Monday, June 30

Is Family Planning Biblical?

Brother Hank from Lawn Gospel writes many challenging and thought-provoking articles on all things reproductively related. I highly recommend his most recent article to all of our two remaining readers here at TWFOW. (Mike and Ken, you will benefit from this.)

Here is a quote to whet your appetite. Enjoy.

Many in the Church today begin their consideration of the family (if they really ever consider it at all) awash in a sea of unchecked and unchallenged cultural assumptions - ranging in everything from the idea that children are mere accessories to marriage, to the acceptance of the epidemic use of permanent sterilization methods (vasectomy and tubal ligation) after a couples’ arbitrary “child quota” has been met. These assumptions have foundations, no doubt, but they are not Scriptural. But unfortunately many Christians don’t seem to mind.
Continue reading HERE.

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Friday, June 27

GARBC National Conference Highlights, Days 2 & 3

Due to time restrictions and a huge need for sleep, here are the brief highlights from days 2 and 3 of the GARBC National Conference in Ankeny, Iowa:

Jerry Lancaster, Pastor of Starkey Road Baptist Church in Seminole, Florida, addressed the topic of "A Prophecy of the Cross" from Psalm 22.

"Too many people in our world see Jesus only on the cross or in the manger, and not through the lens of the empty tomb."

"Be careful of overemphasizing the physical suffering of Christ on the cross because: (1) many suffered as much physically as Jesus. And (2) Jesus instructed the daughters of Jerusalem not to weep for Him, but for themselves and their children. Jesus does not need--nor does He want--our sympathy."

"The soldiers beneath the cross were living by chance; the Savior upon the cross was living by plan. They were gathering the things of this world while Jesus was dying to give sinners the next world."
Duke Crawford, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, addressed "The Accomplishment of the Cross" from Galatians 1:1-5:
"The cross points down in Galatians 1:4, displaying God's grace to man. The cross points up in Galatians 1:5, displaying God's glory. Before we can see His glory, we must taste His grace."

"The cross opens our hearts to God's grace and our eyes to God's glory."

"God is the good news that makes the good news good news forever and ever and ever."

"Perhaps the problem with our preaching of the cross is not that we preach it too infrequently; but that we don't preach it thoroughly."
Arial Abadiano, President of PARTNERS International in the Philippines addressed "The Enemies of the Cross" from Philippians 3:17-21:
"Christ did not go to the cross to reveal our glory; Christ went to the cross to reveal the Father's glory."

"Sometimes what we believe and preach about the cross is not incorrect; it's incomplete."

"Much of the problem with contemporary evangelical missions is that we are more interested in the souls of men than we are the glory of God."
Dr. Gary Anderson, President of Baptist Mid-Missions addressed "The Preaching of the Cross" from 1 Corinthians 1 and Galatians 6:
"The only recognition Paul sought was that of a servant of Christ's."

"Genuine humility revels in being used."

"A genuinely humble man cannot be humiliated (see Philippians 2)."

"We must believe with all our hearts that the preaching of the cross is our only means of having a soul-saving, nation-shaking, eternity-shaping influence for Christ."
Days 2 & 3 were spiritually nourishing, intellectually stimulating, and physically draining. Although many church members wish us a happy vacation before we leave, I inform them that these conferences are anything but a vacation.

Still, our family has enjoyed the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with old friends (and college roommates) and to make new ones.

The conference has been a spiritually refreshing time of sharpening our focus upon the center of human history and God's grand eternal plan: Jesus and His cross.

And although I may not always agree with some of my association's theological leanings and tendencies (in regards to hermeneutics ... and some emphases), I am thankful to be part of a group that continues to proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

To God be the glory for Jesus and His cross!

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Wednesday, June 25

For the Sake of the Gospel, Put the Cell Phones Away

I wonder how Spurgeon would have dealt with the matter of cell phones ... and BlackBerry's ... and PDA's infiltrating the church.

Some of you are aware that I am currently attending our association's Annual Conference in Ankeny, Iowa. Attending conferences affords me an opportunity that I otherwise rarely enjoy--sitting behind people in a worship gathering. It also has opened my eyes to the existence of a major problem among today's conference-goers (and presumably Sunday's churchgoers). It's the constant text messaging.

Today I sat behind a row of seven people--two of which were engaged in rather lengthy text message conversations (at least their fingers were moving in rapid succession along their BlackBerry's buttons; and if it wasn't text-messaging, it was that blasted bubble game). Here's what that means:

1) If the row in front of me is an accurate representation of all rows at our association's conference (and of your church), then nearly 1/3 of churchgoers are involved in virtual conversations with others rather than hearing from God.

2) Today's experience was eye-opening, to say the least. Sitting in front of me were pastors, pastor's wives, pastor's kids, and college presidents. If these ecclesiastical and educational leaders are engaging in virtual conversations when the Word is being spoken, how many "regular" Christians are doing so in the gatherings of the church?

3) BlackBerry's have displaced Bibles on the laps of this generation's Christians (Christian leaders, nonetheless). Perhaps we are more interested in reading others' thoughts than we are hearing God's. Perhaps we are more interested in being heard than hearing from God.

Perhaps two of the seven individuals sitting in the row in front of me were responding to life-altering emergencies.

Or perhaps the presence of BlackBerry's in the laps of churchgoers is a sign of a much greater and deeply life-altering emergency: we are raising a generation of BlackBerry educated, biblically illiterate children and youth. They are the ones sitting beside us in church.

For the sake of the Gospel and our children's souls ... please put the BlackBerry's away.

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Tuesday, June 24

Blogging the GARBC National Conference, Day 1

Coupla introductory things:

1) I continue to enjoy the summer blog hiatus.

2) These posts on my association's National Conference do not officially end this long-needed blog-break.

3) For the few (but faithful) readers who have remained through this painfully sparse summer on the blog ... and for the fewer still who know what the letters GARBC represent (General Association of Regular Baptist Churches), this series of brief reporting posts are for you.

Now for the good stuff:


1) Our association's annual conference was originally scheduled for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The rain God dumped on Iowa changed those plans (the big debate around these parts is whether Iowans represent the just or the unjust of Matthew 5:45!). The conference was relocated to my alma mater, Faith Baptist Bible College and Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa.

2) Our association's National Representative (read: leader, CEO, General Manager, President, or whatever leadership title fits your fancy) kicked off the conference with an address from Hebrews 2:7-18, entitled, "A Plan Fit For The Savior" (the conference's theme is "The Glory of the Cross"). Following are a few loosely transliterated quotes from Dr. John Greening's address:

"The cross seems to be the most unfitting place for glory."

"Jesus Christ and His cross are at the center of everything--from the universe to history to our local churches. Let's be careful to keep Him there in our preaching."

"Much of today's evangelical preaching lauds the horizontal reconciliation provided through the cross; yet the clear thrust and intent of reconciliation is vertical: Christ--in His cross--reconciled sinners to God."

"Because sinners are dead in their trespasses and sins, their only hope is for Jesus Christ to breathe His life into them."
Dr. Greening's address emphasized the amazing and marvelous grace God has shown us in Christ. Without intending to stir up any conference controversy, I must admit that Dr. Greening's address seemed overtly Calvinistic (and monergistic). Of course, it would be nearly impossible to preach from Hebrews 2 (even the semi-controversial verse 9) without the address sounding overtly Calvinistic! In all seriousness, Dr. Greening's address on the glory of Christ's cross stirred both my intellect and my emotions.

To God be the glory in Jesus' cross!

That's the Day 1 wrap-up from the GARBC National Conference in Ankeny, Iowa.

Greatest Conference Anticipation: I am anxiously awaiting Dr. Myron Houghton's Thursday workshop entitled "A Baptist's Perspective on Reformed Theology." Could there be some pre-4th fireworks??!!!

Coupla concluding things:

1) What I'm currently reading:

Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). The authors link to our blog (not sure why ... except that these men of God must be full of grace!). A review will be forthcoming. Until then: buy it and read it. You'll be glad you read Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck's first tag-team work. Lord-willing it won't be their last.

MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response by Sam Waldron. It's controversial--I like that. It's gracious--I like that, too. It's Reformed and biblical--I really like that!

2) Who I'm rooting for:

The Cardinals. Perhaps it's the Cubs' year. But then again, they are the Cubs. Seems like another disappointing season isn't too far-fetched.

Oh, yeah, and the Royals are experiencing a bit of a resurgence over the past two weeks. We'll see if it lasts.

I will close this somewhat random post with a unscientific poll. Which of the following is most likely to happen?

1. The Kansas City Royals enjoy a winning season in 2008.

2. The Chicago Cubs finally break their decade of futility and win it all in 2008.

3. John Piper invites blog-mate Mike Hess to speak at the 2010 Pastors Conference.

You make the call!

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Wednesday, June 11

Good Argument Against Evangelical Political Causes

"The so-called Religious Right had great plans to reverse the moral trends of our nation. We are told that we have helped elect presidents and have impacted public policy and even the selection of judges. But by identifying these gains as those won by the "Religious Right," namely, Christians who are in cahoots with a particular party, we have made this nation believe that the church is a political base rather than the dispenser of the Gospel. Any gains we have made (mixed at best) came about at the price of the loss of the Gospel in the wider culture. We have cheapened Christ before a watching world."
-Erwin Lutzer, Is God on America's Side (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008), 51-52

Since we will NOT endorse any political candidate here at this blog we might as well make it abundantly clear that neither major presidential candidate inspires much by way of what evangelical believers stand for. There is a danger for those of us who live in a democracy. A danger that teaches political involvement somehow enhances the cause of the Gospel. No friends, if anything it has hindered our cause and has gotten many a pastor and congregation off course.

For as much as I detest Senator Obama's deplorable position on abortion and wonder why many in the evangelical world have become alarmingly enamored with him I can assure you that a win by him will NOT catch God off guard. Let us be reminded in this heated political season that it is a common fallacy among many a believer to think that politics can somehow enhance the cause of the Gospel.

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Thursday, June 5

230-23

This was the final tally of the congregation's vote to dismiss a pastor who refused to administer Communion to unbelievers. This pastor had served at this church for twenty three faithful years, was a well respected theologian and had lovingly shepherded his church through the Scriptures as to what the Lord's Table represented and who it was for.

Who was this pastor? None other than Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the most well respected and highly regarded theologian in American history was dismissed from his church by a vote of 230-23 because a man who knew he was called of God would rather be right doctrinally than live comfortably in compromise.

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