Monday, May 31, 2010

May 30, 2010 - Matthew 6:5-8 - Jesus on Prayer: Our Inward Motivation

Here is the audio and notes from yesterday's message on prayer.  Next week we'll discuss the Lord's Prayer (probably better called the Disciple's Prayer, but we'll discuss that later).  In the meantime, here is the description followed by the links:

Are our prayer lives nothing more than a ritual? Are we just playactors?  What are our inward motivations for prayer?  Righteousness?  Or applause?  Jesus begins His infamous passage on prayer in Matthew 6 discussing our motivations behind our prayer life.  Is prayer about us drawing from God or being drawn to God?


For more:
Calvin on Prayer:  Why Bother?
Grudem on Prayer:  Why Bother?
Is This How We Pray?  
Matthew Thus Far:  Matthew 1-5 
January 17, 2010 - Matthew 5:1-12 - If Your Joyful and You Know It . . . 
January 24, 2010 - Matthew 5:13 - Stuck Between Salt and Manure:  The Call to Preserve the Gospel 
January 31, 2010 - Matthew 5:14-26 - Its Dark in Here:  The Call to be the Light of the World 
February 7, 2010 - Matthew 5:17-20 - Medium Rare is Unbiblical or What Do Christians Do with the Law
February 14, 2010 - Matthew 5:21-22 - I Am a Murderer . . . And So Are You 
February 21, 2010 - Matthew 5:23-26 - Resetting What Was Broken:  The Necessity of Reconciliation
February 28, 2010 - Matthew 5:27-30 - America's Pastime: Our Lust for Lust 
March 7, 2010 - Matthew 5:31-32 - The Gospel and Divorce:  What Does the Bible Say?
March 14, 2010 - Matthew 5:33-37 - Allergies to Toast, the Gospel, and Integrity
March 21, 2010 - Matthew 5:38-42 - I Surrender!  I Surrender!
March 28, 2010 - Matthew 5:43-48 - Love God as He Loved You
May 23, 2010 - Matthew Thus Far:  Matthew 1-5 
January 17, 2010 - Matthew 5:1-12 - If Your Joyful and You Know It . . . 
January 24, 2010 - Matthew 5:13 - Stuck Between Salt and Manure:  The Call to Preserve the Gospel 
January 31, 2010 - Matthew 5:14-26 - Its Dark in Here:  The Call to be the Light of the World 
February 7, 2010 - Matthew 5:17-20 - Medium Rare is Unbiblical or What Do Christians Do with the Law
February 14, 2010 - Matthew 5:21-22 - I Am a Murderer . . . And So Are You 
February 21, 2010 - Matthew 5:23-26 - Resetting What Was Broken:  The Necessity of Reconciliation
February 28, 2010 - Matthew 5:27-30 - America's Pastime: Our Lust for Lust 
March 7, 2010 - Matthew 5:31-32 - The Gospel and Divorce:  What Does the Bible Say?
March 14, 2010 - Matthew 5:33-37 - Allergies to Toast, the Gospel, and Integrity
March 21, 2010 - Matthew 5:38-42 - I Surrender!  I Surrender!
March 28, 2010 - Matthew Thus Far:  Matthew 1-5 
January 17, 2010 - Matthew 5:1-12 - If Your Joyful and You Know It . . . 
January 24, 2010 - Matthew 5:13 - Stuck Between Salt and Manure:  The Call to Preserve the Gospel 
January 31, 2010 - Matthew 5:14-26 - Its Dark in Here:  The Call to be the Light of the World 
February 7, 2010 - Matthew 5:17-20 - Medium Rare is Unbiblical or What Do Christians Do with the Law
February 14, 2010 - Matthew 5:21-22 - I Am a Murderer . . . And So Are You 
February 21, 2010 - Matthew 5:23-26 - Resetting What Was Broken:  The Necessity of Reconciliation
February 28, 2010 - Matthew 5:27-30 - America's Pastime: Our Lust for Lust 
March 7, 2010 - Matthew 5:31-32 - The Gospel and Divorce:  What Does the Bible Say?
March 14, 2010 - Matthew 5:33-37 - Allergies to Toast, the Gospel, and Integrity
March 21, 2010 - Matthew 5:38-42 - I Surrender!  I Surrender!
March 28, 2010 - Matthew 6:1-4 - Camouflaged Gold:  Why Christians Should Give In Secret 

Friday, May 28, 2010

This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - The Scriptures

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 begins with an article on Scripture.  Any discussion on theology and any survey on what any denomination, faith, or person believes must begin with what they believe about God’s Word.  Our understanding of the Bible determines everything else.  

We would know very little (and even it would be speculative) about God, the meaning of life, salvation, creation, morality, and the afterlife if it were not for special revelation.  God has revealed Himself in three ways: Creation, Conscience, and Canon (the Bible).  Creation and Conscience represent “General Revelation” (meaning that God has revealed Himself “generally” to mankind.  Canon (Scripture) is God’s special revelation in which He gave direct revelation to us.  Without such special, divine revelation, we would be short on answers. 

This means that what we believe about Scripture determines our understanding of God, sin, mankind, creation, salvation, Jesus Christ, righteousness, morality, and truth.  The BF&M 2000 reads:

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man.  It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction.  It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without mixture of error, for its matter.  Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.  It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.  All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus on divine revelation.

This is a well-written summation of what we believe Scripture to be.  God is its author, salvation is its thesis, and truth is what it dispenses.  If God is perfect and without blemish or error, then so must be His declarations.  Scripture is perfect, without error, and timeless.  The God of the Bible is still the God of today and what He has revealed still stands.

Scripture is the primary and ultimate source for truth.  It trumps philosophy and sitting in your basement with legs crossed humming.  Humans cannot fully understand God apart from His direct revelation and with His revelation we can better understand, worship, obey, and submit to our creator.  A world without revelation is a world of walking in dense fog. 

We believe in what the Reformers called Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone).  This means that only Scripture is inspired and only Scripture is authoritative as God’s Word.  We reject tradition and experience as inspired.  This doesn’t  mean that learning from past theologians and Christians or from personal experience isn’t insightful, but they are not inspired.  Men err.  God doesn’t.

Secondly, Scripture is closed & is only the 66 books of the Bible.  We reject the Apocrypha (commonly used in the Catholic Church) and any writings after Revelation.  All false Gospels are rejected as uninspired and we believe that God will not give any new revelation.  Anyone who claims to have “a word from the Lord,” must be evaluated in light of revealed Scripture.  In other words, no one can say “God told me,” or “thus says the Lord,” and it truly be from God unless it agrees with what God has already revealed in His Word.  God has spoken and instead of wanting new revelation, we have enough and all that we need in the Old and New Testament.

The doctrine of Scripture is central to Christian and Baptist beliefs.  Unless we have a sound understanding of what the Bible is and what it reveals, everything else will be an educated guess.  We can know very little about God or life apart from His divine revelation.  Let us be thankful that God has willed it to reveal Himself though He was never obligated to.  Let us treasure Scripture everyday and seek to know more about the God who revealed it.

For more:
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Introduction 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Calvin on Prayer: Why Bother?

I just mentioned Dr. Wayne Grudem's reasoning for why we should pray, I now want to offer John Calvin's.  Calvin raises the question, "If [God] is ready, of his own free will, to assist us, what purpose does it serve to employ our prayers which interrupt the spontaneous to employ our prayers, which interrupt the spontaneous curse of his providence?"

He offers this answer:

The very design of prayer furnishes an easy answer.  Believers do not pray, with the view of informing God about things unknown to him, or of exciting him to do his duty, or of urging him as though he were reluctant.  On the contrary, they pray, in order that they may arouse themselves to seek him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating of his promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into his bosom; in a word that they may declare that from him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things.  -314

Interesting perspective.  Prayer, according to Calvin it seems, isn't about getting goodies but about we may seek Him, exercise our faith, relieve ourselves by trusting in His Sovereignty. 

For more:
Grudem on Prayer:  Why Bother?
Is This How We Pray?

Grudem on Prayer: Why Bother?

This upcoming Sunday, we will be looking at the issue of prayer in the Sermon on the Mount.  We will be spending 3 weeks on the subject covering Matthew 6:5-15.  This week we will be looking at verses 5-8 regarding how not to pray (verses 9-13 tell us how to pray).

But through all of this, as I study, I am asking myself the question:  why should we pray?  After all, in vs. 8, Jesus clearly says that God already knows what we need before we ask it, so why bother?  Here is an answer given by theologian Dr. Wayne Grudem offers in his best-selling, world renown Systematic Theology:

God wants us to pray b/c prayer expresses our trust in God and is a means whereby our trust in him can increase.  In fact, perhaps the primary emphasis of the Bible’s teaching on prayer is that we are to pray with faith, which means trust or dependence on Go.  God as our Creator delights in being trusted by us as his creatures, for an attitude of dependence is most appropriate to the Creature/creature relationship.  Praying in humble dependence also indicates that we are genuinely convinced of God’s wisdom, love, goodness, and power – indeed of all of the attributes that make up his excellent character.  -377

Later he adds:

But God does not only want us to trust him.  He also wants us to love him and have fellowship with him.  This, then, is a second reason why god wants us to pray.  Prayer brings us into deeper fellowship with God, and he loves us and delights in our fellowship with him.  -378

Grudem is on to something here (and he has much more to say on the subject than this.  Prayer is more than just asking for God to intervene.  Prayer is our admission that we are insufficient apart from Him.  If we depended on God to redeem us, then we continue to depend on Him to change us, make us more like Him, and live in this world seeking to be like Christ.  Prayer assumes humility and a desire for fellowship with our Creator who has redeemed us.

So this week (and every week) let us rethink prayer.  Stop making prayer a ritual or a Christmas list.  Make prayer about humble submission and full dependence on He who redeemed us for His glory.  Let us enter into fellowship with him.

How's your prayer life?  Do you have on? 

For more:
Is This How We Pray? 

Unanswered Questions in Lost: A Funny Video We Can All Relate To

For those Lost fans in the congregation, I found this video pretty funny.  Clearly there were a lot of questions left unanswered and here are just a few:

HT: Ross Douthat

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bibledex on Colossians

Tonight we will be discussing the book of Colossians.  Here is the video from Bibledex discussing the book, its background, its meaning, and content.  As with their other videos, there is some deep concepts like the authorship debate over Colossians (I believe Paul wrote it) and other issues that are debated.

For more:
Bibledex on 2 Thessalonians

May 23, 2010 - Matthew 6:1-4 - Camoflauged Gold: Why Christians Should Give in Secret

Here are the audio and notes from Sunday mornings message.  Sorry it has taken me a few days, but I haven't had much of a chance to post anything.  Here is the description from Matthew 6:1-4:

Which is easier:  to play the righteous man or to be the righteous man?  There are many in our churches who great actors, but hypocritical believers.  Many of us are playacting, assuming a role to impress an audience.  Jesus doesn't fall the mask and has condemned it.  He begins by looking how Christian impostors give and how true Christians ought to give.  Righteousness is rooted not just in our actions, but in our motivations for those actions and that is clearly revealed in our heart for charity.


For more:
Matthew Thus Far:  Matthew 1-5 
January 17, 2010 - Matthew 5:1-12 - If Your Joyful and You Know It . . . 
January 24, 2010 - Matthew 5:13 - Stuck Between Salt and Manure:  The Call to Preserve the Gospel 
January 31, 2010 - Matthew 5:14-26 - Its Dark in Here:  The Call to be the Light of the World 
February 7, 2010 - Matthew 5:17-20 - Medium Rare is Unbiblical or What Do Christians Do with the Law
February 14, 2010 - Matthew 5:21-22 - I Am a Murderer . . . And So Are You 
February 21, 2010 - Matthew 5:23-26 - Resetting What Was Broken:  The Necessity of Reconciliation
February 28, 2010 - Matthew 5:27-30 - America's Pastime: Our Lust for Lust 
March 7, 2010 - Matthew 5:31-32 - The Gospel and Divorce:  What Does the Bible Say?
March 14, 2010 - Matthew 5:33-37 - Allergies to Toast, the Gospel, and Integrity
March 21, 2010 - Matthew 5:38-42 - I Surrender!  I Surrender!
March 28, 2010 - Matthew 5:43-48 - Love God as He Loved You

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kentucky Baptist and Find it Here: Increase in Baptisms and Church Attendance

I came across an interesting article in the recent Western Recorder regarding Find it Here and how it has impacted the churches across Kentucky.  I know that God has blessed Goshen with our work with Find it Here and I pray that He continues to open up doors for us to reach the lost.  I hope that in the future we will be given another opportunity to go door to door to reach our community.

The gospel is paramount and we will prove how dedicated we are to the gospel in our eagerness to share the gospel with others.

Here is the link to the article.

Baptisms, Church Attendance Increase Following Find it Here

The Early Church Fathers on the Rapture: Some Quotes

Last night we discussed 1 Thessalonians and spent some time discussing issues like the Rapture and the end times (also known as eschatology).  I spent some time before Bible study looking into some of the beliefs of the early church on the Rapture.  Many argue that the Rapture is a recent belief (pinning the tail on John Darby in the mid-1800's).

What I found interesting was that at least among some of the Father's, there seems to be a form of belief in the Rapture.  As to the timing, it seems to remain unclear, but from what I can tell, they seem to place the Rapture as just prior to the Second Coming of Christ.  Here are some quotes all of which are taken from David Bercot, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, 551-552.

Irenaeus – “When in the end of the church will suddenly be caught up from this, it is said, ‘There will be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, nor will be.’  For this is the last contest of the righteous.  When they overcome in this contest, they are crowned with incorruption.” -551

Tertullian – “In the crisis of the last moment, and from their instantaneous death while encountering the oppression of the Antichrist, these persons will undergo a change . . . These persons will put on this heavenly garment over their bodies.  Meanwhile, the dead, for their part, will also recover their bodies.” -551

Tertullian – “He says that those who remain unto the coming of Christ, along with the dead in Christ, shall rise first, being ‘caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.’ . . .” -551

Tertullian – “Before we put off the garments of the flesh, we wish to be clothed with the celestial glory of immortality.  Now, the privilege of this favor awaits those who are found in the flesh at the coming of the Lord.  These – owing to the oppression of the times of the Antichrist – deserve by an instantaneous death (which is accomplished by a sudden change) to become qualified to join the rising saints.  Paul writes of this to the Thessalonians.” -552

Interesting to say the least.  The Early Fathers seem to be clearly describing what we would call the Rapture.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Repost - Facing Reality: How to Respond to SBC Decline

Ed Stetzer has written a well documented piece at the Between the Times blog regarding the steady decline of the Southern Baptist Convention.  To those who have kept up with the convention in recent years, it will come to no surprise to you that the convention continues to decline in membership.  However, according to recent reports, the number of baptisms increased from last year while the membership declined.  What are we to make of this?

Certainly any increase in baptisms is reason to celebrate.  Dr. Thom Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway, rightly said:

Every baptism is a celebration of another person finding new life in Jesus Christ . . . The fact that more people were baptized this year than last year gives us a reason to hope we’re on the right path. At the same time, we as Southern Baptists continue to show signs of drifting from our historic commitment to evangelism, as reflected in the fact that it still takes 46 Southern Baptists to lead one person to faith in Christ.

We should celebrate any baptism the Lord gives us, but at the same time, the increase of baptism should not be received with the false idea that things are on the uptick.  Last year was the lowest in baptisms in the SBC in some time so the fact that the number increased (ever so slighly) doesn't mean things have changed, but that the number of just barely over last years poor numbers.

At the same time, our membership continues to decline likely due to deaths of older members and similar factors.  Southern Baptists must face these facts.  And if we are really honest with ourselves, most churches have a much higher membership numbers than they do of people who actually show up on Sunday morning (not to mention Sunday Nights and Wednesday Nights).

So what's next?  How are we to respond to these discouraging numbers?  Stetzer offers five options:

Option #1: Act as if nothing negative is really happening, proverbially fiddling while Rome burns.
Option #2: Acknowledge that the decline is real but blame some “other” segment of the convention for the decline. “It’s those contemporary pastors who have colluded with worldliness.” Or “It’s those old dusty pastors who have confused tradition with the power of the gospel.”
Option #3: Blame lost people for being lost. Perhaps complaining about the state of the country will make lost people want to be saved. Unlikely.
Option #4: Wish for something else. We can dream of a different future or pine away for a preferred past but without action in the present context of our churches, nothing with change.

The 5th and final option, and really the only option for us to really impact the world, is a serious self-examination as to whether how we make disciples is rooted in Scripture and delivering the gospel effectively to our mission field. We can scarcely hope to impact the world if we do not approach the gospel and kingdom of God in the same way that Christ did.

I agree with Stetzer that our response is limited.  We must face the facts and deal with them, but how? It is tempting to changing out old programs for new one's or even to be more user-friendly with our ministry, but these things never work.  More programs isn't the answer.  Bigger churches isn't the answer.  Doing away with hymns or older pastors isn't the answer.  Just planting new churches isn't the answer.  Being more socially minded isn't the answer.  A new Public Relations strategy isn't the answer.  Focusing on young people isn't the answer.  So what is?

The answer must always be a transcendent, vibrant gospel.  It is no surprise that the world is in tatters and our culture is among the worst in the world.  People are hungry for spiritual truth, but due to the boring and mundane appearance of the SBC and similar churches and congregations, the church looks dead.  Most of our churches care more about the dress of the pastor and the style of worship than we do about personal evangelism, real surrender to the gospel, practical discipleship, and to gospel ministry itself.

There is a cancer in our churches and it isn't necessarily a false gospel, but a boring gospel.  We have gotten used to and assumed the gospel to a point that we don't let us shake us.  We fear change, we fear action, and we fear something that the hospitality committee can't deal with.  When 20% of our people are giving 80% of the offering and doing 80% of the work, we have problems.  Where is the call to surrender, to pick up our cross and follow Christ, to make disciples, and to reach the lost?  When was the last time we discussed these things at business meeting?  When was the last time our worship didn't look like a business meeting?

Until Baptists wake up from our slumber and take the gospel (the whole gospel and all its implications) seriously, we will continue to decline.  Do we really expect God to honor gospel laziness?  The pastor should not be the only an person reaching the lost or praying for the church.

Will we take the gospel seriously without confusing it with other false gospels?  Or will we continue to point fingers at someone else, wishing they would do something different, all the while content with our mundane gospel?  I am praying for the former.  What about you?

Lifeway - Southern Baptists report slight increase in baptisms, decline in membership
Ed Stetzer - Will Southern Baptist Ignore the Ongoing Decline? 

This article originally appeared at the SBC blog

Haggai: Consider Your Ways Sermon Series

It has been an enjoyable ride through the wonderful book of Haggai, but we have finally completed this often ignored Minor Prophet.  Haggai has called us to live for God's glory for that is our highest priority.  We must live for His glory.  In other words, this is more than a slogan, but a way of life.  Will we heed his words like the Israelite's in Haggai's day, or will we completely ignore him?  Only time will tell.

April 11, 2010 - Haggai 1:1-15 - God's Greater Glory:  Our Highest Priority
April 18, 2010 - Haggai 2:1-9 - And the Lord Said, "Get-r-Done!"
May 3, 2010 - Haggai 2:10-19 - I Raise My Ebenezer.  Not My Scrooge 
May 16, 2010 - Haggai 2:20-23 - Hope in the Present Tense 

A Helpful Timeline Chart for Haggai
Is God Jealous?  Oprah Weighs In

May 16, 2010 - Haggai 2:20-23: Hope in the Present Tense

Here is the audio and the notes of Sunday's message from Haggai 2:20-23 regarding God's Soveriegnty over the future and our hope in the present.  I've enjoyed our time in Haggai and I hope you'll return to it often.  Starting next Sunday we will return to the Sermon on the Mount and plan on finishing it up before the year is up.

Here is the description of Haggai 2:20-23:

Do you ever look at your own life and the world and wonder if God knows what he's doing?  I mean, look at the chaos, the broken homes, the lost lives, the fear, the pain, and the brokenness.  Does God know what He is doing?  Haggai addresses this issue in chapter 2 of his great prophecy.  He concludes thus:  If God is in control of the/your future; then He must be in control of the/you present.  Do not fear.


For more:
April 11, 2010 - Haggai 1:1-15 - God's Greater Glory:  Our Highest Priority
April 18, 2010 - Haggai 2:1-9 - And the Lord Said, "Get-r-Done!" 
May 3, 2010 - Haggai 2:10-19 - I Raise My Ebenezer.  Not My Scrooge 
A Helpful Timeline Chart for Haggai

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Will They Stay?: Rainer on Returning Guests

I came across an interesting article by Dr. Thom Rainer.  Dr. Rainer was the founding Dean of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions, and Church Growth at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is now the President and CEO of Lifeway Resources.  Rainer is well known for his books on statistics on evangelicalism, Christianity, and the church.

Recently at his website, he posted an important article asking, "Why [do] church guests return?"  Here is his answer:


Rainer argues that churches who not only have a firm belief in right doctrine but stand firm on it draw people into their congregations.  He writes:

Research among previously unchurched individuals revealed a surprising desire to know and understand doctrine.  Knowledge however, is not enough.  It is vital to them that the church they attend be uncompromising in its stand.  People need to know that the church stands for something.

The number one sin of a dying church is the dilution of doctrine.  In an attempt not to offend, the gospel is watered down and cardinal truths are compromised.  Ironically, this drives away the very people the church is desperate to attract

Are we a church that affirms sound doctrine and will not back down from it?  Are we willing to proclaim it, affirm it, and share it with everyone?  If not, then we are surely a weak church.  Rainer is right in making this the first and most important thing that draws people in.


Rainer sees a passionate church primarily in its senior pastor, but such a reputation of a church is not limited to its pastoral staff.  He writes:

The passion from the pulpit carries over into evangelism as well.  In many thriving churches the driving force behind obedience to the Great Commission is the passion that the senior pastor maintains for the lost.

Do we have a passion for the gospel?  Is it evident in our people and in our guests?  Does our passion for the gospel reveal itself in our worship, in our business meetings, in our activities, in our preaching, in our Bible reading, in our prayers, and in our daily lives?

Do we have a contagious passion?


The final thing he discusses is that of relevance.  Relevance can be a dangerous topic because oftentimes when we are consumed with the desire to be relevant, we become irrelevant.  However, if our doctrine is sound our relevance can be more . . . well . . . relevant. 

Rainer concludes with these words:  "Stand firm.  Be passionate.  Be relevant.  And they will come."  And we might add:  "And they will stay."

Are we a church that people want to come and stay? 

Thom Rainer - Why Church Guests Return

Is This How We Pray?

The following two videos come from comedian Michael Jr.  He's pretty funny and here he makes fun of how we pray in church.  I thought it was pretty funny.

HT: Pure Church

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bibledex on 2 Thessonlians

Tonight we will be discussing 2 Thessalonians as we continue to walk through the Bible backwards.  The following video discusses the background, the content, and some of the issues surrounding this letter.  Its not the most exciting video in the world, but in case your interested in a brief overview of the book, it does just that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Maternal Nature of God: Jim Wallis and the Emergent Worldview

How ironic is this?  Yesterday at the God's Politics blog, lead by Sojourners President Jim Wallis, Wallis posted a sermon he heard on Mother's Day this past Sunday on the maternal nature of God.  This is exactly what we discussed this past Sunday, only from a different perspective.  Wallis is the political guru of the Emergent Church and just like Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Tony Campolo, William Paul Young, and so many others, Wallis wants us to "uncover" the maternal nature of God instead of the exclusive masculine God.

Here are the points of the sermon preached by Rev. Jeff Haggray of First Baptist Church in Washington, DC:

1.  God's Maternal Nature advocates Discipleship that is rooted in a loving relationship (contra fear, force, and individualism).

2.  God's Maternal Nature advocates Discipleship that is rooted in a healthy home life (contra wandering pilgrimage lacking direction or a destination)

3.  God's Maternal Nature Makes Provisions for Instruction, Teaching, and Remembering as Prerequisites to Healthy Discipleship

4.  It is God's Maternal Nature that Gives Peace to all those who follow Jesus.

5.  God's Maternal Nature creates the conditions for the emergence of faith/belief no matter how chaotic or dangerous the world may become.

 The problem with this interpretation is that John 14:23-29 has nothing to do with the maternal nature of God.  Certainly there is some feminine language to describe God in the Bible.  We must say that God is not a male in the sense that we understand males.  God is Spirit (John 4) and is therefore neither male nor female.  However, we cannot miss the overwhelming Biblical language.  The Bible overwhelming uses masculine language to describe God as we discussed God.

Certainly maternal language is insightful, but we must not undermine the Biblical language.  I fear that persons like Wallis are opening a dangerous door they are unaware of.  We men must be like God (as everyone ought to be).  But when we read masculine language to describe God, it should humble us men, not give us a foot of pride.

Jim Wallis - ‘God’s Maternal Nature’: One of the Best Mother’s Day Sermons I Can Remember

For more:
May 9, 2010 - Manly God for Godly Men:  A Word to Men on Mother's Day
God is Not a Dude:  Rob Bell and the "She" Video

Monday, May 10, 2010

Are We Contemporvant?

I loved this video.  It hits the modern church dead on:

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

HT:  Denny Burk 

May 9, 2010 - Manly God for Godly Men: A Word to Men on Mother's Day

Here is the sermon notes and audio from yesterday.  Mother's Day is always a delight.  Happy Mother's Day to all of the women, wives, and mother's God has given us.


For more:
Mother's day 2009 - 1 Samuel 1:  A Portrait of a Godly Woman - Audio 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

God Is Not a Dude: Rob Bell and the "She" Video

This Sunday is Mother's Day and instead of speaking to women, we will be discussing manhood, fatherhood, etc.  Needless to say there is an absense of what it means to be a man in our culture today. One of the recent trends in postmodern theology is to reject or at least downplay the masculine language of God in the Bible.  The Bible frequently refers to God as King, Father, Son, Judge, and Bridegroom.  Many argue that to speak in such language only encourages chauvinism and sexism in our culture.

I think it is all garbage.  Not that the Bible never uses feminine language, but that the motive behind this movement foolishness.

I fear that by making such an argument, what we are doing in essence is not defending women and uplifting their status, but refusing to hold men accountable.  If God is described as a Father, then I need to get my act straight.  Do I love my wife the way God loves His Bride, the Church?  Do I lead in a godly manner like God?  Do I sacrifice as a husband like Christ?  By undermining the masculine language of God we are letting men off the hook.

Well if you want an example (and I'll probably reference this Sunday morning) of this trend, I point you to Rob Bell.  Bell is perhaps the most recognizable face in postmodern Christianity.  He is the face behind the Nooma videos which are short (about 12-15 minutes long each) films dedicated to a spiritual topic.  In the following video, called "She," Bell argues that God isn't a dude, he's also feminine.  For a critique, see the links below the video.

For more:
Christopher W. Cowan - Rob Bell, NOOMA, and “Feminine Images” for God, Part 1
Christopher W. Cowan - Rob Bell, NOOMA, and “Feminine Images” for God, Part 2

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Something UL, WKU, and UK Fans Can Be Excited About

I found out today that a UK, UL, and WKU basketball player will be among 11 players who will be joining a team in May and playing for over 2 weeks in China.  The local players are Petyon Siva (UL), Jon Hood and Josh Harrelson (UK, and Steffphon Pettigrew (WKU).  Why is this such a big deal?

The trip is one of several sponsored and organized by Sports Reach, a Kentucky-based Christian sports ministry that uses athletics as a platform to share Christ throughout the world.

You know what this means.  Dare I say it . . . I will be rooting for this team including those who represent the University of Kentucky!  I think this is the final sign of the Apocalypse.

I am very excited to see high profile college players like these representing Christ internationally.  Let us pray for these players that they are well received, do not get injured, and are able to share the gospel with a country that is hostile to it.  But with any evangelistic trip like this, we must pray that their experiences in missions over there continue over here as these players will be major forces in the coming years of college basketball.  In a sport where players care more about future dollar signs, this story is a pleasant and well received suprise.

Good luck guys!  Even the UK players.

Card Chronicle - Peyton Siva Taking His Smile to China 

PS:  Of course I'll be rooting the most for Peyton Siva.  He's the man! :o)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Repost: The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundations

What is the biblical foundation in favor of the Immutability of God?  Study any sound theological book and you will find catalogs of texts that point us to this wonderful doctrine.  As always, anytime we are doing theology, we must watch out for many pitfalls.  One of those pitfalls is to isolate texts out of context.  In order to avoid doing that, each of the following verses will have the context explained in order to bring to light its implications and why the author found it necessary to discuss God's Immutability.

Numbers 23:19-21God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it. Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.  He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob, nor has he seen trouble in Israel. The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them.

The context here is Balaam and the crazy story that surrounds him.  At this point, God has commanded Balaam to deliver a message to Balak and this is the message.  What a fascinating way to begin.  God essentially defines Himself in this direct revelation.  The first thing that God tells Balak:  I am immutable and I do not change.  That should get our attention!  This means that what God says, He does.  God cannot and does not lie and therefore no matter how hard we might try, we cannot and will not change God.  The LORD is the God of Israel and this will not change.

Psalm 102:25-27of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.

In this Psalm, the writer is pouring heart out to God like so many of the other Psalms.  He is leaning on God's Sovereignty and Justice.  Near the end of this Psalm, the writer writes these words boldly proclaiming the immutability of God.  Or maybe that's not the best way of putting it.  Instead of simply laying out a dry fact about God, the writer is leaning on this doctrine.  This is what makes this passage so fascinating and why the poetry is so powerful.

What the Psalmist is doing is trying to find a rock in which to stand on.  Did you notice the language?  A rock in which to stand on.  Even today we use language of nature to speak of foundations that cannot be shaken or changed but the Psalmist disagrees.  In his pursuit of certainty and hope he points out that though we oftentimes see the earth itself as unchanging, it is in fact not.  The earth moves, changes, and goes through seasons.  The writer is not looking for something like this.  Such "rocks" are not what he is looking for.

This is fascinating.  The Psalmists sets us up for the great reveal; the great Hope.  We think the things of this earth are permanent, but they aren't.  They are just one more thing to add to the list of disappointment and uncertainty.  What is unshakable, unmoving, and unchanging?  God.  God remains.  God doesn't change and though the world may pass away, the Lord will remain the same.  A powerful message in the midst of sorrow.

Malachi 3:6-7aThen I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner and do not fear me says the LORD of hosts. For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.

The context?  Judgment.  Mercy.  Is this not the message of the Bible?  God judges what is contrary to His holiness and yet at the same time offers mercy to those who repent.  This is an important passage as we'll see in future posts.  Because God is immutable, He has and will always judge sin and grant grace to the repentant.  The God that offered this message in the times of the Bible is the same God today.  If we repent, we will be given grace.  But if we remember in our sins, God's judgment remains.  And who can stand the judgment of God?

Romans 11:28-36As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy b/c of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has
been his counselor?’ “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen

What can you add to the book of Romans?  Much has been written on this book, but perhaps we would benefit greatly if we just let it speak.  The phrase that is most important here is that God's call is irrevocable.  Here we have the apostle Paul dealing with the difficult issues of Gentile and Jewish relations and ends with an amazing passage extolling the grace and mystery of God.  In the midst of that, Paul reminds us that God's calling and gifts are irrevocable.  No one can rob God.  God will not take back what He has declared.

Hebrews 13:8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

The context is hard to find here outside of the purpose of the entire book.  Chapter 13 of Hebrews is a collection of applications in light of the theology laid out in the book.  Briefly, the book of Hebrews is a letter of encouragement primarily to Jewish Christians who are facing persecution due to their faith who are tempted to return to the legalistic religion of Judaism.  The writer of Hebrews seeks to prevent that.  Those this is only one verse in all 13 chapters, this verse speaks volumes and is one of the more famous verses in this book.  Here we see that Jesus Himself is immutable, not just God the Father.  This should be encouraging.  If Christ is immutable then so is the gospel.  Praise God!

James 1:17Ever good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

 The context is wonderful.  James begins his letter rather strange by jumping right into the midst of the recipients troubles.  The people are suffering for the cause of Christ and are tempted to say that God is tempting them.  James is quick to warn that God doesn't tempt, rather everything that is good comes from God in whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Why does James point us to the immutability of God?  Because it seals up what he has just said about God.  If God does not tempt, He will never tempt.  Get that?  So whenever we read of a definitive nature of God or know about something He does or does not do, it will always be that way.  Therefore, if God grants mercy to the truly repentant, He will always do that.


Perhaps we can best summarize all of this by discussing God's perfection.  Is it to elementary to say that God is perfect?  I hope not.  I am going to assume that most readers agree that God is perfect.  Perhaps we can use language like Holy, Light, Beautiful, etc.  Either way, God is perfect.

Now if anything that is perfect changes, how does it change?  For example, if a team has a perfect record and that record changes, what does that mean?  They lost.  When something that is perfect changes, it can only change in the negative sense.  If water is perfectly pure and it changes what happened?  Its no longer perfect.  Likewise, if a perfect God changes, then how does He change?  To imperfection.

A changing God, therefore, is an imperfect God.  At the end of the day whenever we argue that God changes, evolves, or whatever, what we are really saying is that God is not perfect.  Likewise, whenever we suggest that God evolves with human culture what we are doing is lifting us up and pulling God down.  If God changes with history and culture, then we become gods or at the very least make God in our own image.  If God changes then He is not perfect.

Furthermore, if God can get better (through evolution of His character or whatever) then He is not perfect now and will likely not be perfect once He changes.  This, too, raises serious problems.

To many, an imperfect God is something that we may want.  An imperfect God can perhaps relate to us in our imperfect.  But does this really offer the hope we really want?  I want a God who is greater than I can fathom who transcends time, culture, race, epoch, and language.  I don't want a God like me.  Rather, I want to be more like God.  But if we undermine God's immutability out of convenience, then we are offering a world a God that does not offer them the help they need.  God is omnipotent and He always will be.  God is sovereign and He always will be.  God is loving and He always will be.  God is omnipresent and He always will be.  God does not change.  God is immutable.  The same God that saved Israel is still in the saving business.  The God who raised Christ will raise for Himself a Bride resurrected without any impurity to dwell in His Holy presence!

For more:
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction (Part 1)
Sermon Podcast - April 26, 2010 - The Immutability of God 
Sermon Podcast - November 29, 2009 - The Transcendence of the Gospel
Commentary - Accomodationism Breed Irrelevancy:  Why Liberalism Fails and the Transcendent Gospel Triumphs
Theology - A Fad Within a Movement:   What is the Emerging Church and Where is it Going
Theology - SBTS and McLaren:  A Response to SBTS Panel Discussion
Reviews - "Manifold Witness" by John Franke

This originally appeared on my Theology Blog.

May 3, 2010 - Haggai 2:10-19: I Raise My Ebenezer, Not My Scrooge

Here is the audio from this week's message.


For more:
April 11, 2010 - Haggai 1:1-15 - God's Greater Glory:  Our Highest Priority
April 18, 2010 - Haggai 2:1-9 - And the Lord Said, "Get-r-Done!"
A Helpful Timeline Chart for Haggai

Pornography is Not Just a Male Problem

You may recall from a few weeks ago our discussion of lust, sex, pornography, and adultery.  One of the things we talked about is how this is not just a young male problem, but it encompasses people of all genders and age.  Recently, the New York Times published an article on how one church is counseling women addicted to pornography.  Though it is a long article, it is fascinating to read.

Though women are more audible and seek to be noticed, pornography is becoming more popular among woman.  This means that as Christians move forward in this society, we must realize that this industry is growing in ways that we may want to refuse to believe.  We live in a highly sexual world that needs the grace of God.

New York Times - Church Counsels Women Addicted to Pornography
Above picture taken from article site

For more:
Sermon - February 28, 2010 - Matthew 5:27-30 - America's Favorite Past Time:  Our Lust for Lust 
Some Light Reading: On Lust
Augustine's Pears: Lust's Lust

Commentary - Pornography for the Blind:  Our Continuing Fantasy With What is Not Real
Commentary - The Great Recession or the Recession that Made Us Great?:  Pornography and the Frugality of Lust

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 2010 Newsletter Available

As always, here is the newsletter for this month.  It will also be available on the left-hand column.

May 2010 Newsletter

For more:
This is Who We Are:  What is a Baptist and What Do We Believe - Introduction

This is Who We Are: What a Baptist is and Believes? - Introduction

Each month in our newsletter, we will be walking through a section of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BF&M 2000).  As I write these for the newsletter, I will post them online.  The purpose for this venture is to help our members understand what a Baptist is.  Not just our distinctives (like regenerate church membership, etc.) but also the things that unite us with many other Christians (such as our understanding of Scripture and the gospel).

To begin we must ask the question, what is a Baptist?  Certainly there are stereotypes of Baptists – backrow sitters, many committees, loves chicken, and always the first to arrive at the local buffet after church.  But this is not what a Baptist really is; these are only characteristics.  There are multiple answers people oftentimes give to this question:  cooperation, missions, doctrine, or something similar.  I want to argue that none of these are correct.

When persons mention that Baptists cooperate primarily in the form of missions what they mean is that Baptist around American and around the world have joined together, shared with one another their resources and funds in order to support local and international missions.  Certainly this is true.  Baptist are notorious for this.  Every year we take up a number of offerings (like the Anne Armstrong Offering and the Lottie Moon Offering just to name a few) which go to support specific missionaries and mission agencies (like the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board).  Very early on in our history, Baptist understood that many churches cannot support large mission ventures, but by cooperating together, we can accomplish more in the mission field.

Others argue that a Baptist is one that affirms particular Baptist beliefs.  Not only do Baptist emphasize orthodox doctrines (like the inspiration of the Bible, salvation through the cross and resurrection of Christ, the Trinity, etc.) but also historical Baptist distinctives.  Some of the distinctives include regenerate church membership (only those saved are members of the local church), believers baptism (we don't baptize babies), the autonomy of the local church (we are in charge of our own church, which is why we have business meetings), the separation of State and Church (we Baptist played a major role in the First Amendment), and others.

But to affirm just one of these and say that this is what makes a Baptist a Baptist is false.  Historically, those who have said that a Baptist is one that cooperates and supports missions usually do so as a way to undermine doctrine.  In other words, when we say that Baptists only support missions is to allow destructive doctrines in the church.  At the same time, those who only care about the doctrine forget the passion Baptist have for missions and its necessity.

So what is a Baptist?  A Baptist is one that affirms both orthodoxy and Baptist distinctives and at the same time has a passion to see the world reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We embrace our identity and at the same time seek the world for Christ.  We cooperate in order to see the lost know Christ.

The union of both doctrine and cooperation is imperative.  Without right doctrine our evangelistic agenda is empty.  How can we reach people with Christ if we have wrong beliefs about Christ?  There are many religious and non-religious organizations dedicated to cooperation but do so to their own peril by being founded on compromising doctrine.  The National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches are two examples.  By making unity their foundation they have undermined divisive doctrines that define our faith.  Such organizations deny gospel doctrines like Christ’s deity, the Bible’s inspiration, and salvation through Christ alone.  As a result, their cooperation is nothing more than a social club most known for their humanitarian aide.  Baptists must avoid such a popular tendency in a culture that unashamedly rejects the divisive doctrines of the faith.

We must not fall for this trap of cooperation at the cost of doctrine.  Cooperation is essential to Baptist identity but cooperation apart from orthodox doctrine is empty.  At the same time, we must not forget that our study of Scripture and sound theology must motivate us and drive us to the spreading of the gospel.  Baptists are known for their cold approach to personal evangelism.  People know that we affirm the full inspiration of Scripture, but oftentimes see us as hypocrites and ignorant of our own faith.  We must not forget that God is most glorified when souls are saved and He has declared that sinners will not be redeemed apart from the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14).

So what is a Baptist?  A more thorough definition could be offered, but at its core we must admit that Baptists are orthodox believers who affirm historical Baptist  distinctives united to the spreading of the gospel around the world for the glory of God.  To lose this core message is to cease to be Baptist.