptive in its attack and so often we are lulled to sleep and almost completely oblivious to its attraction to us and our children. In chapters ten and eleven he gets very specific by dealing with the often avoided subject of sex and the controversial subject of music. Here again the wonderfully practical nature of this book is on display. I have already taken and used some of these ideas with my son.

This book has become a companion volume to Shepherding a Child's Heart and Teach Them Diligently. By sticking tenaciously to one topic this book is short and therefore readable by every parent. It is a must-read that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Labels: , ,

Self-Esteem, the Feel Good Movement, and the Doctrine of Justification

Here is a valuable and worthwhile article from Modern Reformation magazine that addresses the contemporary church's infatuation with all things self (including self-esteem, self-worth, self-image, self-love, self-importance, self-reliance, self-efficacy, self-awareness, self-determination, self- ... I think you get the picture).

You will be tempted to save some time and skim the article. DON'T. Read the entire piece. And then print it out for later. It's that good.

Could Christianity survive without the gospel? In some quarters, including some fairly close to home, the answer seems to be in the affirmative. We still hear the laity using the lingo from the past, but the theological language of scripture is being increasingly replaced with psychological terminology. Of course, language is not as important as the concepts language conveys, but those concepts themselves are often little more than biblical glosses on psychological motifs.

In this article I want to persuade the reader to consider the gospel as the answer to what people are looking for when they say they need "self-esteem," rather than seeing the gospel as a supplement to the secular illusions. Theology isn't practical--at least, that's what people tell you, even Christian people. Nevertheless, I intend to demonstrate just how practical and essential is a recovery of the fundamental teaching of justification by grace alone through faith alone to our deepest psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs.

The Breakthrough of a Tormented Conscience

Like many today who live in anxiety, fear, guilt, and the shame which are common to our fallen condition, Martin Luther was a confused man whose conscience was tormented until he was able to understand Paul's explanation of the gospel in the Epistle to the Romans. His superiors in the monastery counseled him to relax and ease up on his conscience, but Luther was driven by an implacable logic: If God is just, holy, and righteous, and demanded exact conformity to his moral character, with failure being met with certain punishment, then "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place?" The Psalmist's answer was clear: "He who has clean hands and a pure heart" (Ps. 24). If that did not describe the hands and heart of a precise and obedient monk, "Who then can be saved?"

Like many today who are turned off to words like "righteousness" and "holiness" because they just remind us of how unrighteous and unholy we really are, Luther was ready to give the whole thing up until the gospel finally made sense:

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the righteousness of God and the statement that "the just shall live by his faith" (Rom. 1:17). Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a different meaning, and whereas before the "justice of God" had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in great love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven. (1)

Dubbed "the accusative case" by his classmates, John Calvin was another reformer who was revolutionized by this realization. "You see that our righteousness is not in us but in Christ, that we possess it only because we are partakers in Christ; indeed, in him we possess all its riches." (2) Thus, the Reformation gave renewed focus to the "alien righteousness" of Christ. While the monks were busy trying to find the good within, the reformers were pointing believers to the Christ outside of them in history who lived, died, and rose again to give freely what none of us has or can create on the inside.

Continue reading HERE.

[HT: Waldean Wall]

Labels: , , , , ,

This Just In ... Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections for Free

Coming in November from Christianaudio.com ... Edwards' greatest work (in my opinion) will be available as a free audio download in just a few days! Here's proof:

Christianaudio: The premiere online place for Christian audiobooks
Books
Click Here

FREE with no obligation

Free Download of Jonathan Edwards' The Life of David Brainerd. Add the download format of The Life of David Brainerd to your shopping cart and Religious Affections use the coupon code OCT2007 during checkout.

Coming in November the Free Audiobook of the Month will be The Religious Affections by Edwards. Sign up for the ChristianAudio.com Newsletter to receive an email when this classic audiobook is available for free.

All Saints Weekend Sale

In celebration of All Saints Day, ChristianAudio.com is having a weekend sale on our digital downloads. Hundreds of audiobooks, educational courses, and conferences will be available for 50% off from November 1 through November 4.

ChristianAudio.com has the largest selection of Christian audiobooks on the web. We have best-selling modern authors like John MacArthur, Gary Chapman, Ravi Zacharias, and many more. And we have your favorite class authors like A. W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, John Bunyan, and many more. Whatever your interest, from spiritual disciplines to theology to apologetics to leadership, we've got the best of the best for you.

Listen Enjoy Think Grow

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 24

Should Christians Attempt to Transform Culture? John Frame Says Yes

John Frame is a tranformationalist, and does not apologize for embracing the term.

Because I've been wrestling with this concept for some time now, and because I am open to learning from our readers, let's join in a discussion regarding the Christian's mission in culture. To aid in this discussion, here are some of Frame's thoughts around which we can interact.

I find myself supporting the view that Christians should be seeking to transform culture according to the standards of God’s Word. This simply means that if you are a Christian artist, car repairman, government official, or whatever, you should be seeking to do this work as a Christian, to apply God’s standards to your work. As Paul says, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Christians have always sought to do this, and in seeking to do this, they have had a huge impact on culture. They haven’t turned earth into heaven, or the world into the church. And sometimes they have made tragic mistakes. But they have also done a great deal of good.

(1) Seeking to transform culture in this way does not mean trying save the world apart from God’s grace. It simply means obeying God as our thankful response to his grace.

(2) A transformational approach does not assume an unrealistic optimism about what is possible in fallen society. We know, just as much as the dualists do, that the world is fallen, deeply sinful, totally depraved. But we also have confidence in God’s common grace and his special grace. Real change for the better can occur, and history shows that it has occurred. Not perfection, but real change for the better.

(3) To apply Christian standards to art, for example, does not mean that we must turn our artistic works into salvation tracts. The Bible doesn’t require that. I do believe that the gospel of salvation is a fit subject, indeed a glorious subject for artistic treatment. Bach’s Passions and Da Vinci’s Last Supper are proof of that. But art should deal with all aspects of God’s creation.

(4) A transformational approach does not mean that every human activity practiced by a Christian (e.g. plumbing, car repair) must be obviously, externally different from the same activities practiced by non-Christians. There is always a difference, but often the difference is that of motive, goal, and standard, rather than anything external. The Christian seeks to change his tires to the glory of God, and the non-Christian does not. But that’s a difference that couldn’t be captured in a photograph. When changing tires, Christian and non-Christian may look very much alike.

(5) Critics have often bemoaned the lack of high standards in Christian art, music, and other cultural activity. To some extent, anyway, these critics are right. But the answer to this problem is not to accept secular standards uncritically. (Again, even if we did, which ones should we accept?) The answer is rather to be more faithful to God, both in his special and in his general revelation. We ought to be humble enough to learn what we can from the knowledge in these areas that God has given to unbelievers. But we should always be challenging it on the basis of our knowledge of the true God.
These thoughts originally appeared HERE.

Historically, the fundamentalist response to culture has been to react against it rather than seek to transform it (often based upon a faulty understanding of 1 John 2:15-17). Such a mindset seems to fly in the face of several clear passages:
Matthew 5:14, 16 (ESV), "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

1 Peter 2:12 (ESV), "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."

Philippians 2:15 (ESV), "That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."
I also understand that some transformationalists' attempt at redeeming culture is driven by their eschatological views. So can a non-post-millennialist adopt the transformationalist philosophy without compromising his eschatological views?

What think ye?

Labels: , , , ,

Sharing the Gospel With Our Children

Part #1
Part #2

In response to this series we have had what I believe is a first for The World From Our Window. The author of Everyday Talk, John A. Younts (known to his friends as Jay), responded to Part #2 and interacted at length with the questions and comments that were given. He even went so far as to contact me both by email and by phone. I really appreciate Jay taking the time to contact me and to comment at our little-known blog. His interaction was very helpful and insightful. Since many of you might not have followed the conversation in the comment section I thought it was worthy of its own post. I also hope that it keeps us thinking about how we are to share the gospel with our children.

Here is some of what Jay wrote in his first response:

I believe that Eph. 6:4 provides specific warrant for parents to challenge their children with the claims of the gospel. So, when a child is confronted with his inability to respond as God directs, the parent is to respond with the necessity of embracing the gospel, trusting in Christ for strength to obey. In this process the child is led to the necessity of embracing Christ as Savior.
Michelle Brock from As4Me (an interesting blog that deals with numerous parenting situations) responded with a situation that asked the very question I was trying to ask in my post.
Right now, in our house, I have said: "The reason you're selfish is because you have not yet trusted Christ as your Savior [fine so far]. You do not have the Holy Spirit helping you to be kind [I think that's biblical]. So go be kind to your sister. [Problem: I've just told him that he can't be kind, but I'm insisting that he do it.]"

What's the right way to finish a conversation when we tell our children they need Christ?
Jay responded:
The problem Michelle accurately raises is that she is insisting that her child do something, be biblically kind, that he is not able to do by his own ability. This is the circumstance – requiring a child to do something that can only be done by those who have come to Christ. The biblical application is to look at what directions God gives to parents regarding this circumstance. If God has given specific instructions about what to do in a particular circumstance then we are to follow that directive even if our finite understanding causes us to question the whether that response is appropriate.

With regard to children God has given specific directives about what we are to require of them. I previously mentioned Eph. 6:4 in this regard. Also look at passages like Proverbs 4:1-9 and Deut. 6:4-7. These passages summarize a biblical theme – parents are to teach their children about the ways of God. Furthermore passages like Proverbs 13:24 establish the directive to discipline children when they do not do things that God requires. Note Bruce Waltke’s comments on this verse: "This proverb is based upon several assumptions. First, that the home is the basic social unit for transmitting values (cf. Ex. 20:12) Second, that parents have absolute values, not merely valuations. Third, that folly is bound up in the heart of the child, Prov. 22:15. Fourth, that is will take more than words to dislodge this folly… The biblical method of rearing is loving the child, which entails strict discipline and valuing him or her as gift from God. The New Testament teaching does not abrogate or supersede it and should not be abandoned by the church as unfashionable cf. Eph. 6:4 & Heb. 12:5-11" [Waltke’s commentary on Proverbs, page 574, Vol 1.]

I can only echo his words. I believe it is safe to say that God directs us to confront our children regarding their sin. Looking at the Eph. 6:4 passage in this light, Paul says that we are to raise our children in the training and instruction (rod & reproof) of the Lord. Paul has not forgotten what instruction in the Lord means. He tells us of our children’s natural state in Eph. 2:1-3. In chapter four he lays out the role of the church in presenting the gospel message. He even uses the growth of children to maturity as metaphor to describe this process 4:13-16.

Eph. 6:4 then assumes the necessity of an understanding of the gospel in raising children. God has sovereignly placed children in your home. He has given Christians only one set of instructions to teach these children. I cannot find an alternate set of instructions for children in the Bible that say to parents - use these until you are sure your child has made a credible profession of faith. No, God wants parents to teach the fruit of the spirit from their earliest moments. He wants parents to proclaim the gospel message from the earliest moment of their lives. When or if God chooses to regenerate the child is not the parent’s chief concern. Rather the parent must be first of all concerned to present to the child God’s instruction and discipline. I believe that it is the faithful administration of God’s directives to children that will lay the foundation for that profession. But you don’t have to have the profession before you can teach the life changing truths of God. I believe that is what Eph. 6:4 and the other passages referenced above is teaching. You don’t have to be a Presbyterian to believe these things. This would fit within the context of a faithful Baptist construct as well. [See Shepherding a Child’s Heart by my friend, Tedd Tripp.] I also believe it is essential to remember that parents do not know when God will work.

Michelle said, "The reason you're selfish is because you have not yet trusted Christ as your Savior."

While this is true, children will continue to be selfish even after they come to Christ. So what is the response to the child after profession? God’s set of instructions and the responses he requires are the same for the child. That is why I said the specific examples that I give in Chapter Two of Everyday Talk do not make assumptions about the regenerative state of the child. So, I would say to the child in Michelle’s scenario, “The reason you are selfish is that you are not trusting Christ to help you obey”. This fits the situation regardless of the child’s spiritual state, which we admittedly may not know with certainty.

Michelle said, "You do not have the Holy Spirit helping you to be kind."

Again this may be true. My answer is the same as the one above. Encourage the child to seek the illuminating power of the Spirit to be kind in a tough situation. Whether the child knows Christ or not, the need of the child is the same. Teaching a child to pray for the enabling power of the Spirit to do what pleases God is crucial to establishing that credible profession.

Michelle said, "So go be kind to your sister." [Problem: I've just told him that he can't be kind, but I'm insisting that he do it.]

What I would say is that after the appropriate discipline is administered you say to the child, "Let’s ask God for forgiveness and for the strength to be kind to your sister." You don’t want the child to get the idea that kindness, which is a fruit of the Spirit, is something that he can practice in his own strength. This is bringing Christ right down to the milieu of everyday life, everyday talk. This type of parenting will take more time than timeouts and programmed responses. But it has the capacity to yield rich rewards. [Emphasis added]
Michelle continued to press Jay for clarity in his position.
Am I understanding you correctly, then, that you instruct the child in all ways the same, regardless of his state before Christ? Would you also respond to an unsaved adult as you have indicated here? (e.g.,“the reason you are selfish is that you are not trusting Christ to help you obey.” Encourage the [adult] to seek the illuminating power of the Spirit to be kind in a tough situation, etc.) You said, "God’s set of instructions and the responses he requires are the same for the child." Would you say the same thing for an adult?

I'm still unclear then as to what the difference is before the young child is saved and then after. How does confronting my child with the gospel in situations like these motivate him to accept Christ, if salvation makes no difference?

Am I missing something? [Emphasis added]
Jay responded:
The situation I am describing is dynamic, fluid. For a young child a parent follows Eph. 6:4 by passionately, constantly pressing the claims of the gospel message to his child. This is done because the salvation of the child DOES matter. I don't see any scriptural directive for not doing this. Romans 10 says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. So as a parent, I constantly, consistently call upon my children to repent and seek Christ. The occasion of my doing this includes the opportunities for discipline that God provides in the parenting process. I don't know when God will chose to save my children. But I do know that salvation will occur in the context of the confrontation with the word. God brings children into our homes. He tells us how to raise them. As you pointed out, we are to require that they obey even when we know they can only do it through the power of Christ. So, my confrontation with the things of God is to be 24/7.

As children get older and they still do not respond your instruction must sensitively fit the struggles they are facing. I still present Christ at all times. Even with adults you tell them that what God requires is beyond their reach apart from Christ. But you don't give them different goals. It is still the reality that they must trust Christ and his Spirit for the strength to obey.

Salvation does matter. It must be the end goal of all that I do with regarding training my children. My problem is that I don't know when God will work. But I do know what he has commanded that I teach and instruct. When my child does respond, I thank God for that and seek to build consistency in their lives and their profession. At some point, the parent will determine when this profession becomes credible. I am just urging that we don't use a higher standard for kids than we do for adults.

Before they come to Christ, you urge trusting in Him for a new heart so that they can obey. After they come to Christ you urge that they trust Christ to provide the strength so that they can obey. Salvation does matter. Col. 2:6 says that just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him... This is the dynamic that I am referring to. [Emphasis added]
I hope this will be as helpful to you as it was to me. I also hope that it drives you to share the gospel with your children on a daily basis.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 23

What You May Not Know About Poet & Hymn Writer William Cowper

I've been devouring the Winter 2004 issue of Christian History & Biography magazine. This issue highlighted the life, ministry, and hymn writing of slave-trader-turned-preacher John Newton. The entire issue has been stellar, but a particular article highlighting Newton's relationship with William Cowper--the great hymn writer--fascinated me.

William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper") was a man who battled continuous doubts and endured severe bouts of depression (as have many devout believers--including Spurgeon). In fact, his conversion took place while he was being treated at an asylum (many historians attribute the bouts of depression to his childhood and being forced into a career in law).

In 1767, Cowper moved to the village of Olney, Buck­ing­ham­shire, and took up residence in a home near Newton's. The two quickly became the best of frineds--often taking walks together and engaging one another in deep theological discussion. Cowper also assisted Newton in ministerial work and accompanied him on many preaching tours. According to Jennifer Trafton's article, "This partnership spawned a prolific period of hymn writing for both men, and they made plans to publish a hymnbook for the Olney congregation as a celebration of their spiritually fruitful camaraderie."

Another deep depression gripped Cowper, and in 1773, the project was interrupted. This bout lasted 14 months and included several suicide attempts. It appears Cowper never completely recovered from this battle; he never again attended public worship.

Newton, who continued to compose hymns during this period, eventually published the hymnbook. Later he described their relationship:

"The Lord who had brought us together had so knit our hearts and affections that for nearly 12 years, we were seldom separated for 12 hours at a time when we were awake and at home. The first six I passed in daily admiring and trying to imitate him; during the second six I walked pensively with him in the valley of the shadow of death."
So what was at the root of Cowper's lingering depression? Many have ventured a guess, but Trafton is convinced it was solely a spiritual issue:
" ... Cowper interpreted his own feelings solely in religious terms and became convinced that he was experiencing God's rejection. He was an anomaly both to his friends and to himself: a doctrinally orthodox Christian who proclaimed the gospel of grace to others yet believed himself to be uniquely condemned by God. Even in the mids of despair over his own salvation, Cowper firmly believed that there was no possibility of happiness or healing apart from God, and to his dying day he waited for a divine word that would cure his misery."
As evidenced in his letters and in a sermon he preached after Cowper's death, Newton was perplexed and bewildered that a man whose virtues were so obvious to his friends could question his own relationship with God. Perhaps the strong exhortations in Newton's hymns could be traced to his relationship with William Cowper. In fact, it appears some of Newton's hymns were intended as exhortations to Cowper himself. Trafton highlights one such hymn ("To the Afflicted, tossed with tempests, and not comforted") in which Jesus speaks to the brokenhearted:

"Though afflicted, tempest-toss'd,
Comfortless a while thou art,
Do not think thou canst be lost,
Thou art graven on my heart:
All thy wastes I will repair,
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew;
And in thee it shall appear
What a God of love can do."

Newton later moved to London (which resulted in an unprecedented strain on the relationship), yet the two apparantly continued to correspond, and as late as 1795 Cowper wrote, "There is no day in which you are excluded from my thoughts."

Although these two were the closest of friends for those years they were neighbors in Olney, a poem Cowper penned to Newton (who faced his own well-documented struggles with his slave-trading past) in 1780 describes their vast differences:

"The ocean you of late survey'd,
Those rocks I too have seen,
But I afflicted and dismay'd,
You, tranquil and serene.
You from the flood-controlling steep,
Saw stretch'd before your view,
With conscious joy, the threat'ning deep,
No longer such to you.

To me, the waves that ceaseless broke
Upon the dang'rous coast
Hoarsely and ominously spoke
Of all my treasure lost.
Your sea of troubles you have past,
And found the peaceful shore;
I, tempest-toss'd, and wrecked at last,
Come home to port no more."

Trafton, a freelance writer from Bowling Green, Kentucky, sums up their unique relationship this way:
"In Cowper, Newton found a living paradox of doubt, assurance, despair, and grace that tested his pastoral skills to their limit. In Newton, Cowper found a spiritual sounding board and an encourager of his literary skills--two things so necessary for keeping his head above the waves as long as possible. Newton was a limited and sometimes fallible guide for the tormented poet, and he never fully understood the dark depths in which his friend lived.

An apt image for their relationship might be that of Newton calling from the shore, 'You'll make it, you'll make it,' while Cowper is sinking deeper and deeper beneath the sea of his own misery. Nevertheless, out of this intense, treasured, and often troubled communion came hymns that are still beloved today, poems that have an important place in the history of English literature, and the incalculable personal impact of two men whose characters were forged int he furnace of a unique Christian friendship."
Perhaps these mens' lives will encourage us to sacrificially invest ourselves in others--even in our (and their) darkest days. And perhaps we will never sing There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood without the desperation of a man caught in the clutches of depression, separated from all hope apart from that saving blood.

**Article Information: Jennifer M. Trafton, "The Captain & the Castaway," Christian History & Biography, [Christianity Today International: Carol Stream, IL], Issue 81, Winter 2004, 34-36.

**Hymn and Biographical Information: For a listing of Cowper's hymns, click HERE. For Cowper's hymns that appeared in the Olney Hymnbook, click HERE. For further biographical information on Cowper, click HERE and HERE; Newton, click HERE and HERE.

Labels: , , , ,

UPDATED WITH FREE BOOK OFFER! Why Every Christian Should be a Student of Church History (and some free resources to help)










In his opening Church History I lecture, Frank James (President of RTS Orlando and Professor of Church History and Historical and Systematic Theology) shares five reasons every Christian should be a student of Church History:

1) Those who are ignorant of the past are doomed to repeat it. Every contemporary heresy is rooted in an historical heresy.

2) Through studying Church History, we are granted the opportunity to sit at the feet of some of the greatest men and women God has given to the Church. There is great wisdom in the past, and we can benefit from yesterday's wisdom. Don't let a little thing like a thousand years get in the way!

3) A knowledge of Church History will help us to set theological boundaries and reference points, and will aid us in recognizing heresy and false doctrine.


4) It's exciting--more dramatic than Murder She Wrote. It's the story of men and women
who were willing to lay their life on the line for the sake of truth. It's the story of men and women who changed the course of history, and if we read their story perhaps we can determine how we can change the course of history.

5) Church History gives us a broad perspective on the Church, and a cause for optimism. The Church has been inundated by a fatalistic pessimism. Church History reminds us that things have been bad before, and it gives us a bit of perspective on the present. God is moving History toward His goals. Despite acts of terrorism, economic woes, Roe V Wade, Church History reminds us that God is sovereign over History. It is God who establishes rulers and kings, and it is He who brings them down. Church History reminds us that God is in control!
So here are several helpful and valuable FREE resources to aid you in your study and understanding of Church History:

Reformed Theological Seminary has recently made a number of Church History (as well as other theological resources) available via ITunes. Church History 1 & 2, History of Missions, The Church and the World, and History and Theology of the Puritans (taught by J. I. Packer) are available free of charge HERE.

As we've mentioned here before, Covenant Seminary (PCA) in St. Louis also offers numerous online lectures available for free. These courses include: Ancient and Medieval Church History, Reformation and Modern Church History, and Calvin's Institutes. Pastors will find Bryan Chapell's Christ-Centered Preaching course to be another valuable resource.

Study on!

UPDATED: TO WIN A FREE BOOK, name the four men pictured! The first to do so correctly will win a free copy of Steve Lawson's book, Made In Our Image. See the comments section for further details!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 22

Congratulations ...

To friend, fellow-blogger, and proprietor of the Fundamentally Reformed blog, Bob Hayton, on the birth of his beautiful daughter, Rachel Charity Hayton. Rachel entered this world this past Lord's Day. Both mom and daughter are doing well!

Congrats from The World From Our Window team! May God be pleased to impart saving faith to Rachel in her childhood years!

Psalm 127:3 (ESV), "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward."
For pictures of this beautiful heritage and reward, click HERE.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 20

Harry Potter Author Admits Wizard Character is Gay: What will Evangelicals Say Now?

Intriguing news from Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling:

Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall.

After reading briefly from the final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," she took questions from audience members.

She was asked by one young fan whether Dumbledore finds "true love."

"Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause.

She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."

Dumbledore's love, she observed, was his "great tragedy."

"Oh, my ***," Rowling concluded with a laugh, "the fan fiction."
Continue reading HERE.

Recent months have witnessed numerous evangelicals defending the literary worthiness of Harry Potter for Christian children. What will those evangelical bloggers say now?

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 19

My TOP TEN Favorite Moments From Ken's Ordination

I know that this is a little late in coming, but I thought it might still be current enough to be of interest to our regular readers.

#10: The chance to meet and fellowship with many of our regular readers from Delhi Baptist Church (Ken's church).

My favorite moment was intercepting and returning for a touchdown a pass thrown by dpgorockieswintheworldseriesin2007 during a Sunday afternoon pick-up football game.
#9: The opportunity to meet Mike Hess for the first time.
Mike is an extremely friendly and outgoing guy with a very firm and aggressive handshake. He also has a penchant for back slapping.

Other than a slight struggle with parliamentary procedure, He did a very good job as the moderator for Ken's ordination examination. Early on he did try to reword a question only to have the questioner state, "I like my question." He didn't reword any more questions after that.
#8: The time I was able to spend with my family and close friends.
This was one of the most enjoyable family gatherings that we have had in quite some time. With four hard-headed, opinionated pastors in the family you can imagine some of the conversations we have had. In the past our theological and philosophical difference have led to some heated discussions, but we are maturing and were able to discuss and debate this time without anyone getting too emotional.

Derek Phillips, Ken's brother-in-law and one of my best friends from FBBC, was there for the whole weekend. It was a lot of fun spending time together talking and playing ping pong. It was a lot like the "good old days", with a few more kids and lot less hair.
#7: Ken admitting that he was a dispensationalist!
You read it right! Ken claimed dispensationalism! He might be a little leaky, but at least he is still keeping the faith.
#6: Ken calling God the "InstiTUTOR" (emphasis on the last syllable) of marriage.
This is a legitimate word that was used in the proper manner. The funny part was his pronunciation. I will be reminding him of this word for years to come! :)
#5: Ken admitting that "God is still growing on me."
Another funny moment that received a healthy amount of laughter.
#4: The look Ken gave Dad after he had asked a number of questions in a row.
Ken has developed a strong fatherly look of disapproval that he used on our father not to long into the questioning. It did seem to have an effect, but as you will see in #3, it didn't completely do the trick.
#3: The give and take over Ken's position on personal fellowship with Charismatics.
When dealing with pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit) my father asked Ken, "Would you fellowship with Charismatics?"

Ken asked, "Are you asking personally or corporately?"

Dad responded, "Both."

Ken stated that he would fellowship with any orthodox believer, including a Charismatic, on a personal level, but that he wouldn't fellowship with a Charismatic on a corporate level.

This opened the proverbial can of worms and was followed by a number of other pastors asking follow-up questions along the same line. These questions seemed overly repetitious and I could tell Ken was getting frustrated. As Ken kept defending the viability of the difference between personal and corporate fellowship. My father piped back in and asked, "Why?"

Out of frustration Ken responded, "Would you fellowship with a Charismatic?"

Dad replied, "This is not my ordination."

While the laughter rippled through the room Ken shot back, "I would love to be there when you are."

I'm not sure how many people caught the rejoinder since we were in the second row, but it was good that the moderator moved us along to a new topic.
#2: The wonderful job Ken did in presenting and defending his doctrinal statement.
Ken has matured tremendously in the past five years. His grasp of theology and his understanding of the implications of doctrine is outstanding. He was able to state and defend his theological convictions with humility and clarity. A number of respected, veteran pastors stated that Ken's preparation was exemplary and his presentation demonstrated a balance of passionate conviction and personal humility. I had no fear that he would do a great job, but he did far better than anyone I had ever seen and much better than I did. I was (and still am) proud to be his brother.

This is a different Ken Fields. He has changed from being a non-reader, to a passionate student; from theologically disinterested, to theologically-driven; from moderate Calvinism, to passionate five-point Calvinism; from cage-stage Calvinism, to humble, biblically-tolerant Calvinism. This change has had a tremendous impact on me. Over the past two years Ken has probably been my biggest theological influence. He has pointed me to great resources. He has guided me through theological transition. He has modeled, for the most part, how to have a gracious theological discussion. I am extremely thankful to God for him.
#1: The inspiring and humbling ordination service.
Ken planned a great service. The choir did a great job. The congregational hymns were theologically rich and some of my personal favorites. Derek Phillips gave a very biblical and personal charge to the congregation. As Ken's brother-in-law and college roommate he had very unique perspective on God's call to ministry in Ken's life.

My father gave a tremendous charge to Ken that every pastor needs to hear. Not because he unveiled some new biblical truth, but because his passion for the Lord, His Word, and the ministry is not only grounded in sound biblical exegesis, but also in thirty-seven (give or take a few) years of faithful pastoral experience. His passionate, personal, and practical charge was very humbling for me, and I'm sure it was for Ken as well.

I had the honor of praying during the laying on of hands. What a privilege it was to ask God's blessing on this servant whom God has ordained to the highest office of pastor. Ken's calling into the ministry was unanimously recognized by the council and overwhelmingly affirmed by his local church.

After the service there was a church fellowship where the members of Delhi Baptist Church gave testimony to their love and appreciation for their pastors. What a fitting and extremely encouraging end to the weekend.
I know Ken would say with me, "To God be the glory, great things He has done!"

Labels: , , ,

Two Major Voices in American Christianity Endorse Mitt Romney for President

And I think that you will begin to hear more in the upcoming months. One, a well known theologian who authored my favorite Systematic Theology to date - Wayne Grudem. The other known more as a pioneer in the fundamentalist college movement - Bob Jones III. You can read of Grudem's endorsement here and Jones' endorsement here.

Is there a compromise here? No, not from my standpoint. We all know by now of Romeny's Morminism and we all openly declare the doctrine of Morminism to be heretical and honestly speaking here...blasphemous. However, evangelicals flocked to George W. Bush's side in the last two elections. Speaking objectively and honestly here, President Bush is far from a traditional evangelical. I like him as a president, though I do not endorse every decision that he has made. But the last I checked Bush was a member of the United Methodist Church which isn't exactly the denominational affiliation I look for when looking for a church on vacation. That would be due to a number of reasons of course that I will not get into here.

Will I vote for Romney? Honestly, I really do not know. Speaking candidly here, I am not excited about the selection of candidates this time around. I do like former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. But he stands no chance to win simply due to the fact that he cannot raise the gargantuan amount of money needed to be a viable candidate.

I do, however, know who I will NOT be voting for - Hillary Clinton (need I say more), and she WILL be the democratic nominee. I do not think that there is any serious doubt about that one. You can go ahead and write up Rudy Giuliani as someone that I will NOT vote for as well. Unless there is some sort of miraculous change of heart regarding his stance on abortion. Even if Giuliani were to nominate an ultra-conservative pro-life VP it would not change the fact that he would still be the one nominating Supreme Court justices....not the VP.

It will be interesting to see how things shape up over the next few months and how many more evangelical voices will openly endorse which candidate.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 18

Get Piper's New Book on Justification for $5

HERE.

Husband Help: Remind your wife that five bucks won't even buy you a 10 piece McNugget meal at Mickey D's! And then tell her you that all along you've been planning on taking her to Red Lobster for a special date!

Labels: , , ,

Thank You for Your Prayers ... And an Update

To all who have been praying for our friend, Jonathan and his family--thank you. God has heard your prayers, and has intervened.

The news, however, is not all good (from a human perspective that is). Rather than me trying to explain the results of the surgery secondhand, I will allow Jonathan's wife to do so firsthand:

Thank you so much for your continued prayers. We praise the Lord that the doctors were able to remove all of the tumors in Jonathan's stomach and most of the tumor on his neck after 12 hours of surgery. The cancer was much more wide spread in his stomach than the CT scan showed so it was a bit of a surprise to all of us. The tumor in his neck was not completely removed due to possible damage to important nerves. We were praying that the residual tumors were only scar tissue, but God has a different story for us to tell. The tumor in his neck came back positive with cancer still growing. The down side is that we will be going through more chemo in the months to come, but I am so excited to see what God is going to do through us.

Please continue to pray for Jonathan's quick recovery. The doctor said the pain level will be manageable, and for most patients the hunger pangs are more difficult to endure. He will not be eating or drinking - even ice chips - for the next 2 - 5 days depending on how long it takes for his body to completely wake up after all the moving they did to his insides. Your prayers have been the encouragement and support to get me through this long day. Thank you.

It is now 11 pm and I have been here since 6 this morning. Jonathan is finally being moved to a room for the night and I was able to let my eyes rest on the most beautiful sight - my precious husband. God is so good. I am so thankful that He has given men the knowledge and ability to operate and take care of our loved ones. He is in control and NOTHING is a surprise to Him. I rest in the knowledge that I am exactly where God wants us to be - safe in the palm of His hand. There is no place I would rather be.
For further updates on Jonathan's condition and recovery, go HERE.

Thanks again to all of you for your prayers. Please continue to earnestly seek God's face regarding this most critical situation. May this family's faith in the good and sovereign plan of God encourage each of us to embrace each trial as a gift from His hand.

Labels: , , , , ,

Another YouTube Must-See

Props to Dan Phillips of Pyromaniacs for pointing me to this gem. All of us have come in contact with this kind of post-modern communication. Taylor Mali has a timely message for our post-modern generation with application to its Christian counterpart--the Emergent Church.

Labels: , ,

A Must-Hear: Ryken on Justification

You need to hear this--a detailed historic, Reformed defense of the biblical doctrine of Justification.

Listen and rejoice in the Christ-merited act of Justification.

Do so HERE.

HT: Justin Taylor

Labels: , , ,

Too Busy to be Busy

The title makes no sense...I know. However, this is exactly the kind of "rut" that many of us in the ministry get into. We find ourselves so incredibly busy with the administrative side of ministry that we eventually neglect the called side of ministry - the ministry of the Word and prayer. Unfortunately, it has become common for many a pastor and church leader to be so incredibly busy doing exactly what God has called them NOT to do - the work of the layperson in the pew. As a result, the pulpits become nothing more than a deserted wasteland of dry and dusty sermons with no passion and power. The sheep who are begging to be fed get nothing more than the crumbs and leftovers.

If we were to divide the past seven days of the average evangelical pastor's life between the following categories - time in the Word, prayer, message prep, time with wife and family, visitation, meetings, counseling, administrative duties, leisure time, planning, or one on one discipleship I would venture to say that the two main callings that God has placed on his life (prayer and the ministry of the Word) would be severely lacking!

Is this the fault of the pastor himself? Perhaps. However, many churches have changed what they expect from their pastor. Now he is more like a corporate CEO rather than a shepherd that is trying to lead his flock for the building up of the Body of Christ.

Brethren, free your pastor up to do what he has been called to do. Allow him to have substantial amounts of time in prayer, Bible study and sermon prep. If you do not, you are only robbing and hurting yourself and your congregation. Your church will be weaker, sin will be overlooked, the spiritual nourishment of the saints will be neglected and ultimately others within the church will be robbed of ministry opportunities that they have been called to do that they have mistakingly pawned off to the pastor.

Labels: ,