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

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Aren't These Things Silly?

You Are Romans You are Romans. Which book of the Bible are you? brought to you by Quizilla HT: Because I Said So

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Suffering and God's Sovereignty

Justin Taylor links to the audio for last week's Desiring God conference on suffering and God's sovereignty. I'm looking forward to listening, learning and growing. Check out for reviews of each day during the conference.

Deacons: A Biblical Approach

Ecclesiology seems to be a subject "up for grabs" among many congregations. This post and a number to follow will examine one particular aspcet of ecclesiastical structure, that of Deacons. This very embattled and much belittled leadership position in the local church deserves a fresh consideration. For two thousand years, the Church of Jesus Christ has wrestled with the subject of the purpose and nature behind the ministry of deacons, without much consensus. Within Baptist life, Charles Deweese notes that, “Deacons have been described in Baptist writings for well over 350 years,”[1] and once more, without an overall consensus as to function or form. Deacons have appeared to be involved in an unlimited number of ministries throughout church history. Deweese describes their ministry thus: The authority given to deacons was for positive and practical purposes – namely, to serve as church officers, to assist in limited administrative functions, to care for a church’s treasury, to make adequate provisions for the Lord’s table, to ensure that the minister’s needs were cared for, to minister to the sick, to stimulate responsible stewardship by encouraging voluntary contributions, and to be general servants of God, the church and the needy. . . . in America in the latter half of the eighteenth century, the role of deacons as caretakers of the temporal or secular affairs of the church began to assume a priority that it had never had before. The involvement of deacons in administrative, managerial, and business functions became more pronounced.[2] It has been my pleasure to consider the subject of deacons and read several works which attempt to come to an agreeable conclusion as to what the role, form and function of deacons is to be within the Church and especially within the work of Baptist churches. However, to my dismay, very little of the literature devoted specifically to the subject of deacons has dealt with the text of Scripture as its primary source. For example, Deweese says in his preface, “The New Testament provides a clear reason for the appearance of deacons. . . . While the primary purposes of this book are to portray deacon trends of the past and present. . . the beginning point is the Bible. Here lies the standard by which all deacon life must be evaluated.”[3] While I agree with Deweese’s statement in general and appreciate his treatment of diaconal ministry throughout church history, he devotes only one and three quarters of a page (out of eighty-five pages in the book) to the Scriptural basis behind the work of deacons. Likewise, little exegetical material can be found in Robert Naylor’s popular treatment of Baptist deacon ministry,[4] or in the more recently published works by Robert Sheffield.[5] Out of eight specialized books on deacons consulted for the present study, only one attempted to provide a significant treatment and exegesis of the major passages in the New Testament regarding deacons.[6] It appears to me, that if one actually believes that the Bible is the beginning and the end for faith and practice, more attention to the biblical data should be given when examining the role of deacons. Protestantism for centuries has rejected the idea that history is a valid and authoritative means to determine theological belief and ecclesiastical application. I have found it to be less than appealing to read works on how a particular church conducts deacon ministry, without their having first given significant attention to the proper understanding of the related biblical texts. Some may immediately argue that there is little actual material in the New Testament regarding deacon ministry. While such an argument may be true,[7] it still does not allow for a cursory treatment of the texts that do address diaconal ministry and is no excuse for passing over such texts in order to focus upon the practical aspects of a deacon’s work. Therefore, I begin with the presupposition that the Bible is a sufficient source of information concerning who deacons are and what their primary role is to be within the overall ministry of a local church. While I have not found the material in the specialized books on deacons to be unbiblical in every regard, the majority of them do not allow their application of deacon ministry to flow from the text of Scripture as much as from personal experience or church history. The general purpose of this post (and those to follow) is to give primary attention to the biblical nature of deacon ministry and draw some initial conclusions from the pages of Scripture as to the role, form and function of a biblical deacon ministry. [1] Charles W. Deweese, The Emerging Role of Deacons (Nashville: Broadman, 1979) 23. [2] Ibid., 39 40. [3] Ibid., 9. [4] Robert Naylor, The Baptist Deacon (Nashville: Broadman, 1955). [5] Robert Sheffield, The Ministry of Baptist Deacons (Nashville: Convention Press, 1990); Robert Sheffield, Deacons as Leaders (Nashville: Convention Press, 1991). [6]Alexander Strauch, The New Testament Deacon (Littleton: Lewis and Roth, 1992). [7] Only two passages in the New Testament directly speak of an official body of deacons: Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:9-15. Acts 6:1-6 is debated as to its relation to the role of deacons and will be considered later in this paper. Romans 16:1 is often sighted in regard to women deacons, but the reference cannot dogmatically be used to indicate that Phoebe was an official deacon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Results of a Theology That Doesn't Convert

The ongoing saga of sexual abuse by Catholic priests plummets deeper today as documents are released showing years of abuse and denial by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nations largest Roman Catholic diocese. Tell men they cannot marry (or allow homosexuals in as priests), teach a system of salvation that says grace must be achieved before it is given and grace must be regularly earned to be maintained and surround yourself with an ecclesiology that hides behind ecclesiastically infallibility, and you have the perfect mixture to bake up the kind of scandal that currently exists in Catholicism. It is a system that is sure to make one feel spiritual but fails to actually change the heart - thus the evidence of which we now read. Not that similar situations do not happen in protestant churches, especially the kind that care little for spiritual fruit as the indicator of conversion (not as the means to achieve). Protestants have their own moral black eyes due to their own theological aberrations such as the weekly push for quick profession-of-faith prayers, thus populating congregations with unconverted people, the exaltation of pastors as celebrity personalities, the redefinition of corporate church life in terms of popular opinion, pragmatism and moralism, rather than a careful and humble submission the sole authority of Scripture. Catholics and many aberrant protestant groups have much in common in their theology that creates a climate for such cases as described in the NY Times. May God be gracious to us to provide a genuine reformation in the hearts of people to adhere to the sole authority of Scripture that produces a singular passion for the glory of Christ, rather than creating our religion from the passions of depraved human hearts.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dobson's Dangerous Involvement

Dr. James Dobson says he knows something about Harrier Miers that he probably shouldn't know and he received it from the embattled Karl Rove and this information is what makes him want to support her as a new Supreme Court Justice. Now, I wonder what that might be. The White House is denying his claims and distancing themselves from Dobson. Has Dr. Dobson's inside scoop and his eternal quest to get Christians to pay more attention to the social war being waged in America provided another setback to President Bush's already questionable nominee to the court? Has Dr. Dobson's assurances to his evangelical audience that what he knows that he probably shouldn't know politicized this nominee more than she would have been? We will see. I'm not sure that the good Dr.'s attempts at politicizing American Christianity are really working to our good.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

From Our Lord's Day Worship 10-9-05

I do enjoy the rich thoughts behind many older hymns, like this one we will sing today in our corporate gathering: Crown Him with Many Crowns Crown Him with many crowns, The Lamb upon His throne;Hark! how the heav'nly anthem drowns All music but its own.Awake, my soul, and sing Of Him who died for thee,And hail Him as thy matchless King Thro' all eternity. Crown Him the Lord of life, Who triumphed o'er the grave,And rose victorious in the strife For those He came to save;His glories now we sing Who died, and rose on high,Who died, eternal life to bring, And lives that death may die. Crown Him the Lord of love! Behold His hands and side,Those wounds, yet visible above, In beauty glorified. All hail Redeemer, hail! For Thou hast died for me. They praise and glory shall not fail thro'out eternity.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

We Shall All Be Rotund

According to the linked report, it appears that being fat is almost inevitable. My guess is that most who are reading this post know that we all could probably learn to live off of the fat of the land a tad more. All execpt for Justin. So that he is not too embarrased I will not reveal Justin's full identity to the blogosphere. But he knows who he is. He is approaching his thirties more quickly than he would like to admit, and he brags to some of us at church that he has gained no weight since high school. Sheesh! Until just recently, all he ever eats is rabbit food mixed with tofu. But now, his wife seems to have grown equally frustrated with his lack of rotundity and she now sends him to Bible study (oops, I may have given his identity up) with the most scrumptious desserts. He maintains that he continues to weigh in at his normal poundage. That is why this report is so encouraging for the fatter sorts of folks (like most of you reading this because you do little to break a sweat other than running to the kitchen for more . . .). I know, the report comes from the angle that those of us whose body mass index tends to daily increase, need to be more concerned about not being obese. However, I tend to see it as an indicator that no one can avoid it. Including Justin! He too will get fat and there is nothing he can do about it. It's a lot like fibromyalgia. If you don't have it and can't drum an excuse to get it yet, don't worry, we all will have it one day and there is nothing you can do about it AND if we are patient and complain enough, we'll eventually get the government to pay us money because of it (ok - that was a rant). Anyway, just know Justin, you can run but you can't hide. You too shall be rotund.

See the Progress

Since a number of family and friends are looking to see how the we, "the Clampents" are doing with our upscale trailer, I thought I'd put a few links here so you can review the progress. See these previous posts: Friday, August 5, 2005 Friday, August 26, 2005 Friday, September 2, 2005 Saturday, October 2, 2005 Here's a few pics Kelly's grandfather took while the mobile was being move in. I love the one where I am signing a statement waiving the drivers from any responsibility from destroying my home as they ram it into the hole dug out in our property.

Of Note This Saturday 10-8-05

In my attempts to ever more organized (it is a sickness), I am attempting to arrange my posting in certain categories for certain days of the week. To show the depths of the sickness, I have created file folders in my browser and documents for each of the categories. The pastors I work with are now rolling on the floor laughing (in the squaller of the cluttered offices). So, that means that on Sunday will be something ecclesiological; Monday: devotional; Tuesday: cultural; Wednesday: personal; Thursday: theological; Friday: Frivolous; Saturday: Of Note. Like most good attempts at organization, this will no doubt fail within the first week, but at least I was able to extend my organizational disease to a new level. On Saturday, I want to simply post a few links to articles I found interesting but did not blog about. Here are two: The New York Times prints an interesting article about the Catholic Church's recent synod. It appears that the more liberal and syncretistic brand of Catholicism followed here in the U.S. may be gaining ground vocally, but not politically. It will be interesting to watch at the Catholic system continues to morph and change their theology, as they have for millennia. Yahoo News (the service I read most regularly) posts an article on an Alabama Church feeding gold fish to their youth group. Well, that is a bit of an overstatement. According to the article, the church uses a live goldfish eating session to attract teens and expose them to the gospel. This is nothing new. Goldfish have long been the target of youth directors (pastors is too dignified a term it seems) who enjoy living out their frustrations over aging. I wish we would not taint the gospel with such antics. The one saving grace of the church feeding their students live goldfish is that it upsets the animal rights crowd. If I were simply a moral political conservative, this article would be one of the best of the week. Mark Dever, in his new book, The Deliberate Church, says, "What you win them with is likely what you'll win them to. . . The Gospel of Chrsit has never needed the gimmicks of man to effect conversion in the soul" (44). I have been making my way through this excellent book this week. Dever's comments on evangelism are excellent, especially in light of the goldfish story. In fact, all of Dever's book is excellent. It is a good compilation of attending a Weekender at his church in Washington D.C. Besides, moving, selling a house, having a house put together, studying for my DMin, general church activities, I am also trying to study God's word, preaching through the book of Malachi. What a rewarding time it is.

Friday, October 07, 2005

It Is Another Frivolous Friday - Part 2

What a day! But The Villa is on the property! Kelly called me about 4:00 p.m. yesterday to tell me that she was driving by the property and the home had arrived and they were attempting to maneuver it onto the lot. I rushed over to meet her. Before the evening was over, a number of church members were present, a handfull of neighbors and Kelly's grandparents. The drivers were a bit peeved. They really don't like having to do much more than drop the package off then leave. This project was proving to be a bit more difficult than they anticipated. As it turned out, they were able to get two of the three pieces in, but the third was too long to maneuver into such a tight space. I was given the choice for them to go ahead and push the thing through, destroying a foundation wall and doing damage to the house or having them leave it in the street for anothe crew to come out. In the street it stood - all night. This morning Kelly and I were up early and over at the property to assess the situation. We spent the day on the phone with the contractor and doing a bit around our current home preparing it for an open house tomorrow. We got the call about 3:00 p.m. that a new crew was at the property with a small remote controlled dozer, putting the third piece in. We rushed over again and watched with amazement as two guys who obviously had training as kids with remote controlled cars toyed with our trailer getting it into position. They did an incredible job. So, the Villa is present on the lot. We're thrilled and anticipating the house to be set up next week, the remainder fo the foundation completed, the interior to be finished out and then we will begin to paint and get the flooring put in. A ton of work awaits us. But we are nearing completion.

It is Another Frivolous Friday - Part 1

The Capranica Villa has arrived. We have a few complications on our hands that we will be working through today, but otherwise, very excited that we are seeing some good progress. Watch today for a few pictorial updates.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Challies on Rick Warren & Ashley Smith

Yesterday I read Rick Warren's article from on his plea to pray for Ashley Smith. I was planning to briefly blog about it on Saturday, but Tim Challies' article today spurred me to spew now. Reading the article it was abundantly clear that Warren was going to use Smith to promote his integrationistic programatic approach to sanctification, namely, Celebrate Recovery. Rick's statement from the article was: "Although a believer, Ashley struggled with relapses, like so many who don'’t have the accountability of a Celebrate Recovery group." I am thankful that Warren said what he did. He has revealed that he does not hold to a biblical view of progressive sanctification, and I would suggest that he shows an inadequate view of the gospel itself. I am concerned that the majority of evangelicals will not carefully consider his comments. If one cannot overcome sin without a Celebrate Recovery group, then the viewpoint seems to be that the gospel is only good enough to get one to heaven, but not to make one righteous in character. For that, we need a 12 step program couched in Christian terminology. And do note - it is not that Ashley simply needed Christian support and fellowship from the body of Christ to help her grow in her understanding and application of the Bible (that is NOT what Celebrate Recovery is), nor did she need just any Christian 12 step program, she needed Rick Warren's Celebrate Recovery plan. Without that, she could not overcome her addiction. Furthermore, Warren, by trumpeting Smith's conversion (be sure to read Challies' comments), demonstrates a faulty view of conversion itself. But I digress. I was unaware that Warren and Smith were doing the Larry King Live Show last night, but Tim Challies did. I highly recommend reading his responses to the report (linked in the title of this blog). Warren's comments are a good demonstration of what the seeker movement produces theologically. It should become even more clear why Warren should not represent Christian theology in the public sector.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Princeton Cemetery's Treasures

Marvin Olasky of World Magazine fame notes some of the interesting history you will find at the Presbyterian cemetery in Princeton N.J. Two years ago, the two pastors I serve with and myself toured the cemetery, locating the burial markers of theological greats like B.B. Warfield and the Hodges (i.e., Charles Hodge). Other facinating personages include President Grover Cleveland and George Gallup. In my estimation, one of the most facinating arrangements in the cemetery is that of Jonathan Edwards, his son-in-law, Aaron Burr, and Edwards' grandson, Aaron Burr (the former U.S. Vice President). The former Vice President's headsone sits at the feet of his father and grandfather. According to Ian Murray, "In a career as a soldier, lawyer, and politician - becoming Vice President of the United States - he lived 'without God.' Dying, virtually friendless, in 1836, Burr asked that he might be buried as near as possible to the feet of his father and grandfather in the Princeton burial ground" (Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, 445). By the way, today is Jonathan Edwards' 302nd birthday (HT: Justin Taylor).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Could Bush "Miers" His Legacy

In my estimation, President Bush has made a very shrewed choice in his selection of Harriet Miers for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His poll numbers have plummeted to all time lows (only with slight increases lately), His management style has come under intense scrutiny due to Katrina and Rita (not unlike Reagan's management approach), his top political adviser (among others) is in a legal morass, and the war in Iraq gains fewer supporters by the day (perhaps due to the almost exclusively negative reporting in the media). Thus, Bush has picked an appointee with stealth armour. Bush says he is not a man moved by the polls, unlike his predecessor. But as the referenced article suggests, he may be making decisions that will impact his long-term legacy more than his current popularity. Both liberals and conservatives seem to be somewhat nervous about this pick. Conservatives are trusting that there is something Bush knows about Miers, due to their long and trusted political relationship, that the rest of the world does not know - and that until she is confirmed, she won't tell. Seems to me there were similar hopes for Miss. Mier's predecessor. James Dobson's assurances that she is an evangelical Christian create no calm in my mind about how she will interpret the constitution - especially sincie "evangelical Christian" is a virtually meaningless term today. President Bush is a shrewd politician. He has shrewed political advisers whispering in his ear. No man who sits behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office for two terms avoids the question of his legacy. President Bush could have picked strong conservative voice. Instead, he chose an individual that will test the blind support he expects from conservatives and one who will challenge the covert moderate positions of many democrats. For two interesting conservative perspectives, see: Fred Barnes' Reaction and Bill Kristol

Monday, October 03, 2005

To Begin the Week

For some time I have been reading J. L. Dagg's Manual of Theology during my regular morning prayer time. His Theology is not chaulked full of evaluations of other books and theories, it is a more devotional yet thorough deliniation of basic theology. Here's an encouraging excerpt: If any one supposes that religion consists merely of self-denial and painful austerities, and that it is filled with gloom and melancholy, to the exclusion of all happiness, he greatly mistakes its true character. False religions, and false views of the true religion, may be liable to this charge; but the religion which has God for its author, and which leads the soul to God, is full of peace and joy. It renders us cheerful amidst the trials of life, contented with all the allotments of Divine Providence, happy in the exercises of piety and devotion, and joyful in the hope of an endless felicity. Heaven is near in prospect; and, while on the way to that world of perfect and eternal bliss, we are permitted, in some measure, to anticipate its joys, being, even here, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.[2] We are enabled, not only to pursue our pilgrimage to the good land with content and cheerfulness, but even to "delight ourselves in the Lord."[3] Our happiness is not merely the absence of grief and pain, but it is positive delight. If we loved the truth as we ought, we should experience equal delight in receiving it; and careful investigation of it would be a source of pure and abiding pleasure.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

From Our Lord's Day Worship

Perhaps my favorite hymn is one we sang this morning in worship: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, Now to His temple, draw near; Praise Him in glad adoration! Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth, Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen How thy desires e'er have been Granted in what He ordaineth? Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him! Let the Amen Sound from His people again:Gladly for aye we adore Him. For the tune, played enthusiastically by Scott Hill (he wishes) click HERE. As an aside - Pastor Stacy Johnson, who preaches in the AM services of our fellowship referenced this facinating link in his sermon this morning: I'm not sure if the author of this site has access to the mind of God, but according to the deathclock, I'm due to reach glory on Friday, July 4, 2042. According to Pastory Stacy's calculations, he's planning to prepare my way three years earlier. This evening I will be preaching on the Dangers of Complacent Worship, from Malachi 1:6-2:9.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Back From Oblivion

The past number of weeks have been very full and thus the Capranica has had to suffer from neglect and dormancy. Here's a brief update on the goings on around the world of The Capranica: Kelly and I thoroughly enjoyed time with my mom and dad a few weeks ago. Our jaunts to La Jolla and Oceanside were especially beautiful. In Oceanside, before taking mom and dad to the airport in San Diego, we had lunch at Ruby's out on the pier. Throughout our walk down the pier, during lunch and heading back to the car, the dophins were entertaining us with their amazing gymnastics. I finished preaching through the book of Revelation and have begun a seven week exposition of Malachi. I continue to study and prepare for my next DMin seminar as well as finish up on some material in my present class (ending Oct 30). At the church, this a very, very busy time of the year for me. It is budget time and there is a host of work to prepare for it. Also, we are gearing up for our annual Christmas Concert. Our choir and a few other ensembles begin extra rehearsals during the week and there is a formidable amount of extra work for promotion and preparation. Our Christmas Concert is a major outreach event in our community each year. Oh yes, there is also this little issue with our home: The Capranica Villa. Back in May, we removed all the concrete sidewalk and patio. I must say, no one is better with a jack hammar than Pastor James Billings. His proficiency in breaking up a good sized and very thick concrete patio has made me wonder if "jack-hammering" should not be added to the list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Last month, the old nasty mobile on our new property was taken apart and removed! This was a major step forward. Just yesterday, the contractors began the work of digging out a depression our new house will be set in. We anticipate the arrival of the new home on Tuesday. Our aim is to be in the house by the end of the month. More to come on this. Yesterday we also had the joy of spending a brief time with a profound man of God and a precious personal friend. Chaplain Kevin Banks (Captain, U.S. Army) had just finished desert training in Barstow, CA, in preparation for being sent to Iraq. He will serve our country and Christ in Iraq beginning December 15. Mentioning him now suggests that I should probably blog about him soon.