Monday, November 30, 2009

Whet Your Appetite for What's Coming to WBC in January!!!

January 8th and 9th, 2010, Wynne Baptist Church is hosting a "Shepherding a Child's Heart" seminar with Dr. Tedd Tripp. I am extremely excited about what we will learn during the sessions and honored that we have the opportunity to have Dr. Tripp come and be with us.

Dr. Tripp recently led a conference at Mars Hill church in Seattle, WA and Justin Taylor has posted the video and audio of the conference. You can go there directly by clicking here.

I would encourage you to watch, listen, and/or download to listen part or all of the conference. It will make you want to make sure you are here January 8th and 9th AND invite everyone you know who have children in their home.

The conference at Wynne Baptist is free and childcare will be available by reservation [church office #: (870) 238-3271]. I would love to see you there!

"This Shouldn't Be" from IMB Connecting

Consider the following blurb posted from "IMB Connecting" recently:

Missionary drawdown ‘just shouldn’t be’ In a day of unprecedented global missions opportunity and great harvest, Southern Baptists will be forced to draw down their overseas missions force in 2010 by as many as 600 missionaries, IMB trustees were told Nov. 10. Trustees adopted a $317.6 million budget for 2010 and learned that $7.5 million will need to be pulled from contingency reserves to balance the budget, leaving only six weeks of available reserves in case of major unexpected expenses. “When we take up $12 billion in our offering plates and 2.2 percent finally arrives to support [international missions] … it just shouldn’t be,” said Gordon Fort, IMB vice president of global strategy.

May God help us.

Get Desiring God for Free TODAY!!!

As I mentioned last night in the service, today is the last day Christian Audio is offering John Piper's Desiring God for free.

Click here to go straight to the site where you can order and download the MP3 version for free.

Click here to download the ESV MP3 version of the Bible ($7.49).

Christian Audio offers a different book every month that they make available to download for free, so check it out again on Tuesday (December 1st) to see what they make available then.

Powerful, Interesting, and Insightful Challenge for a Great Commission Resurgence

At the Baptist Twenty-One Web-site, a two-part (so far) article has been posted regarding the need for a Great Commission Resurgence. It is a manuscript of Walter Price's President's address to the California Baptist State Convention recently.

It is very powerful. It is very insightful. It is very interesting. I would love to hear any comments or thoughts any of you have on what you read.

Any future 'parts' will be posted and linked to when they are made available.

GREAT Christmas Ideas!!!!

For WBC members (and anyone else for that matter), I will try my best to post any good, solid Christmas ideas I come across.

This one I recommended last year and highly (real high!) recommend again this year. My family continues to enjoy reading through this wonderful Storybook Bible.

This year, Zondervan has put together a Deluxe Edition of the Bible. If you click here you can read all about it and even check out a different video each week that they allow anyone to watch relating to a story in the storybook Bible.

Click here to watch the Christmas Story version (via Zach Nielson's blog).

If you have children, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, etc. I would encourage you to get this resource for them.

Images of Islam from the Boston Globe

I encourage you to click on the link below and ponder the lostness and the work that followers of Jesus have before us. Warning: The pictures are haunting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tony Dungy and the Correlation Between Being Pro-Life and Pro-Adoption

Check out this video over at Together for Adoption. Great word from a remarkable man of God.

Russell Moore on Adopting for Life Conference

Honestly, I am not posting the article below by Russell Moore because I am trying to promote the conference. I think it will be a great conference, and if you can go, please do. But his words on the Southern Baptist Convention, some people's understanding of adoption, and his response as to how this is a Great Commission thing is helpful and, in my opinion, well worth your time to read.

Why We Are Adopting For Life

This past summer, my denomination adopted a resolution “On Adoption and Orphan Care,” while my sons stood in the crowded room watching. It was one of the most emotionally weighty experiences of my life.
I knew the resolution by itself wasn’t going to spark an orphan care movement among Christians. Neither is my book on adoption, and neither are a thousand manifestoes on the subject. Only the Holy Spirit can do that as local churches start to embrace a vision for orphan care.
The resolution, though, was meant to prompt some questions. If one person in that convention hall was moved to simply pray, “Lord, how would you have me minister to orphans?” then the resolution was a success in my view. If one pastor was prompted to ponder how he could preach on adoption, or lead a foster care ministry among his folks, then the work has started.
I was overwhelmed with emotion on the platform to see my sons, two little ex-orphans, looking out on a sea of yellow ballots as thousands of my brothers and sisters affirmed that we want to be the people who love fatherless children. I realized that, in an alternative story, my boys would still be in an orphanage, not knowing even the name of Christ Jesus. But there they were, watching the world’s largest Protestant denomination recognize there are hundreds of thousands of children as helpless and alone as they once were.
There’s a long way to go. Literally one day after the resolution vote, I received correspondence from an employee of a denominational agency saying that adoption and orphan care doesn’t fit under the “umbrella” of “evangelism and missions.” Tell that to the thousands of children who know Christ today because they are growing up in Christian homes, rather than in institutions or on the streets. And tell it to Jesus who says something very different to us (Jas. 1:27). Following the Great Commission requires moving beyond short-sighted definitions of “evangelism and missions” as rallies and revivals.
But something is afoot among Christian families and churches of virtually every kind. God is calling the people of Christ to see the face of Jesus in the faces of orphans in North America and around the world. All brothers and sisters in Christ who affirm a belief in the authority of Scripture are recognizing that the Bible tells us that pure religion is defined by “care for the fatherless.”
As those who should be defined by our commitment to evangelism, we must confess that there is no greater field as “white unto harvest” right now as children in orphanages, group homes and the foster care system, children who don’t know a parent’s love and who don’t know the name of Jesus.
When Satan wars against children, we should be the ones who have compassion on them, even as Jesus did and does.
My prayer is that twenty years from now there will be thousands of pastors, missionaries and church leaders who started their lives as orphans, but are now preaching the gospel of God their Father.
Not many years ago, through infertility, miscarriage and two little boys in a Russian orphanage, the Lord changed my understanding of the gospel, of missions and of myself.
The Bible, after all, tells us that human families are reflective of an eternal fatherhood (Eph. 3:14-15). We know, then, what human fatherhood ought to look like on the basis of how Father God behaves toward us. But the reverse is also true. We see something of the way our God is fatherly toward us through our relationships with our own human fathers. And so Jesus tells us that in our human father’s provision and discipline we get a glimpse of God’s active love for us (Matt. 7:9-11; cf. Heb. 12:5-7). The same is at work in adoption.
If you sense the Lord may be calling you to adoption, or if you want to start a discussion on orphan care in your church, I hope you’ll join me for the “Adopting for Life” conference February 26-27, 2010, on the campus of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
You may be wondering whether this will be a conference about the doctrine of adoption or “real” adoption. Well, one of the things that we’ll be discussing is the fact that you can’t talk about the one without talking about the other. Also, it is not as though we master one aspect and then move to the other — from the vertical to the horizontal or the other way around. That’s not the picture God has embedded in his creation work.
So we’ve invited a number of great speakers to “Adopting for Life” — speakers such as David Platt, Jedd Medefind and Justin Taylor, with worship led by Andrew Peterson — who will seek to equip us to create a culture of adoption in our families and churches. We’ll be answering questions such as, “What does adoption have to do with the Great Commission?”, “How can I pay for adoption?”, and “How can we start an adoption ministry in my church?” — along with so many others.
I would love to see you here in Louisville for the “Adopting for Life” conference, as we think together about how God might be leading us to be on mission with Christ for the sake of the orphans of the world.
Join me and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we talk about how we can carry out the Great Commission through adoption. After all, adoption is about more than a manifesto. Caring for the orphans of the world, in the end, is about the gospel of our Lord — and our brother — Jesus.
Russell D. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ and Adopted for Life.

[This post was found from Tim Challies Blog]

The Old, Old Gospel VS. The 'New' Gospel

Kevin DeYoung posts an article that is extremely insightful and full of discernment about what is commonly preached today, versus what is the true, biblical, and authentic Gospel.

Click here to go directly to his blog and read what he writes about this. I would love to read any comments any of you have regarding what he says.

Here is a quote from the article to whet your appetite:

"Please, please, please, if you are enamored with the New Gospel or anything like it, consider if you are really being fair with your fellow Christians in always throwing them under the bus. Consider if you are preaching like Jesus did, who called people, not first of all to a way of life, but to repent and believe (Mark 1:15). And as me and my friends consider if we lack the necessary patience and humility to speak tenderly with non-Christians, consider if your God is a lopsided cartoon God who never takes offense at sin (because sin is more than just un-neighborliness) and never pours out wrath (except for the occasional judgment against the judgmental). Consider if you are giving due attention to the cross and the Lamb of God who died there to take away the sin of the world. Consider if your explanation of the Christian message sounds anything like what we hear from the Apostles in the book of Acts when they engage the world."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tom Ascol on the Great Commission Resurgence

Tom Ascol, over at Founders Ministries, posted this article earlier this week. I have pasted it below. I find it interesting and, I fear, he is right on target in much of his evaluation about the SBC. I would encourage any and all comments to what you think about his opinions.

Why I am hopeful about the GCR movement

Over the last several months I have repeatedly been asked why I support the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) and the broader impetus that led to its formation. A full explanation would include some necessary nuances and caveats that transcend the limits of a blog post, but the main reasons can at least be summarized here. These are, quite obviously, my opinions.I believe:

The SBC is unhealthy to the point that if it does not significantly change, it will become irrelevant beyond recovery within a few years. There are many who share my concerns--some of whom have already checked out of convention life while others are headed that way if things don't change for the better.

The SBC represents loads of potential for being an instrument of great good in the kingdom of God. It has been such in the past, and still is in some degree at present, but the potential is greater than anything we have seen thus far.

There are some in the SBC whose vision for what the convention should be is theologically naive and missiologically counterproductive.

There are others in the SBC who don't think about theology and missiology at all.

There are still over 6000 unreached people groups in the world--2000 years after our Lord commissioned His church to make disciples of all peoples.

The leaders who are at the helm of the call for a GCR are trustworthy men. I disagree with them on some doctrinal issues. But I do agree with them on the most important points of doctrine and I believe them to be men of integrity who will not kowtow to political pressure, even if it causes them to stand against men they esteem and love.

The GCRTF could--and should--come back with radical, convention-shocking recommendations that are rooted in a vision to marshal our resources to reach the nations.

The call for a GCR could be the greatest hope of this generation to unite churches around the gospel, under the sovereignty of God, to give our utmost energies to making disciples of the nations.

I am 52 years old. I have zero interest in investing one more dime or one more minute in any religious organization that does not serve churches in the mission to reach the nations. Our church is ramping up our efforts and sharpening our focus in this area and we want to partner with other churches that have a similar vision. We want to be challenged, encouraged, strengthened and linked with like-minded churches with whom we share core commitments.

I believe that at least many on the GCRTF share these concerns and believe that the SBC can become a far more effective vehicle than it currently is to assist churches in their efforts to enlarge the kingdom of God. If these concerns are courageously addressed in the GCRTF recommendations, then the SBC will be challenged to pursue a path that could lead to our most useful days.I have been around long enough to have been adequately disabused of any denominational naivety. Programs come and programs go.

Bravado and superlatives seem almost endemic to SBC life. Some may be tempted to speak of the GCR and the GCRTF in such ways. I am not in that number. I am hopeful, but I am not naive. I pray for Ronnie Floyd and his committee every day and I encourage you to do so, as well.We desperately need what the best declarations coming from those involved in the GCR movement are calling for. So I have been and remain supportive of the effort and praying that the Lord will use this to awaken, empower and unite Southern Baptists for the renewed purpose of "eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the denomination for the propagation of the gospel."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Adopted For Life On Sale!

Grace Books International is offering Russell Moore's Adopted for Life on sale for 40% off of retail.

Click here to find out more.

What a GREAT Word for Preachers!

I know that not many (I assume) who read this blog are preachers. There may be a few who are called, or will be called, to the Gospel ministry in the days to come. If so, the article I paste below will be worth your time. As I read the article below by Kevin DeYoung, I found my heart resonating with him and thankful for his words. By God's grace, He has been taking me through much of the same journey over the past months and years. Very intriguing and helpful article. I hope to go back to it from time and time and I hope to give it to upcoming preachers I have the opportunity to pour into in the years to come.

Here's the article below. I found it here. DeYoung blogs there and here. Enjoy!

Learning to be Yourself as a Preacher: From One Still Trying to Do Just That

by Kevin DeYoung

When Phillips Brooks famously defined preaching as “the communication of truth through personality” I do believe he was talking about your own personality and not someone else's. It has taken me awhile, but I finally feel like I have learned to be myself in the pulpit. Now whether this means my sermons are better or worse I can’t say. But being myself means my preaching is more genuine, more comfortable, and more sustainable. I know I have a lot to learn as a preacher, and I hope that ten years from now I’ll still get those awkward but true compliments–“your preaching has really improved over the years.” But at 32 I feel like I’m finally preaching the truth through my own personality.Like most young preachers, and not a few old ones, I’ve struggled to find my “voice” as a preacher.

When I was in college I started devouring the Reformers and Puritans. Everything I read seemed to be either hundreds of years old or was translated hundreds of years ago. As a result, my writing (I wasn’t doing much preaching at the time) sounded like I was aiming for the “just translated from Latin” award. My sentences were often elephantine. The grammar was antiquated and there were simply too many words. A very fine professor who affirmed me in many ways challenged me to write for my own century, not for the century of my heroes. It was painful advice at the time. I wasn’t quite sure I trusted him. After all, wasn’t it a mark of piety to use words like “behoove” “calumny” and “obfuscate”? Well, it wasn’t. I need to be myself and not put on puritan-sounding airs. (Incidentally, my cousin, and classmate during college, had a wonderful t-shirt at the time that read “Eschew Obfuscation.” And he was the one with a girlfriend during all four years! Go figure.)

In seminary I began to notice that many of my classmates sounded a lot like their homiletics professors. I still find this to be truth. It doesn’t matter where you go, preaching profs seem to crank out clones. Some of the blame may rest with instructors who place too much emphasis on their way of preaching–usually a way that works great for the teacher but doesn’t fit all the students. But some of the blame rests on the students too. We are desperate to latch on to some model so we end up copying wholesale what we see in those we respect, especially in those teaching us preaching. At Gordon-Conwell I saw lots of mini-Haddon Robinsons. This doesn’t mean all those students will turn out to be bad preachers, but they must realize there is only one Haddon Robinson. And they’re not it!

As much as I was blessed by Robinson’s sermons, I was more tempted to imitate other preachers. I’m sure that for the first years of my ministry I sounded at times like a (very) poor man’s version of John Piper. I was listening to so much Piper that I’m sure my prayers, my themes, and even the way I said “Joy!” was Piperesque. Don’t get me wrong, I make no bones about learning from Piper and being influence by him. I’d trade my sermons for his any day. But he’d probably be the first to say, “Preach the same gospel I preach. But you don’t have preach just like me.” It’s taken me several years, but I think I’m finally ok with not being John Piper. I just don’t think I have the same personality, let alone the same gifts.

Along the way there have been other famous preachers I’ve wanted to emulate. I wish I could walk through a text and use humor like Alistair Begg (with the accent too, of course). I wish I were as creative in my thinking and as culturally attuned as Tim Keller. I’d love to be as funny and humble as C.J. Mahaney. I’ve wondered at times what it would be like to do in-your-face as well as Driscoll, or be as smart as Carson (I tried saying "Eye-Ziah," but no one was fooled). Hey, I’ve even thought how cool it would be to communicate as cooly as Rob Bell.

Over the years, I’ve experimented with several different methods of delivery. I’ve preached without notes, with a half page of notes, and with a full manuscript because some preacher I love preaches each of those ways. But what works best for me and my style, at least at this point in my ministry, is to preach from a full set of notes that alternates between manuscripting and chicken scratch. Homiletics professors might hate me for saying this, but sometimes you just have to figure out what works for you. I’m sure there are certain principles that define all good preaching, but there’s also a whole lot “I’m not sure why, but this works for me.”

Since 2002, the year I was ordained, I estimate that I’ve preached almost 500 times (we have an evening service). And I think it took about 450 sermons to find my voice. This isn’t to say all those sermons were bad or untrue to myself. It’s not like I faked a Scottish accent or told stories about growing up in Greenville, South Carolina. But it’s taken me this long to realize the wisdom of Paul’s confession, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.”

One of the hardest things for any preacher to learn, especially young preachers, is to simply be yourself. Don’t put on someone else’s passion or humor or learning. And don’t take off your own personality because one of your heroes doesn’t share it exactly. Go ahead and learn from the best. But your congregation needs to hear you on Sunday, not an impression of the preacher you wish you were. Let your person constantly be refined by the Spirit of God, and let the truth of God’s word shine through your own personality. Preach as a dying man to dying men. And don’t forget to be your own man.

John Piper on Speaking at Angola Prison

Being that I am a NOBTS grad, the Angola Prison there is an extension of NOBTS, and John Piper had the opportunity to preach there, I was especially interested in his thoughts on his time there. Below is a recent article he posted:

One of the growing ministries of Desiring God is the outreach to prisoners. Those of you in the Philippian Fellowship hear about this more often than the rest of our website guests.

On Thursday a team of four of us stopped in at Angola Prison in Angola, Louisiana. Warden Burl Cain was very gracious to take us into his world, even the most painful part of it.

Here is what he said three years ago in Decision Magazine about this prison:

This prison is the largest maximum-security prison in America. It is one of the most famous prisons in the whole world. It has only murderers, rapists, armed robbers and habitual felons. The average sentence is 88 years, with 3,200 people in one place serving life sentences. Ninety percent of the inmates will die here. This is a place of hopelessness, so if Angola can change, the rest of the country’s prisons can’t say, “We can’t do this.”

For those who know prison culture from the inside, this place is astonishing. On a campus of 18,000 acres, which is mainly farm land, the prisoners raise virtually all their food and eat three meals for a total cost of $1.45 each. The fish and crawdads that we ate were from "the Farm.”
There is a local extension of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the prison and about 140 prisoners are enrolled. There are six churches in the prison and they train their own pastors. They send trained “missionaries” to other prisons to plant churches. They do this without using any tax money. But O the money—and lives—it saves!

Violence in the prison is rare. Courtesy and respect is pronounced. The ministry team of women who were visiting at the same time we were said they were treated with more respect from prisoners here, than in many places on the “outside.” Public profanity is not allowed.

The 42-inch church bell hangs high over the chapel in a prisoner-built tower. They rescued the bell from storage where it had been put after falling and killing a man. Some of the prisoners say: The bell killed a man and we killed a man, but now the bell and we serve the Lord Jesus.
Warden Cain says: I am as nice as they let me be and as mean as they make me be. Given the job he is given to do, it is a good motto.

I saw the Warden’s “nice” as we sat for half an hour with G.B., a prisoner on Death Row whose death by lethal injection the Warden will oversee in January. There are over 80 on death row, some now for over 14 years as appeals go on. The Warden asked me to share the gospel with G.B. Never have I felt a greater urgency to say the good news plainly and plead from my heart. The thief on the cross is a hero on Death Row.

The Warden answered all G.B.’s questions about what the last day would be like and who from his family and the press could be there. He gave G.B. unusual privileges for these last seven weeks. He was manifestly compassionate while stating the facts with precision. I took G.B.’s picture with my phone and said I would pray for him. (Perhaps you would too.)
I preached with all my heart to those who could fit in the chapel, and to the rest by closed circuit television. G.B. (and three others on Death Row) told me they’d be watching. I pulled no punches:

For 90% of you the next stop is not home and family, but heaven or hell. O what glorious news we have in that situation. And believe me it is not the prosperity of Gospel. Jesus came and died and rose again not mainly to be useful, but to be precious. And that he can be in Angola as well as Atlanta. Perhaps even more.

How NOT to be a Missional Church

I found these posts by Jonathan Dodson very interesting.

I would love to hear your thoughts on some of these suggestions. Dodson lists three ways to ensure your church is not "missional."

1. Be Event Driven. Click here to read.

2. Be Evangelism Driven. Click here to read.

3. Be Social-Action Driven. Click here to read.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great Date Night Ideas!

There are some good ideas in this list. “Tired of the old dinner-and-a-movie routine, but not sure what else to do on your date nights? Try these eight ideas to get your creative juices flowing!”

Suffering, Adoption, and the Gospel

Below is a post from Mike Pohlman from the Gospel Coalition site...

Suffering, Adoption, and the Gospel

Dan Cruver, director of Together for Adoption, has a moving couple of blog posts describing what he learned about the gospel of Christ through the suffering and death of his first son Daniel and adoption of his second son Noah Daniel.

Thank you, Dan, for your willingness to share the comfort you’ve received in Christ with those who may be in the midst of affliction (cf. 2 Cor. 1:3-7).

Part 1
Part 2

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Church's Role in Orphan Care

Via Zach Nielson's blog, I was led to this brief article from Matt Capps regarding the church's role in the global orphan crisis.

The post is below. Click here to go directly to his blog and to see a video apparently he and his church put together for Orphan Sunday.

"The very existence of orphans shows us that something has gone terribly wrong in creation. It’s been estimated that there are 143 million orphans in the world. Just for perspective, that’s almost half the population of the United States. In other words, that is 1 orphan for every 47 people in the world.

"As Christians we understand that the orphan crisis has a direct connection to the devastation of sin brought about by the fall of man. Consider the reasons why children are abandoned. These children have lost their parents because of war, genocide, natural disaster, disease, poverty, and the list goes on and on. The root problem goes back to the garden; sin is the “great orphan maker.” As Christians, we know that Christ destroyed the power of sin at the cross, and offers redemption by grace.

"As Christians we are adopted as sons and daughters and God uses us as the vehicles by which he demonstrates his love to a lost world. Think about it, the church is the community that gives the world a foretaste of the renewed creation, when all things will be “made new”. We have the responsibility of living now in light of what will one day be. And, who is more fully equipped to address the global orphan crisis than the church is?

"We are the people who have been entrusted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the eternal message of hope. We understand that “one day the very word orphan will be eliminated from the human vocabulary.” But until that day comes we as a church have a responsibility to proclaim the gospel not only in word, but in deed. Remember what James wrote, “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

"Ed Stetzer has rightly said that “even the un-churched know that Jesus was involved in social justice, and they often wonder why the church is not. You are the church” I believe that God is moving in the global Church right now on behalf of these children. Let’s be honest, 143 million is a very large number. Now, some of these orphans end up in relatives homes, but many of them don’t. If these children survive it is because of orphanages, foster homes, and adoption. How can God use you in the work of orphan care?"

Personal Bible Study Help

Today at Justin Taylor's blog, he posts two articles on how to better study your Bible. The subject headings have to do with asking questions of the Bible to help one probe deeper into what it says.

The first one (written by Taylor himself) "Asking Good Questions of the Bible" offers some very simple and helpful advice:

One of the challenges of biblical interpretation is that some sentences–especially in Paul–can have so much information tightly packed into them. Skim the surface of them and you may have a general sense of what he’s saying, but God is in the details!

Here’s one suggestion. Try to put down on paper the various questions that the passage is answering. You might want to start with the standard questions (who, what, when, where, why, how).

Here’s one example: a single sentence from Romans 8:3-4:
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

How do all these clauses relate to each other?

Here are some questions you can ask to find out:
What did God do?
He condemned sin in the flesh.
(Note: this is why Rom. 8:1 — “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”–is true. God has to condemn sin; he will either condemn your sin, or he has already condemned your sin in the sacrifice of his Son. Unite with Jesus and condemnation is gone forever.)

How did God condemn sin in the flesh?
By sending his own Son [Jesus].

How did Jesus come?
In the likeness of sinful flesh.

Why (negatively) did Jesus come?
For sin.

Why (positively) did Jesus come?
In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled.

In whom?

In us.

Who are we (negatively)?
Those who do not walk according to the flesh.

Who are we (positively)?
Those who walk according to the Spirit.

The second post is a written interview with Gerald Bray on asking the right questions of the Bible. Very, very helpful and, in my opinion, sound advice:

Three Questions with Gerald Bray: On Three Questions to Ask of Biblical Texts
Gerald Bray is Research Professor at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, and director of research for the Latimer Trust. This fall he is Scholar in Residence at Union University. He has taught theology for 30 years, is the author of numerous books, and is the editor of IVP’s Contours of Christian Theology series, penning its inaugural volume on The Doctrine of God. He is also the other of a large volume introducing the history of Biblical Interpretation. (Just to give you a sense of his learning and global interests, he is fluent in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek and Russian.)
He’s graciously answered a few questions for us on the basic questions to ask when interpreting Scripture.

What are the questions we should ask when approaching a passage of Scripture?
The first question we must ask of every biblical text is simply this—what does it tell us about God? What does it say about who he is and about what he does?

The second question is: what does this text say about us human beings? What are we meant to be and what has gone wrong?

The third and final question is: what has God done about this and what does he expect of us in the light of what he has done?

Asking these questions and seeking answers to them will help us interpret the Spirit’s message to Christ’s people and to each of us as individuals.

What about sections of Scripture that seem hard to apply? I’m thinking, for example, of the genealogies of 1 Chronicles.
These genealogies bring us a message from God even if they appear on the surface to be barren and unprofitable. All we have to do in order to understand them is to ask the right questions about them and their meaning will be quickly opened up to us.

Let me ask you, then, to answer the three questions you posed above. What do they teach us about God?
They tell us that he is a faithful God, who keeps his covenant from one generation to another. Whoever we are and however far we may be from the source of our human life in Adam, we are part of his plan. Over the centuries we may have developed in different ways, lost contact with one another and even turned on each other in hostility, but in spite of all that we are still related to one another and interconnected in ways that may go beyond our immediate understanding or experience.

What do they tell us about ourselves?
They say that most of us are nobodies from the world’s point of view. We live and die in a long chain of humanity but there is not much that anyone will remember of us as individuals. At the same time, without us, future generations will not be born and the legacy of the past will not be preserved. We are part of a great cloud of witnesses, a long chain of faithful people who have lived for God in the place where he put them. Even if we know little about them we owe them a great debt of gratitude for their loyalty and perseverance when they had little or nothing to gain from it or to show for it.

What do they tell us about God’s dealings with us?
They tell us that we too are called to be obedient and to keep the faith we have inherited, passing it on undiminished to the next generation. They tell us that there is a purpose in our calling that goes beyond ourselves. Even if we are not glorified and leave little for posterity to remember us by, we shall nevertheless have made an indispensable contribution to the purposes of God in human history.

Noel Piper Blogs about Their Adoption

For anyone interested, Noel Piper (wife of John Piper), has posted several articles about the adoption of their little girl Talitha.

Her blog is entitled, "Let The Nations Be Glad."

Another Great Quote from Keller's 'Counterfeit Gods'

I cannot recommend this book enough. It has laid my soul bare and liberated me to pursue with all of my heart the one, true idol: the Lord Jesus.

Order it today! Buy several copies and give them away as Christmas gifts for people you love. They will thank you for it! Go here to order it from Amazon.

Another great quote I read this morning:

"Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is a setting of the whole heart on something besides God. This cannot be remedied only by repenting that you have an idol, or using willpower to try to live differently. Turning from idols is not less than those two things, but is also far more. 'Setting your mind and heart on things above' where 'your life is hid with Christ in God' (Colossians 3:1-3) means appreciation, rejoicing, and resting in what Jesus has done for you. It entails joyful worship, a sense of God's reality in prayer. Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to 'plant' the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.

"Rejoicing and repentance must go together. Repentance without rejoicing will lead to despair. Rejoicing without repentance is shallow and will only provide passing inspiration instead of deep change. Indeed, it is when we rejoice over Jesus' sacrificial love for us most fully that, paradoxically, we are most truly convicted of our sin. When we repent out of fear of consequences, we are not really sorry for the sin, but for ourselves. Fear based repentance ('I'd better change or God will get me') is really self-pity. In fear-based repentance, we don't learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn't lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake. But when we rejoice over God's sacrificial, suffering love for us--seeing what it cose Him to save us from sin -- we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God. What most assures us of God's unconditional love (Jesus' costly death) is what that most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.

"...The gospel asks, What is operating in the placeo f Jesus Christ as your real, functional salvation and Savior? What are you looking to in order to justify yourself? Whatever it is, is a counterfeit god, and to make a change in your life, yo umust identify it and reject it as such."

(pages 171, 172, and 174)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Super Cool World Clock

Click here to check out the World Clock at the Joshua Project web-site. It is really neat and full of information.

Dan Cruver on "What Should Motivate Us to Give Financially for the Good of an Orphan?"

Dan Cruver, at Together for Adoption writes the following:

What should motivate us to give financially for the good of an orphan?
by Dan ~ November 12th, 2009

Here’s one way to motivate people to give financially for the good of an orphan: “If you make at least $30,000 annually, your income is in the top 7.16% worldwide. You are one of the wealthiest people in the world. Orphans are the poorest in the world. What’s preventing you from giving financially for the good of an orphan? You can certainly afford to give something!”

Here’s another: “‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9). You know what it’s like to be the poorest of the poor. Remember that you were at one time without hope and without God in this world. You were a spiritual orphan. But God in His great kindness sent His Son so that you might receive adoption of sons. When Jesus was forsaken by his Father at the cross, he suffered infinite poverty. He was forsaken so that you could be forever embraced. Look at how much you are loved! The love of the Father is your main wealth. When Jesus became poor for your sake, he gave you the eternal embrace of his Father.”
Both of these ways of motivation are legitimate. But the first seeks to motivate Christians merely on ethical grounds. The second seeks to motivate by overwhelming them with the wealth of love that is theirs in Jesus. Tim Keller, commenting on 2 Corinthians 8:9, writes:
Jesus, the God-Man, had infinite wealth, but if he had held on to it, we would have died in our spiritual poverty. That was the choice—if he stayed rich, we would die poor. If he died poor, we could become rich. Our sins would be forgiven, and we would be admitted into the family of God. Paul was not giving this church a mere ethical precept, exhorting them to stop loving money so much and become more generous. Rather, he recapitulated the gospel.
This is what Paul was saying. Jesus gave up all his treasure in heaven, in order to make you his treasure—for you are a treasured people (1 Peter 2:9-10). When you see him dying to make you his treasure, that will make him yours. Money will cease to be the currency of your significance and security, and you will want to bless others with what you have. To the degree that you grasp the gospel, money will have no dominion over you. Think on his costly grace until it changes you into generous people” (Counterfeit Gods, 67-68).

Yes, it is important to let people know what economic class they are in. We need to know how wealthy we are in comparison to most everyone else in the world. But if you really want to see people give, if you really want to see Christians become generous givers for the benefit of orphans, give them a fresh telling of the gospel. Melt their hearts with the good news of the gospel. Nothing motivates like the gospel. Nothing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sermon Outlines from Yesterday Morning and Evening

Sunday Morning, November 15th, 2009

"A Godward View of Money According to Ecclesiastes"
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, 6:1-6

Three Ways Money and/or Possessions are Meaningless in these Verses:

I. Wanting a lot of Money as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective

II. Having A lot of Money as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective

III. Owning A lot of Stuff as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective (6:1-6)

The Key to a Joy-filled Life: Contentment with God (5:18-20)

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Philippians 4:11-13
1 Timothy 6:6-8

Moving Toward a Life with Contentment and Joy in God:

1. Work toward putting a cap on your current lifestyle.

2. Getting more money is to be viewed as a direct means of demonstrating your supreme love of God.

3. Believe that this current economic recession or strenuous year for a farmer as a means of God’s protective grace for your soul.

4. Ecclesiastes 5 and 6 is not only true of an individual or a family, but true for the way a church operates as well.

5. Do an honest evaluation of your heart to, seeking as to whether or not your hope and joy is found in money or in God.

Sunday Evening, November 15th, 2009

“For GOD Has Done…” cont’d
Romans 8:1-17

How is it that one can know for certain that this has actually happened? (vs. 5-17)

(3). There is a longing to destroy the sinful works of the flesh (vs. 12-13).

What we must recognize right up front in Romans 8:12-13:

(a). Recognize where I get this third way to be certain of salvation.

(b). Recognize that there is a direct connection between verse 12 and what has gone before it (“So then…”)

(c). Recognize that the Christian life is war with one’s self.

Ways to fight indwelling sin according to Romans 8:12-13:

1. Ponder and embrace why Paul does NOT say that believers are debtors to the Spirit.

2. Be confident that you already have the power to fight sin by the Spirit that is in you.

3. Know clearly, however, what your role is and that overcoming sin is not automatic.

a.Recall that the war is not with the deeds themselves but within the spirit before
the deeds are committed – Ephesians 6:10-12
b.Fight inferior pleasures with a superior pleasure – John 16:13-14
c.Fight lies with truth – Ephesians 6:17
d.Fight by hoping in the greater outcome: life – Hebrews 12:1-2

Some of God's Purposes for the Recession

Yesterday morning I mentioned that this current economic recession we are in is actually a gift of God's grace for our souls. We are being forced to evaluate and think through some of the things that really matter in our lives and what things are ultimately important. God is giving us the chance to hope in Him and remember that our hope is not in our bank accounts or in our stuff.

I had planned on quoting from John Piper who had preached a sermon on this very thought a year or so ago. You can read, listen to, or watch his sermon here.

He lists five possible purposes of God in the recession (I was going to list the five in my message). They are:

(Some of) God’s Purposes in This Recession

1. He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.

2. He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.

3. He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.

4. He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.

5. He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.

Tim Keller Quote from Yesterday

During yesterday morning's message, I quoted from Tim Keller's book Counterfeit Gods. You can order it directly from Amazon by clicking here. I highly recommend it.

Here's the quote:

"Sin in our hearts affects our basic motivational drives so they become idolatrous, 'deep idols.' Some people are strongly motivated by a desire for influence and power, while others are more excited by approval or appreciation. Some want emotional and physical comfort more than anything else, while still others want security, the control of their environment. People with the deep idol of power do not mind being unpopular in order to gain influence. People who are most motivated by approval are the opposite--they will gladly lose power and control as long as everyone thinks wells of them. Each deep idol--power, approval, comfort, or control--generates a different set of fears and a different set of hopes.

" 'Surface idols' are things such as money, our spouse, or children, through which our deep idols seek fulillment. We are often superficial in the analysis of our idol structures. For example, money can be a surface idol that serves to satisfy more foundational impulses. Some people want lots of money as a way to control their world and life. Such people usually don't spend much money and live very modestly. They keep it all safely saved and invested, so they can feel completely secure in the world. Others want money for access to social circles and to make themselves beautiful and attractive. These people do spend their money on themselves in lavish ways. Other people want money because it gives them so much power over others. In every case, money functions as an idol and yet, because of various deep idols, it results in very different patterns of behavior.

"The person using money to serve a deep idol of control will often feel superior to people using money to attain power or social approval. In every case, however, money-idolatry enslaves and distorts lives."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jerry Rankin on the Great Commission Resurgence

Below is an article from Baptist Press reporting on a recent meeting between Jerry Rankin (current president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) and the IMB trustees. I, personally, think his words, thoughts, and challenges are right on the mark and we would all do well to heed diligently what he advises.

SHREVEPORT, La. (BP)--If Southern Baptists truly want to experience a Great Commission resurgence, they must turn their backs on business as usual and be willing to make radical changes in their missions commitment and approach, Jerry Rankin told International Mission Board trustees Nov. 10 in Shreveport, La.Rankin, who plans to retire as IMB president July 31, 2010, believes the 23-member task force studying how Southern Baptists can be more effective in obeying the Great Commission will bring some radical recommendations to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting June 15-16, 2010, in Orlando, Fla."We should not be afraid of making radical changes. If we come out just kind of tweaking what we are doing to try to do it a little better, that would be most unfortunate," Rankin said. "We are at a watershed time in history, with an unprecedented opportunity. God has blessed us and we must not become ingrown and self-focused, committed simply to continuing what we are doing in the way we are doing it. We've got to be willing to change."

Rankin said he finds some merit in the idea of merging the denomination's international and North American mission boards but only to the extent that it helps Southern Baptists accomplish the mandate to take the Gospel to "the the ends of the earth" and "make disciples of all nations.""If we're thinking of combining [the two boards] just for the sake of efficiency, thinking it will release more funds to be more focused on our mission task, I think that would be a huge misperception," Rankin said.Trying to merge the two entities could merely wind up creating "a complex, bureaucratic structure that would dilute the effectiveness of what each of us is doing," Rankin said.On the other hand, the current geographic dichotomy between North American and international missions "doesn't make a lot of sense and is a detriment to fulfilling our Great Commission task," he said. Nearly every "people group we would ever hope to reach anywhere in the world is found right here in our own country," Rankin said. "If there could be a way to come to a global missions entity that is focused on evangelizing and planting indigenous churches and reaching all the peoples of the world, whether here or overseas, there could be some merit in that.... We could not afford to be diluted in [the] focus and application of our resources on taking the Gospel to all peoples.

"One challenge in facilitating a Great Commission resurgence among Southern Baptists lies in that "Great Commission" is not a term found in the Bible and people differ in their definitions of its mandate, Rankin added.While the Bible passage usually identified as the Great Commission -- Matthew 28:19-20 -- makes it clear that Christ's mandate is to make disciples of all the world's people groups, the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 often are misunderstood, Rankin said.When Jesus told the disciples they would be His witnesses "in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth," He was outlining the progression the Gospel would take as it moved toward the "ends of the earth," Rankin said. Understood in the light of Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission is to focus on people groups that have yet to hear the Gospel and become disciples, he explained."Certainly God wants us to reach our home community, to evangelize our state, to minister to people in need," Rankin told IMB trustees. "But let's not misuse the Scripture to divert our attention from the focus of what the Great Commission is all about: reaching the ends of the earth, those that are yet to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"I am quite concerned we will miss [a Great Commission resurgence] if we miss that very foundation of what we're talking about when we talk about a Great Commission resurgence: to restore Southern Baptists to God's heart, God's priority as His people in reaching the nations and peoples of the world," Rankin said."If you define the Great Commission as anything and everything we do as a denomination, an increase in baptisms, more healthy churches, greater cultural impact on our society, there's not going to be a lot of change because we will just continue to do anything and everything the best that we can," Rankin said. "But I am convinced that God has blessed Southern Baptists, He has raised us up in numbers and resources, not to take pride in being a great denomination and how many programs we can implement and how well we can do them but to be His instrument to reach a lost world and fulfill His mission."

Rankin noted a recent report from Empty Tomb, a Christian research organization in Champaign, Ill., that Southern Baptists set a goal several years ago to fulfill the Great Commission and complete the task of reaching all peoples with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and calculated that if Southern Baptists could field 8,000 international missionaries, the remaining unreached people groups realistically could be engaged.The report, however, then went on to analyze what Southern Baptists do with the billions Southern Baptist churches receive each year and the amount of money actually allocated by the denomination to send out missionaries and finish the task of the Great Commission, Rankin said. The research organization's conclusion was that the Southern Baptist Convention has obviously implemented a goal not to fulfill the goal of the Great Commission, Rankin said. "We must be very careful of how we speak of other entities in our denomination. I know the leadership of our state conventions, our SBC entities, how conscientious they are, how sincerely dedicated to serving the Lord ... and the wonderful job they are doing. That's not the issue," Rankin said. "If we are to have a Great Commission resurgence, we've got to be willing to ask, 'How does it all stack up in relation to reaching the nations and getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth.'"

Mark Kelly, an assistant editor with Baptist Press, wrote this article for the International Mission Board. The picture posted above was retrieved from the Baptist Press web-site.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Views on the Cooperative Program and the Great Commission Resurgence

Through the Baptist Twenty-One Web-site (which I highly recommend checking out and surveying), I came across these two articles regarding the future of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, and the Great Commission Resurgence.

The article is called "Two Views of the Future" found at The Christian Index (Georgia Baptist's news site).

The first view is found here.

The second view is here.

Both are written by Southern Baptist pastor's with great hearts and obviously pastoring great churches.

I would love to hear anyone's thoughts on the views.

Check out this article too written by Doug Baker entitled "Our Ominous Future."

For Arkansans that are weighing in on this discussion, recall the unanimous vote last week at the state convention affirming the current allocations of Cooperative Program dollars.

Check out the story here.

From the article:

"Another resolution, on the ministry of the ABSC, affirmed the value and accomplishments of the various ABSC ministries and noted Cooperative Program funds given by Arkansas Baptist churches are 'managed prudently' and allocated with a vision for reaching the state, nation and world with the gospel. It further notes the value of associations, state conventions and the SBC in fulfilling the Acts 1:8 mandate.
'This resolution affirms our state convention in its use of Cooperative Program dollars and demonstrates that Arkansas Baptist pastors and church members both know about and approve of the Cooperative Program ministries across our state,' said Turner (Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention).
...All resolutions passed unanimously without discussion."

I would really love for WBCers to be 'in the know' on what is going on in and around our convention (speaking primarily of the national convention, but state as well). Please offer any thoughts or opinions you might have as you read and digest these things.

Upcoming Conference on Adoption

Looks like a great conference!

Click here to check out the details.

Dan Cruver on 'Seeing Jesus' and the Global Orphan Crisis

I came across the article below at Zach Nielson's blog. This was originally posted at Together for Adoption by Dan Cruver. I rejoice in this kind of thinking and agree wholeheartedly.

"Seeing Much More than Statistics"

We’ve all seen the statistics. There are more than 143,000,000 orphaned and vulnerable children in our world. I remind myself of that number every day.

All of us agree that we need more than statistics to awaken the church to address the global orphan crisis. We rightly say, “We need to see faces, images of these easily forgotten children. If the church is to be mobilized to care for these children, we must seem them as much more than statistics. We must see them as living, breathing image bearers.”

But I’m convinced we would also all agree that we need to see more than actual pictures and video clips of the orphaned and vulnerable children of our world, as important as those images are. If the church is to be fully mobilized to address the global orphan crisis, what we most need to see is not simply the face of an orphan but the face of Jesus.

We are all very familiar with these words of Jesus: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me . . . Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40).
Jesus’ words tell us that when we look into the face of the orphan or the face of the sick and oppressed, we are to see more than their faces. We are to see his.

But as critically important as it is for us to see the face of Jesus when we look into the face of an orphan, if Jesus’ face is all we see, we have not looked nearly carefully enough.

Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 25 just two days before he was “delivered up to be crucified” (see Matthew 26:1-2). When Jesus made the profound statement that we give him drink when we give water to the thirsty, he was about to thirst like no man has ever thirst before or since (John 19:28).

When Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” he was soon to become the outcast of all outcasts (Hebrews 13:12). Jesus was crucified among “strangers, the afflicted, and prisoners, who live outside the mainstream of urban life” (Craig Koester, Hebrews, 571).

When Jesus said,“I was naked and you clothed me,” he knew that he would first have to be left to die in nakedness at the cross before those words could become a reality for us.

The only way Jesus could say, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,” is if he first suffered an unquenchable thirst, an unsatisfiable hunger, an unspeakable forsakenness at the cross for us. Jesus suffered these things so that he could deliver us from our self-satisfied, self-focused, self-indulgent, orphan-neglecting, needy-ignoring lives.

Only when we see the crucified and risen face of Jesus in the Gospel will we be fully mobilized to address the global orphan crisis.

Yes, when we look into the face of an orphan, we need to see Jesus. But before we look into the face of an orphan, we need to be melted by the face of the crucified and risen Jesus as displayed for us in the Gospel. Only then will we really be able to move beyond statistics to care for the children they represent.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Great Site and Church 'Doing' Adoption

For more great resources on things relating to adoption, from links to frequently asked questions and answers, click here.

Go here to see what Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, TX is doing.

Great Site for Adoption/Orphan Care

Researching about how to create a "Culture of Adoption" at our church, I came across this page at

Click here to go directly to their "Resources" page. Tons of information!

Russell Moore on Sesame Street and the Church

Below is an article posted by Dr. Russell Moore at his blog. I was struck by his insight and thoughts on what the church can learn from Sesame Street. Very intriguing read for sure:

Sesame Street turns forty this week. And, if you’re under forty, I’ll bet just seeing those words in type means a theme song is now running through your head. That’s because the children’s educational television show has worked itself through an entire generation of American popular culture. There’s something here I think the church can learn from the Children’s Television Workshop.

Now, as I soon as I mention Sesame Street, I know some of you will balk about its educational value. You’ll point me to studies suggesting that learning the alphabet from singing puppets actually shortens kids’ attention spans. No argument here. But simply learning facts was never the primary goal of the program.

As the New York Times puts it, this was a “messianic show,” with a “mission” to remake the way children envisioned the world.

Yes, Big Bird and Bert and Ernie and Grover and Oscar the Grouch and their human co-stars would teach you about letters and numbers and safety tips. But, more than that, they would show you, by the characters they featured and the plotlines they put forward, a new way of seeing things on issues ranging from racial equality to obesity prevention to the global fight against AIDS.

I know that some immediately will conclude that I’m saying simply that churches should contextualize in their teaching and mission.

Yes, Sesame Street did contextualize. The writers and producers picked up on familiar themes such as advertising commercials (”This broadcast is brought to you by the letter ‘C.’”). They built their segments around a typical child’s attention span. They featured songs that were easy-to-sing and memorable (pop quiz: can you hum the tune of Ernie’s “Rubber Ducky” song? Of course you can).

And, yes, of course, churches should contextualize the gospel, addressing people in a language that can be heard and understood. But contextualization itself is not enough. Some of the most self-consciously contextualized churches are faddish and hyper-consumerist. They’re more like the mass-marketed latter years of Sesame Street, and less like the early, innovative, culture-shaping times. And we’ve got all the “Tickle Me Elmo” kinds of Christian ministries we can stand.

Sesame Street was effective because the program didn’t just contexutalize to the present; it contextualized to the future.

Remember, after all, when the show started. It was in 1969, the era of George Wallace and the Black Panther Party and campus race riots and the Richard Nixon “Southern Strategy.” From the very start, the program showed kids what few of them had ever seen before: a racially integrated neighborhood.

Now, Sesame Street could have done this with preachy didactic dialogue (kind of like Norman Lear’s Maude series). But instead, they showed kids racial equality, and made it normal for them, without ever saying much about it in the process.

As I read that, it struck me that, years before my Mississippi elementary school was integrated via busing, I’d seen African-American and Latino characters (such as “Gordon” and “Maria”) functioning as equal members of a society, on the television screen of my home.

“It’s almost too perfect that the first African-American president of the United States was elected in time for the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street,” the New York Times says. “The world is finally beginning to look the way that PBS show always made it out to be.”

What would happen if, whenever our culture saw love or reconciliation or peace, our neighbors said, “This is exactly the way that church always made life out to be?”

I wonder what would happen if our churches were to recognize our role in showing people the future, not just in our teaching and in our going but in our being? What kind of witness could we be to our communities, as fragmented as they are by race and class and economics and politics, if the very makeup of our congregations signaled the “manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10) in which “here there is no Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Schythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11)?

What if our children were accustomed to seeing black pastors of majority white churches, and vice-versa? What if a hotel janitor were named chairman of deacons in a wealthy suburban megachurch, because all recognized his spiritual maturity and nothing else mattered? What if our churches pioneered tort reform, not by arbitration alone, but by Christians agreeing cheerfully to be defrauded (1 Cor. 6)?

And what if all that started to seem normal to us?

The New York Times speaks of the “messianic mission” of Sesame Street and that’s, of course, tongue-in-cheek. But we really do, as the Body of Christ, have a mission that is, quite literally, messianic.

We’d still offend a lot of people. Jesus always does. But we’d offend them the way he did, with them peering over their shoulder in wonder on the way.

And some would come back, even if by cover of night, to ask us what we’re up to. Some of them would love our songs and listen to our teaching even before they believe it’s true, just because they would hope it would be true. They’d see a picture of the universe as it could be. As deeply as their sinful natures would draw back, the image of God within them would resonate with the beauty of a cosmos at peace.

It seems to me if this were the case, we’d have less abstract theology and fewer “faddish” principles to teach. We’d be announcing to the outside culture and to those who’ve taken refuge with us in Christ, “Welcome to the future, to the kingdom of Christ in miniature.”

Mission will always be difficult, as long as we’re fallen and there are demonic powers out there. Still, we can wonder what we might be able to get across to our neighbors if we market-tested the future (by faith), and not just the present (by sight).

The Sesame Street idea was a product of its time, a Great Society-era utopian project rooted in an understanding of history as “progressive.” The people of Christ know better. If our congregations are workshops of kingdom righteousness, we’ll have to make it clear that this isn’t natural, and it isn’t due to history or to progress or to us. We’ll have to say something like, ”This church has been brought to you by the letters ‘Alpha’ and ‘Omega.’”

Mike Huckabee Interviews FORMER Planned Parenthood Director

Justin Taylor posted this interview between Mike Huckabee and a former director for Planned Parenthood. After watching an ultrasound of an abortion, Abby Johnson is not an advocate for Life! Fascinating stuff.

Click here to go to his post and to watch the interview.

Gospel Music Channel Showing "Cry of the Orphan" Simulcast

If you missed the simulcast yesterday of "The Cry of the Orphan," the Gospel Music Channel web-site will be offering it for viewing purposes for the next few months.

Click here to find out more.

AM Sermon Outline from Yesterday

For those who attended the morning worship service at WBC yesterday, you will know that I flew through tons of material and verses from the book of Proverbs relating to money.

The sermon should be up on our web-site today or tomorrow. The outline will be there as well. Below I am posting the outline, with the Scripture references, and some extra quotes. Some of the quotes I gave during the message, some I had to leave out for the sake of time.

“God Or Money: No One Can Serve Two Masters” Series

“A Godward View of Money According to Proverbs”
Various Scriptures from the Book of Proverbs

I. The Diverse Angles Proverbs Has on Wealth and Poverty

A. Wealth is understood as a wonderful blessing from the LORD.

Proverbs 10:22
Proverbs 15:6
Proverbs 22:4

B. Wealth is understood as a horrible and worthless thing.

Proverbs 1:10-19
Proverbs 11:7, 16
Proverbs 28:8, 20, 22

C. Poverty is understood as a good and better thing.

Proverbs 15:16-17
Proverbs 16:8
Proverbs 17:1
Proverbs 19:1
Proverbs 22:22-23

D. Poverty is understood as a sinful and evil thing.

Proverbs 10:4-5
Proverbs 13:4
Proverbs 14:23
Proverbs 19:15
Proverbs 20:4, 13
Proverbs 24:30-34

II. Saving is Encouraged If and ONLY If…

A. Proverbs pointing to saving for the future as NOT being a sin.

Proverbs 6:6-8
Proverbs 13:11, 22
Proverbs 20:21
Proverbs 21:20
Proverbs 27:23-27

B. Proverbs pointing to riches being worthless to hope in.

Proverbs 13:8
Proverbs 23:4-5

C. Proverbs pointing the wisdom of one’s security being in the LORD, not money.

Proverbs 10:3, 16
Proverbs 11:4, 28
Proverbs 19:23

Saving is encouraged and wise, if and only if your purpose in saving is for the ultimate good of others and the exaltation of God’s name.

III. Giving is ALWAYS an EXPECTATION for God’s people; Taking is ALWAYS CONDEMNED.

A. Honor the LORD with your wealth – Proverbs 3:10-11
B. Giving increases wealth, hoarding brings suffering – Proverbs 11:24
C. Giving generously to the poor brings blessing from the LORD – Proverbs 14:20-21; Proverbs 22:9
D. Giving generously to the poor is like lending to the LORD Himself – Proverbs 19:17
E. Not heeding the cry of the poor will prevent God heeding your cry – Proverbs 21:13
F. A characteristic of those who are righteous is that of giving – Proverbs 21:25-26
G. Oppressing the poor or giving gifts to those who are rich will bring poverty – Proverbs 22:16
H. Giving to the poor will ensure all your needs being met – Proverbs 28:27


1. If the wealth you currently have is due to righteousness, integrity, and hard work, save wisely and give both generously and sacrificially.

2. For those who are thinking there is no way you can give generously and sacrificially as well as save for the future, be radically intentional and ask hard questions.

3. Seek after wisdom like you would $10 million.

Proverbs 2:1-7

4. Pray for a Godward balance in your everyday lifestyle.

Proverbs 30:7-9

5. Jesus, the wisdom of God Himself, is the only way for a life to be transformed to operate this way joyfully.


Richard Halverson said: “Jesus Christ said more about money than about any other single thing because, when it comes to a man’s real nature, money is of first importance. Money is an exact index to a man’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man’s character and how he handles his money.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. Hoarding is idolatry.”

Randy Alcorn says, “The distinction between financial responsibility and financial foolishness is this: Saving becomes hoarding when it is exercising our own sovereignty and financial independence so that God doesn’t have to come through for us.”

Larry Burkett, while he was still alive, said this about saving for retirement:
“Retirement planning so dominates the thinking of Christians who have sizable incomes that they overkill in this area enormously. The fear of doing without in the future causes many Christians to rob God’s work of the very funds He has provided. These monies are tucked away in retirement accounts for twenty or forty years. God’s Word does not prohibit but rather encourages saving for the future, including retirement, but the example of the rich fool, given in Luke 12:16-20, should be a clear direction that God’s balance is ‘when in doubt-give; don’t hoard.’”

John Wesley said, “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, and give as much as you can.”

William MacDonald said:
“Reserves are crutches and props which become a substitute for trust in the Lord. We can’t trust when we can see. Once we decide to provide for our future, we run into these problems. How much will be enough? How long will we live? Will there be a depression? Will there be inflation? Will we have medical bills?
It is impossible to know how much will be enough. Therefore we spend our lives amassing wealth to provide for a few short years of retirement. In the meantime, God has been robbed and our own life has been spent seeking security where it cannot be found.
How much better it is to work diligently for our current necessities, serve the Lord to the maximum extent, put everything above present needs into the work of the Lord, and trust Him for the future?”

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bruce Ware's 10 Reasons to Focus on the Wonder of the Trinity

In preparation for Sunday night's message (of which I will be focusing on Romans 8:9-11), I came across these from Bruce Ware's book Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles and Relevance. You can order it from Amazon here.

In the first chapter he offers ten reasons on why to focus on the wonder of the Trinity.


1. The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important distinguishing doctrines of the Christian faith and therefore is deserving of our careful study, passionate embrace, and thoughtful application.

2. The doctrine of the Trinity is both central and necessary for the Christian faith to be what it is. Remove the Trinity, and the whole Christian faith disintegrates.

3. Worship of the true and living God consciously acknowledges the relationship and roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

4. The Christian's life of prayer must rightly acknowledge the roles of Father, Son, and Spirit as we pray to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit.

5. The Christian's growth in Christlikeness or sanctification is rightly understood and enriched when seen as the work of the triune God.

6. The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cause us to marvel at the unity of the triune God.

7. The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cause us to marvel at the diversity within the triune God.

8. The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cause us to wonder at the social relationality of the triune God.

9. The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cause us to marvel at the authority-submission structure that exists eternally in the three Persons in the Godhead, each of whom is equally and fully God.

10. The doctrine of the Trinity -- on God existing in three Persons in the ways we have described -- provides one of the most important and neglected patterns for how human life and relationships are to be conducted.

Consider and Compare These Two 'Needs'

Consider First.....

(I found this at Zach Nielson's Blog...)

What Would It Take For Every Child In the US To Be Adopted?

Turns out, not as much as you might think.

Jason Kovacs, The Abba Fund:

Did you know that there are roughly 130,000 children that are waiting for adoption in the United States today? These children have had their parental rights terminated and living in temporary situation (either a temporary foster family or group home). Legally they are wards of the State with no parents but the government. You can adopt these children at no cost! In fact, in most States, you will receive a monthly stipend.

Every child in America (in the world) should have a permanent family. There is no excuse for this! So, what would it take to find each of these kids a family? To start off, I broke down the numbers by Southern Baptist Churches (they were the easiest to find figures for – as I have time I will add up all the other evangelical denominations – my initial count is roughly 170,213).

But, just counting Southern Baptist churches the results and ratios are very powerful. There are roughly 40,000 Southern Baptist Churches in the US. If every church committed to 3 children, every child would be cared for. In 11 States all it would take is 1 church committing to 1 child. Again, that is just counting the SBC!

Will you please 1) Look at the numbers below, and 2) pray with me that God would move in an unprecendented way among His church to see that every one of these children (every number is a child!) have a permanent home. And in the case of the children represented below who are 16-17 years old and about to age out of the system, pray that they would have a family who would commit to care for them when they are left on their own in a couple months or a year.
For the full chart with all 50 States click here to download in pdf.

To go directly to this link where it was found click here.

Now Consider These...

Be sure to read the descriptions why and what motivated those behind these projects... - $130 million campaign - $5 million campaign

God help us.