The Capranica

Comments on theology and life

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Gospel Highway

Little did the ancient Romans know that the Providence of God was directing them to build an old world superhighway for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to the referenced report, the 535 mile Via Egnatia is regaining modern-day attention.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Calvinism and Declining Baptisms

Bobby Welch, current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, is very concerned about baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention. He is also concerned about Calvinists within the Convention and what they are doing to the SBC's baptism ratio. He posts his concerns on his church's July 10 Newsletter and makes for an interesting read. Regarding Bro. Bobby's recent cry for one million baptism's this year, see my previous comments at FIDE-O. Concerning his Cavinistic concerns and claims, see Rob Wilkerson's post and a post by Tom Ascol [part 1], [part 2], and [part 3]. I too am concerned about baptisms within the Convention. I am very concerned about my own personal evangelism and that of my congregation. We would no doubt be in Bro. Welch's crosshairs for our lack of water stirred within the past year. I am grieved when the church is not seeing people openly profess their repentance and conversion through the waters of baptism. But, I'm also concerned about many of the baptisms that ARE taking place. In my experience, many SBC pastors [including myself at one time] are ready and willing to dunk anyone who will repeat a prayer after a minimalist [at best] presentation of the gospel. Perhaps we should also be taking statistics on just how many newly dunked professors of faith are also abandoning their confession and their church. I am not convinced that we are merely ineffective in our follow-up techniques and marketing strategies. Pastor Welch did not discuss anything about the gospel we preach, only the numbers he says we should produce. In the end, is the Father going to hold us most accountable for WHAT we preached or how many we reached? Your theological position will determine much of the way you answer this question. While I don't want to excuse the evangelistic laziness of many so-called Calvinists, I do want ask, why is it that we must measure our evangelistic effectiveness by the initial response to the gospel rather than the persevering life of increasing godliness? (Jesus' parable of the soils suggests the initial response may not be a saving response.) Probably, because the figures for the latter are simply too difficult to obtain. Perhaps because the reality of the latter may be too discouraging to discuss. I am thankful for Pastor Welch's zeal for the lost. I am deeply convicted by it. I am less thankful for his misplaced accusations for the cause of our evangelistic complacency. Numbers don't reveal everything nor necessarily the more important issues.

Baptists Persecuted

From Voice of the Martyrs: This week at the Baptist World Centenary Congress Baptist leaders around the globe shared stories of being persecuted for their faith. Some of the reports of persecution included church burnings in South Asia and Christians being deported from Western Europe. However, the good news is that YOU and I can do things to support these persecuted believers. We can pray for them daily. You can let your church know about the persecuted and educate your church. And you can share information that ministries that specialize and focus on the persecuted send out. Check out VOM's blog. I've begun syndicating it.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Motherhood Is Just One Among Many Options

Albert Mohler posts a distrubing note about the abortion industry in Great Britain. Many troubling quotes come from this article, but one struck me this morning. According to a representative of the leading abortion provider in Great Britain, "Motherhood is just one among many options open to women and it is not surprising that younger women want to prioritise other things. We should stop seeing abortion as a problem and start seeing it as a legitimate and sensible solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy." This is precisely what the Apostle Paul was referring to in 1 Timothy 2:15 when he says, "but women will be preserved [lit. saved] through the bearing of children, if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." Paul's point in the context of the passage is that women, particularly in the church in Ephesus, were abandoning their roles as mothers for other roles, primarily that of public teachers in the church. According to Paul and Moses in Genesis, this isa similar role reversal to that which took place in the garden of Eden. In other words, to reject the role of motherhood for other priorities, is to reject God's purposes and design. This is tantamount to making oneself God and exchanging His purposes for one's own. The result: an outright rejection of God Himself. A woman is not saved merely by having a baby. The terminology and context suggest her salvation is connected to her acceptace of God's design for motherhood. In other words a woman demonstrates her faith by her submission to the purposes of God, continuing in them with faith, love, sanctity and self-restraint. Herein is another mark of why the abortion industry is not merely anti-life, but anti-God.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Why I Am a Baptist - Part 1 - My Conversion

Just for fun, over the next few weeks, I'm going to post a few thoughts regarding why I am a Baptist-flavored Christian. I did not begin as a Baptist baby. I was actually christened into the methodical liberalism of the United Methodist Church; therefore, my initial hatred for Baptists was birthed through weekly attendance in a religious culture antithetical to any Baptist distinctives. Then came conversion. Not mine, but my parents. Yes, my parents came to Christ under the gospel preaching (expository preaching, mind you) of a Baptist pastor and church. I was steeped in self-imposed hatred for the church following fourteen years of watching weekly examples of religious hypocrisy. My hatred for the church was directly confronted by the new joy and zeal I witnessed in my parents. Though I uselessly fought them as they (almost literally) drug me to our new Baptist church (I can't speak to their ministry now), I was convicted week after week by the preaching of God's Word and the people converted to Christ. I would watch as people zealously and reverently worshiped Christ in song, prayer and attentive intake of the expository messages. It caused me to secretly study my Bible. I had a Baptist hang-up though. I knew, if I were to give in to the conviction of Christ, I would have to go swimming in their narrow pool, located prominently in the back wall of the sanctuary, high enough so all in the audience could see. I just knew that the only prize these baptistic zealots desired was another notch on the their gospel gun gained through my public soaking. So, I set off to privately prove to myself that my infant sprinkling was sufficient. I was desperately sick of my Godlessness and deeply convicted of my need for Christ to save me from my sinfulness - but only so long as I didn't have to make anything public, especially in the watery way the Baptists demanded. My agonizing study went on for about a year. The Bible proved fruitful. Not in confirming my passion to remain private and previously sprinkled, but in convincing me that truly converted people were publicly baptized. It only took a quick examination of the biblical terminology and the New Testament examples to convince me that sprinkling an unbelieving infant was not what the Bible had in mind for a truly converted pagan like me. My desire for Christ overwhelmed my passion for privacy and I completely yielded my life to the authority and converting power of Christ. My conversion, as a result of seeing the supernatural change in my parents and the injunctions of Scripture, was the beginning of my days not only as a Christian, but a Baptist-flavored one. Internal change of heart and mind; a growing hatred for sin and increasing passion for the holiness of Christ were the unstoppable results. For awhile, I was a content Baptist. But that would change (part 2 to follow).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Favorite Preachers

Adrian Warnock recently extended a call to the Christian blogosphere to list up to five of our favorite preachers. As I think through the preachers I find myself gravitating toward through my tape (yep, I still have a billion of them and I occasionally still pop one in), CD and mp3 players, the following seem to gain most of my attention: John MacArthur, Pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California, whose preaching is featured through the famed, Grace to You. Dr. MacArthur is my preaching hero. No other expositor of Scripture has influenced me more. Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and featured speaker through the Truth for Life media ministry. When I heard Begg a few years ago at a Pastor's meeting in Ontario, CA, I was hooked. Daniel I. Block. Dr. Block has recently become a personal favorite. Until only a few weeks ago, Dr. Block was the John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Currently he serves as professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. Through a recent seminar with Dr. Block and listening to a number of his messages, he has become my favorite Old Testament preacher. Mark Dever, pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., and executive director of 9 Marks Ministries, became a favorite first through what I read and eventually through his preaching ministry. John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN, and featured through Desiring God Ministries, has been a long-time favorite. His expository exultation is always a refreshment to my soul.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Purpose Driven PyroMarketing posts a powerful discussion (linked in the title) on the marketing techniques that have been used by Zondervan and Rick Warren to promote the best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life. Not only is the marketing of this book facinating, but the apparent influence Warren placed on publishers to not allow the information to find its way to the general public.

Dever on Discipline

Always hot on the trail of the latest good reads and tidbits, Justin Taylor points us to the Christianity Today interview with Mark Dever on the subject of church discipline. I am eagerly anticipating his new book, The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel.

Video Gaming for God's Glory??

What the Christian community needs is another way to distract people from reading. If only God had given us a video game, instead of a book perhaps the world would be more Christian. Perhaps then postmillennialism would prevail. Have no fear. There are a host of Christian gaming groups who are now vying for the attention the video gamers of the Christian world (see the linked article). Their chief goal: to convert readers into gamers. You had to see it coming. The Left Behind video game is on the horizon and according to one video gaming guru, "'Left Behind' will not likely convert gamers to Christianity, but will need to convert Christians (the books' fan base) to video gaming." Instead of X-Box, maybe Christians could become more clever and begin marketing the "Cross-Box." How shortsighted I have been. If only we would play more video games, our maturity in Christ might increase dramatically. I will hold my comments for those who immerse themselves in the violent sorts of video gaming and instead express my sarcastic dismay at the gullible Christian community who tends to find every reason not to read, but merely immerse themselves in vain, imaginative, short-lived pleasures played out in front of a TV. God help us.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Grotesque Evidence of False Religion

This article is another facinating display of the destructive logical conclusions derived from false religions. The slaughter and sacrifice of children as temples are being dedicated is only one part of this ancient Aztec religion.

Patterson Online

Baptist Press reports that Southwestern Theological Seminary President, Paige Patterson, now has an online presence. His wife Dorothy is also newly represented on the web.

Exposing the Hatemongers

An Op-Ed in the New York times makes for interesting reading today. Thomas L. Friedman suggests that the State Department begin a War of Ideas Report, much like their human rights report, and list those whos idealogies suggest physical harm to others. His article is a good read. However, I wonder who it will be to police these ideas? Who will determine what is a proper and an improper idea? Who will be the ones to warn Americans and the World as to what is unacceptable hate and what is acceptable free speech? We are in fact in a war of ideas. This is the very battle the Apostle Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 10:5. Our weapons are more than merely ideological though, they are spiritual. "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Evangelicalism Lost? !

Fire-boy Phil Johnson, posts some good articles this week and last on the downfall of historic evangelicalism. Our favorite pyro-pal suggests that the tolerance cult of our culture has made evangelicalism all inclusive and fad-driven. He even suggests that the state of evangelicalism is worse today than ever. One read of any of these articles and one must agree that the moniker PyroManiac is most appropriate for evangelicalism's most prolific heresy arsonists.

The Jewish Catacombs of Rome

According to this article, the Jews had an active, perhaps persecuted, community in Rome during the first century. The article further suggets that the well-known Christian practice of burials in the Roman catacombs was a result of adopting the Jewish practice. Another link in the transition between Judaism and Chrisitianity in the first century. Interesting article, anyone have any comments on the implications?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Shortfall in Graham's Curtain Call

The Washington Times reports that the final tally for Billy Graham's final crusade has come in, yet, the funds have come up short. How far short? Two million dollars!! The New York crusade was the most expensive crusade in the history of the Graham Evangelistic Association, coming in at around $6.8 million. One crusade - comes close to a typical mega-church's annual budget. And we wonder why the proclamation of the Gospel in America is tainted with materialism. This is not to suggest that what Graham says from his pulpit is erroneous. Yet, how prevalent it seems to be that the message is often drowned out by the trappings used to dress it up. At a projected budget of almost $7 million for a single evangelistic event, could we really still cling to the same purpose of ministry the Apostle Paul advocated? "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:2-5).

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

MR John Roberts - no MRS.

The President has made his choice. I heard while driving home from work: John G. Roberts, Jr. We'll be watching the reports as they come in. See Justin Taylor's note regarding Roberts. I'll be watching to see what Bill Kristol has to say also. UPDATE: Watching Fox News, Bill Kristol suggested, just before the announcement, that the President's choice is not a safe choice, but a provocative one, suggesting that John Roberts is a strong conservative. Kristol also said that the safe choice was a woman (sticking to his previous revised suggestion). Kristol has also suggested that Roberts is not as conservative as Scalia and Thomas, but more along the lines of the current Chief Justice Rehnquist. WED UPDATE: See Bill Kristol's comments from today in The Weekly Standard. Charles Schumer has thrown down the gauntlet, noting that Judge Roberts received his negative vote previously for a lower court of appeals appointment. Obviously, the liberal side is amassing against him already. Roberts has already has a wiki as the nominee for the court.

More on Osama and Saddam

The Weekly Standard posts another interesting article on the links between Osama and Saddam. This article particularly notes the mainstream media press reports from the late 1990s on the connection between Osama and Saddam.

SpongeBob Has Joined the UCC!

In an article posted yesterday in The Weekly Standard, author Mark Tooley reviews the intiguing past of the United Church of Christ (UCC) in American history. The once Israel-supporting Calvinists are now bona-fide Israel-hating liberals. While Tooley chronicles the rapid decline in the denomination's membership, he does note who is one of their new supporters: the infamous SpongeBob Squarepants! Ah yes, a denomination for the cultural elite!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Atheists on the Offensive

The L.A. Times prints an interesting article on the new public relations offensive of atheists. They appeal to human reason and naturalism as their source of truth and are seeking celebrity and political status in order to change the existing cultural bias against them. The newest brand of atheism calls itself "The Brights." Here is their statement of belief: "What is a bright? A bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview A bright's worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements The ethics and actions of a bright are based on a naturalistic worldview." Furthermore, they state: "The movement's three major aims are:

Promote the civic understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic worldview, which is free of supernatural and mystical elements.

Gain public recognition that persons who hold such a worldview can bring principled actions to bear on matters of civic importance.

Educate society toward accepting the full and equitable civic participation of all such individuals." This is the new atheism that seeks to be more subtle in its attempts to remove God from the culture. Promote naturalism and reason and people will abandon God is the basis of Bright religion. Obviously, their belief system is hardly new, but makes for interesting reading and, of course, blogging.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Kristol Says Mrs. NOT Mr.

Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard originally touted that Sandra O'Connor, not Rehnquist, would be the first to resign. He was right. He further suggested that Alberto Gonzales would be Bush's pick. Kristol has changed his mind. Why? Kristol suggests that the First Lady has had something to do with the shift, with her comments this week from Africa. Mrs. Bush wants a Mrs. on the Supreme Court. Mr. Bush may be compliant. Bush gave hints but no names today on what kind of nominee he will choose. Of course, his suggestion that she/he will be "mainstream" is an open definition. Perhaps early this week we will hear the name.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Iraq-al Qaeda Connection ! ?

In this week's "The Weekly Standard," Stephen F. Hayes & Thomas Joscelyn present a very interesting and compelling case from recently revealed information from the fallen Iraqi regime of a direct tie between Sadaam Hussein and the al-Qaeda organization.

Together for the Gospel Video Promos

Justin Taylor's blog just brought to my attention the video promos for the upcoming conference, Together for the Gospel. These are great snipits not merely promoting the conference but demonstrating fellowship between four men who have genuine theological and ecclesiological differences, but who are completely committed to the same singular gospel of Christ and the major tenets of true evangelical orthodoxy. Oh, that we might all develop such friendships built around such commitments.

Greeting Cards and Human Depravity

Dr. Al Mohler blogs about his own greeting card mishap and launches into a cultural evaluation of where greeting cards are headed these days. I had no idea. Which means that I rarely walk into a Hallmark store. I prefer the cards at The Crackerbarrel to Hallmark.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Studies Show . . . ???

The authority of objective scientific studies is often touted and used as an oft played trump card over many moral and biblical convictions. Even some sincere Christians will dump the Bible because the studies show. . . . Linked above is a rarely published discussion of the obvious. Scientific claims of conclusive information more often than not turn out to be not so conclusive after all. This report serves as another drop in thebucket of my chagrin regarding the indefinite results of very definitive claims from the scientific community. The article notes: "New research highlights a frustrating fact about science: What was good for you yesterday frequently will turn out to be not so great tomorrow." "The sobering conclusion came in a review of major studies published in three influential medical journals between 1990 and 2003, including 45 highly publicized studies that initially claimed a drug or other treatment worked." "Subsequent research contradicted results of seven studies - 16 percent - and reported weaker results for seven others, an additional 16 percent. That means nearly one-third of the original results did not hold up, according to the report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association." Amazingly, one researcher concluded, "The general public should not panic" about refuted studies, he said. "We all need to start thinking more critically." Really? More critical thinking by rational people might actually lead to a more moral, perhaps biblical mindset. I'm not sure our Adamic nature will allow that to happen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mrs. Hinn on the Excessive Drug

If you have not seen Mrs. Benny Hinn's excessive pulpit actitivy, this video clip is absolute must see TV! I think she might be on "The Excessive Pill." HT: Between Two Worlds, Justin Taylor

The Excessive Drug

Excessive gambling among victims of Parkinson's disease can now be linked to one of the most popular drugs used to treat the malady. In fact, a number of excessive behaviors, like sex and shopping, can also be attributed to the drug Mirapex among Parkinson's patients. The article linked above gives a number of "testimonies" of people caught up in virtually unrestrainable urges to excessively gamble (among other excessive behaviors). As soon as they stopped taking the drug, the urge was not as strong. As you might expect, a California attorney is filing a class action lawsuit against the drug company. This is an amazing drug. What the study did not indicate (at least the article citing it) was whether any of these people ever had any excessive impulses before the drug. A biblical evaluation would suggest that the impulse has always resided within. The behavior was no doubt already a part of their lives. Perhaps the drug so affected these people that their will to be self-controlled simply succumbed to the already residing desire to sin. Jesus said, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." [Mark 7:20-23] According to the popular "course of this world," it appears that the excessive nature of our American behavior can never be a result of indwelling sin. In other words, we must find any means possible to deflect the guilt that comes from sin away from ourselves, creating some answer that will explain why we are not at fault. Wow, another testimony to the truth of God's word regarding the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Obligation of Theological Study

My wife, Kelly and I have begun reading John L. Dagg's Manual of Theology. Dagg, writing in the late 1800s, produced the first systematic theology by a Southern Baptist. Tom Nettles perhaps overstates his applause for Dagg, but says, "For clairty, cogency, and sincerity of expression, no theological writer of the 19th century surpasses John L. Dagg. . . . He died in June of 1884, as one of the most respected men in Baptist life and remains one of the most profound thinkers produced by his denomination." Here is the opening quote from his Manual. The study of religious truth ought to be undertaken and prosecuted from a sense of duty, and with a view to the improvement of the heart. When learned, it ought not to be laid on the shelf, as an object of speculation; but it should be deposited deep in the heart, where its sanctifying power ought to be felt. To study theology, for the purpose of gratifying curiosity, or preparing for a profession, is an abuse and profanation of what ought to be regarded as most holy. To learn things pertaining to God, merely for the sake of amusement, or secular advantage, or to gratify the mere love of knowledge, is to treat the Most High with contempt.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Praying About the Storm

How should we pray about this storm? Al Mohler has some pertinent thoughts from his blog linked above. What appears a random choice of natural elements is really a sovereign system of divine intentions. Jesus said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father" (Matthew 10:29). Within the wrath of hurricane Dennis, a branch will not break apart from God's divine intentions. I have friends and family who will feel Dennis' impact today, the Lord's Day. I pray that the goodness of God through the tragedies that strike will become very clear today, even now. Easy to say while on the left coast, right? Well, it was only a month ago that the earth shook us during offertory. God is in complete control and His purposes may be beyond our tracing out on this day. Yet, the tangled mess of a multitude of circumstances will one day be seen as the perfectly orchestrated tapestry of God's grace. And in awe we will bless His holy name.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

From London

Phil Johnson, Grace to You guru, and the author behind the Pyromaniac mask has spent the past week in London, England. Having been reading his reports all week about his ministry at Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle, I was instantly curious to know of his well-being and responses to the terror attacks in London. Phil chronicles his reports from this tragic day. Pray for he and his wife Darlene as they make their way back tomorrow.

Jabez Is 5 Years Old!

I just received this most encouraging e-mail from "Coming soon! "The Prayer of Jabez, Fifth Anniversary Edition" by Bruce Wilkinson Rediscover the simple prayer that has transformed millions of lives. In the fifth anniversary edition of this international best- seller Bruce Wilkinson will introduce you to Jabez, a simple man who sought God’s blessing and was overwhelmed by His response. Put this prayer into practice and experience the Lord’s remarkable results! Save 36% off the retail price of $10.99. Our price: $6.99!" Yahooo! If Jabez could only see how his prayer is being used - he would probably be "a simple man who sought God's blessing and was overwhelmed with our response." I guess people's borders did not expand enough in the first five years.

Balanced Training for Ministry

Steve Camp, a contemporary Christian musician (who I have great respect for and enjoy his music) has posted a thought provoking article on his blog today entitled, "It's the Church . . . Stupid." His contention is that the seminaries have hijacked training for pastoral ministry and the local church is left with the theological error and poor pastors that result from such terrorism. The subject of ministry training is much on my heart. For the first eight and a half years of my serving as a pastor, I had no formal theological training. By God's good providence, I was able to attend The Master's Seminary (TMS) in Los Angeles. Steve speaks highly of TMS in his article and he even served on staff at Grace Community Church (connected with TMS) during my time there. I have been able to live on both sides of the spectrum and see the need for both practical ministry training in the local church and formal theological education. Currently I am pursuing further training at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary while serving full time as a pastor of a local church. Steve's article scratches where I itch. His critique of the majority of formal education is needed. While he seems to lump almost all seminaries into the liberal category (except TMS) for their disconnect from the local church in ministry training, he still hits on a critical issue. Where is the local church in the process of training men for pastoral ministry? In my opinion, Steve offers some good points of critique. What is needed is a practical and effective cooperative effort between formal institutions and solid local churches. I hear the cry of many coming out of seminary that they received no practical training in the realities that strike as a freshly graduated seminarian becomes a rookie pastor. And Steve Camp has hit the other side of the issue: where is the local church in the theological AND practical training of ministers? My contention is that we need both. The local church is the headquarters for equipping the saints. And from my vantage point, saints would include seminarians. TMS is a good model, but it is limited. While the school is housed directly on the campus of a thriving and solid local church, the opportunity and reality for the vast majority of the students to be thoroughly trained by the elders and pastoral staff through significant ministry involvement is simply not realistic. There are not enough elders/pastors and ministry scenarios to include all of the student body of TMS. Even if there were enough, Grace Church is not a realistic model of the kind of church that ninety-nine percent of the students will ever serve. By the way, I am sure that the administration of TMS could give ample testimony of quite a number of TMS students splitting their first congregations, if they even survived. If they cannot, I could provide a few. Let me also say. I value my time and training at TMS immensely. I do not know of another seminary quite like it. The faculty is theologically unified and focused on training men to be faithful expositors of the Word of God. I would recommend any prospective seminary student to look into TMS. TMS, despite their connection to a local church, is still an academic institution. And without significant ministry involvement, most graduates from this institution still lack sufficient education for the practical side of ministry. There must be a balance. The local church cannot assemble, support and house a first rate faculty given to full-time biblical scholarship and gifted in the formal theological education of would-be expositors. Furthermore, woe to the seminary that abandons the traditional training in theology, exegesis, historical theology, the biblical languages, etc., for a more practical approach. Can there be a cooperative balance? We need churches (not merely a single church) directly connected to seminaries in the formal education and evaluation of ministerial students. It is my aim to pursue this balance. In the future I will blog more specifically about it. I am pursuing my Doctor of Ministry project in this very area. I pray that there can be transformation in the way seminaries work with church and churches work with seminaries for the effective equipping of solid pastors.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Southern Baptists: The Unregenerate Denomination reviews an article by Jim Ellif on the discrepancy in many Southern Baptist congregations (Southern Baptists, An Unregenerate Denomination): the number of members verses the number of attenders. This has always been an issue in my mind. Why do we allow hordes of non-attending members to remain members? Honestly, we are not the only denomination that does this, we just brag about our membership rolls more vociferously. In addition to Jim Ellif's article, I would recommend reading Mark Dever's article, "Why We Disciplined Half Our Church." While we jump on Southern Baptist Churches who brag of meaninglessly high membership numbers, shouldn't we also be wary of those who boast of large crowds but amazingly small membership in comparison? Is it a healthy church that has 15,000 in attendance on a weekend, yet has only 3,000 to 5,000 on the membership roll? If the crowd on Sunday is inordinately larger than the number who have officially joined themselves to the congregation, have we adequately communicated the necessity of the local church? Have we consistently and clearly communicated the responsibilities of Christians to one another? Just a thought.

Everyone Discriminates

Albert Mohler notes today how a bank in Manchester, England has asked a Christian organization to close its accounts with the bank because of its belief sregarding homosexuality. I wonder if the bank also has account holders from abberrant religious groups who oppose homosexuality? Any Islamic organizations? Mormons? What about the Church of England and Roman Catholic groups? Have they also been asked to close their accounts? I bet it depends on the account balances more than it does the belief systems. Mohler notes for us another organization that intolerantly and inaccurately tries to enforce tolerance.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

America the Beautiful on the Lord's Day?

Today I will receive a host of comments because we are not singing any American patriotic songs in our worship services. Why not "America the Beautiful" on the Lord's Day? "O beautiful for pilgrim feet, whose stern, impassioned stress, A thorough-fare for freedom beat, Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law." What does this all mean? And why would I want to sing to America on the Lord's Day? I have often wondered about this (normally silently), trying to comprehend why it is we want to dress God in American clothing more arduously than we desire to see Americans clothed in Christ's righteousness? I will be accused of not being loyal to America, unpatriotic, unsupportive of our troops. All because we do not sing patriotic songs on Sunday. I have to wonder (now out loud) why it is that Christians want to celebrate our nation's birth on the one day during the week that we come apart from the world to focus our attention corporately on Christ? Isn't the forth of July tomorrow, not today anyway? I wonder how many Christians will think patriotic thoughts, sing patriotic songs and take time out on July 4th to actually pray for this country. No, in many minds, that is what Sunday is for. I raise my protest. Those who gather on the Lord's Day desperately need to be focused upon the Lord. We will pray for our country, our troops, the sins of our nation as well as the sins of our own hearts. But we generally do this every week. We do see America's need of Christ. That's why we focus on Christ, not America on EVERY Lord's Day. Instead of "America the Beautiful," or "My Country, Tis of Thee," we will be singing, "May Jesus Christ Be Praised:" "Ye nations of mankind, in this your concord find, May Jesus Christ be praised! Let all the earth around, Ring joyous with the sound: May Jesus Christ be praised." Be sure to read Michael Lawrence's article Salt and Light Inside the Beltway for a great article from a Southern Baptist Church just five blocks behind the Supreme Court.

The Flap Over Gonzales

The New York Times has certainly picked up on the scent of Alberto Gonzales being the justice to replace Sandra O'Connor. The Times further notes that conservatives are pleased enough to have Gonzales enforcing the laws as Attorney General, but not evaluating and interpreting them as a justice on the Supreme Court. Specifically, Gonzales is less than trustworthy on the issue of abortion. This will be a boisterous few weeks. See Bill Kristol's predictions regarding O'Connor and Gonzales, noted in my blog from Friday.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Philip Ryken posts a great review of the ministry of Philip Ryken. Ryken is the Senior Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA. I recently noticed not only his recent publications, but also a few auido clips on Many of these clips are short applications of theology to every area of life, much like Challies notes on his blog. Listen for yourself to see if you believe that Dr. Ryken is one of the world's foremost preachers of our day.

Pushing Jesus Aside

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a moderate-liberal breakaway group from the Southern Baptist Convention, is beginning to show its face more clearly with every passing year. At this year's convention, the Fellowship revised its constitution and bylaws, removing from their purpose statement clauses that directly referred to Jesus Christ. Interestingly, the news report from CBF's web-site gives little detail regarding the changes. Baptist Press (the SBC new organization) provides quotations of the past and new article's wording: Under Article II of the CBF's previous constitution, the purpose of the Fellowship was described as that of bringing together Baptists who desire to call out God's gifts in each person in order that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread throughout the world in glad obedience to the Great Commission. The revised article in the constitution describes the Fellowship's purpose as that of serving Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission. Further, the CBF has removed language that formerly referred to the authority of the Scriptures. Again, the CBF report does not mention this. Baptist Press notes: The revised article also does not reference the authority of the Bible without the aid of creeds, as did the original. Instead, the revised article cites the CBF's belief in soul freedom, Bible freedom, church freedom and religious freedom. Freedom to believe anything one desires. Freedom to think anything you would like regarding the Bible and regarding Jesus or the lack of Jesus' necessity. The CBF is finally beginning to become more open about its liberal lean. The CBF will be a good fit for the modern drift toward pluralism among Christian organizations and churches. With every passing year, those who will hold to a faithful commitment to the authority of the Scripture and the centrality and exclusivity of Christ in the gospel are becoming fewer and fewer. Perhaps the drift from Christ and the Scriptures will make our message of fidelity to Christ's gospel more crisp and clear to those who reap the sad consequences of a religion without the authentic power of Christ.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Sinai in San Jacinto

Our Mt. Sinai in San Jacinto:

Ok. I'm starting to get the hang of this picture thing (I know, it's not that hard).

Anyway, this was the scene from our office as the fire season kicked off. See the post from Thursday, June 23.

Here's what it looked like close up.

Ok - one more:

Bill Kristol Was Right! So Far.

Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard predicted that Sandra O'Connor would be the first to resign from the Supreme Court. He also suggests that the Chief Justice will NOT resign and that Albert Gonzales will be O'Connor's replacement. Kristol's conjecture has begun to become reality. We shall see about the rest. Here are President Bush's comments and his phone conversation with outgoing Associate Justice O'Connor. War for the Court Begins Posted by Picasa