Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Reading

I am a book aficionado. And now that my semester reading is done for seminary, I can actually get to some Christmas reading. I have a large stack of books that have been piling up in my apartment unread.

I just finished Joel C. Rosenberg’s most recent (nonfiction) book: Epicenter: Why the Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future. It was a quick read, and I was riveted. Perhaps later I’ll post my own review of it. I enjoyed this one, and will probably be reading the rest of Rosenberg’s political novels in the near future. I highly endorse this book.

Next I’m looking forward to reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. I greatly enjoyed The Tipping Point and in fact would consider it one of the best and most influential books I’ve read. It deals with issues in marketing, trends, and life in general. I remember one occasion, before I bought Blink, sitting in the aisle at Borders and reading the first chapter. Once again, I was riveted. I knew at that point that Blink would be a must-read.

I’ll also be looking forward to another book that I just recently got: Love Worth Finding: The Life of Adrian Rogers And His Philosophy of Preaching by his wife Joyce. I remember the only time I heard Dr. Rogers speak in person. He spoke for only about 20 minutes, and left me wanting more! I felt as though he’d only spoken for 5! Come to think of it, Ben Cole has a neat video on his blog about the life of Dr. Rogers. You might want to check it out. I might actually read this one next because I’m taking a preaching class this spring. I do believe that Adrian Rogers was one of the greatest preachers of the 20th Century without a doubt. I’m definitely looking forward to this read.

Third, I’m looking at reading Erwin McManus’s The Barbarian Way. I’ve been interested in reading this one for a long time now. I liked Eldridge’s Wild at Heart, though I was less impressed with his other works. I like the idea of an untamed faith. I’ve not read anything from McManus yet, but he seems to have some good stuff out.

I may not be able to get to all of these until spring break, but I definitely think that this will make my break go quickly. This will certainly make my Christmas at my in-laws’ (this is my first married Christmas – pray for me brethren and sistren), but I’ve no doubt this will speed things along.

Merry Christmas all!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Last Days

Since finals are over now, I've had a little free time and have begun reading a new book byJoel C. Rosenberg. I've been impressed by Rosenberg's work, I read one of his novels and am currently reading his nonfiction work entitled Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Well Change Your Future. It makes for quite an interesting read so far, and it's gotten me thinking, "are we really living in the end times?"

I recognize that this question has been asked for a long, long time by an innumerable number of believers. Every generation has had people who believed they were living in the last days. Jesus warns that no one knows the day nor the hour except the Father in Heaven, but warns us to be vigilant (Mt. 24; Mk 13).

Rosenberg brings together some points that I found quite interesting. First, he discusses the "political earthquakes" that have been shaking the middle east in the past several years (it's interesting that he quotes several different news sources that all use the same "earthquake" language). He also points to the rise of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose goal is to get nuclear weapons and unleash them upon Israel. Rosenburg says of Ahmadinejad, "He told associates that he believed the end of the world was just two or three years away. He said he believed he had been chosen by Allah to become Iran's leader at this critical hour to hasten the coming of the Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam or the Mahdi by launching a final holy war against Christians and Jews." This sounds like it fits quite well with events depicted in Judeo-Christian apocalyptic accounts (Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation). The Twelfth Imam is a "messiah" (jewish word is "christ") - if he is a false messiah he is "anti-christ." I've somehow not heard anyone make that connection yet, but it's probably just that I've not been looking or listening to the right things at the right time.

Ahmadinejad has declared that he wants to start a holy war with his nuclear weapons in the next two or three years (i.e., 2007-2009 - he was elected in 2005). He has declared that he wants to destroy Israel (the "little satan") and America (the "great satan"). During the next two or three years the following are scheduled to happen -- George W. Bush leaves office, a new president is elected, US troops begin to leave Iraq(?), British PM Tony Blair leaves office. This removes some of the personalities with the strongest motivation to fight the forces of radical Islamic terrorism. Will the next leaders be willing to give them control of the middle east? The fictional future that Rosenberg portrays in his novels indicates that he believes our leaders will not have the will to stop them.

My point with this post is not to speculate about when Christ is coming back or the order of events surrounding his return. Rather, I'm simply asking a few questions. If He is coming back soon are we ready and waiting or are we preoccupied with other things? Will we be living in comfort, insulated from the World up until then? Will we continue to live as we have, or will we begin to have an end-times mindset that places our own comforts on the back burner? I know it was an eye-opener for me. I haven't been living as though I expected Christ to come back in my lifetime. I think that many others like me have been lulled into a false sense of comfort. We just assume that life will continue on just as it always has because it always has.

At first, when I began reading and began to realize that the end could be near, I was a bit unnerved. Then I recognized that there is nothing I can do to stop or forestall it. God will send Christ back when the time is right, and only He knows when that will be. Ultimately I know that things will get bad (whether or not we'll be here remains to be seen), but in the end Jesus will prevail and set up His eternal reign on earth. Let not your hearts be troubled, but let's at least recognize that we are in a time and geo-political situation that could be just what the Bible describes. Are we ready?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Still alive an Blogging

Well, I've not posted anything in some time, but I am still alive. I've not been on a "blog fast" per se, it's just that other things have taken my attention of late. Like many others I get tired of hearing about how busy we all are, and so I'll not say that "I've been busy" (haven't we all?). Lately there seems to have been little in the blog world to interest me, and more and more in other spheres that has grabbed my attention.

I'm formulating some thoughts for new posts and should be working on some things soon--my last final exam is tomorrow, so we may see something here before the end of the week.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Which Is More Important: Being Right or Being Righteous?

Recent news from the annual SBTC meeting has raised quite a bit of discussion. Of interest is the discussion on Art Rogers’s Twelve Witnesses blog. After reading this discussion, I was prompted to read and discuss the 2006 resolutions from the SBTC meeting. A pastor friend of mine pointed out some surprising resolutions, which I believe merit closer scrutiny. First off, these resolutions merit scrutiny because they were discussed and examined by committee members and then, presumably, the voting body present at the meeting. Secondly, they represent the views of a significant portion of Southern Baptists (significant, though I could not give any specific number or percentage).

Here are some of the resolutions: (for further reference see the SBTC 2006 Resolutions [pdf format]). Bold emphasis mine.
Resolution #2 “On the Sufficiency of the Word of God for the Entire Christian Life”
The resolution runs into trouble about second resolution statement:
RESOLVED, we call on Texas Southern Baptists to remember that the Word of God alone is righteous, and that fallen human beings lack righteousness; and be it further

WHAT? The Word of God is certainly inspired, but not righteous, nor is IT righteous ALONE. Friends, the Bible tells us what is and is not righteous, but I know of nowhere in the scriptures that Bible is called righteous, much less exclusively holding such an attribute (an attribute of God no less). Let us continue:
RESOLVED, we encourage Southern Baptists to remember that the Word of God alone is able to redeem sinful human beings, and that they may look nowhere else than to the Bible for the source of redemption; and be it further

Did I miss something? Whatever happened to “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus?” Now the Bible (a Holy book and the Word of God) is able to save us? Should we put our faith in the Bible or in the God that it tells us about?

We’re doing ok with the rest of the resolutions, which are emphasize the importance of the study and application of the Word of God. I want to comment again on a couple of things. I totally agree that we should give the Bible precedence over any other reading, studying, or singing material. We definitely ought to live, worship, disciple, and minister according to the Word of God, although we must remember that we worship not the Bible itself, but Jesus Christ, without whom there would be no need for such a book.

Q: How did this slip by so many people? Was this an accident or was there something that I missed. I read the Observations (the WHEREAS statements), so I think I got the context, but I still don’t see a reason to elevate scripture to the role of Savior.

The third resolution of the SBTC was concerning Tongues and a Private Prayer Language.

The resolutions are as follows:

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention meeting in Austin, Texas, November 13-14, 2006, declare that Southern Baptists in Texas typically believe that the modern practice of private prayer languages lacks a tangible foundation in Scripture; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we are opposed to unscriptural teaching relating to speaking in tongues, whether such speech be done in private or public; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention not knowingly to employ consultants and ministry staff who participate in or promote views or practices contrary to the position described herein; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage all Southern Baptists to be patient, kind, and loving toward one another (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) regarding this ancillary theological issue, which ought not to constitute a test of fellowship; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we encourage all Southern Baptists to refocus their attention upon the public and intelligible proclamation of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the divine Trinity, Who became a man, died on the cross, and arose from the dead, so that those who believe in Him may have eternal and abundant life.

Now for my question: Why? I don’t mean the observations (the WHEREAS statements), I mean why the whole resolution on this. I understand that the issue was brought up recently and has been a big deal, but it is an issue that divides, and needlessly so. I read the resolutions that say that "this ought not to constitute a test of fellowship," but they've left no room for those who wholeheartedly embrace the private prayer language. They include the cessationist and open but cautious, but exclude continualists.

My personal views on the private prayer language (and a number of other charismata) would best be described as an “open but cautious” view. I am not a cessationist, nor an avid continualist. One of the central issues that faces the SBC today and various state conventions and associations down to the personal level is a single question. The question here is whether it is more important to be right or more important to be righteous. The two are not always mutually exclusive, but in this instance, as with a number of non-essentials, the question is valid.

We must ask ourselves if it is more important to cooperate with others who may disagree with us on non-essential issues (I’m talking about others of like faith here) to further the work of the Kingdom or if it is more important to be right on the non-essential issues. If being right is more important, then we’re in the wrong. Are we so fixated on the small issues that we lose sight of the big ones? How much have churches grown in the SBTC this year? How many new people have we reached with the gospel? Can cooperating with other churches improve these areas? How many people will be saved by denouncing a private prayer language? Surely that will make people run to our churches! (I think not).

The other resolutions (on which I will not now comment at length) include topics of: Alcohol, Immigration, Wal-Mart (will a boycott follow?), North Korea (I definitely agree with boycotting them), The CP, and The conflict in Darfur.

In conclusion I have to say this; we ought to continue to carefully consider the issues that we give weight to. I agree that a number of these issues are important and should be addressed, but others may be best left without an official position. If we are obsessed with being right, how far will we go to make sure that we are always right? Will we exclude anyone who disagrees with us? When that happens we will end up alone and powerless to bring about any change in our world. Let us remember that it is through our faith and our unity (i.e. cooperation) that we are able to be God’s agents for change in this world.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A New Day, and we're still alive

I’ll admit, I was feeling a little low yesterday. Partly because it’s that time of the semester at seminary, but the other part was due to the changes going on in our government. The Democrats won both houses of Congress, beating out, in many cases, individuals that I thought better qualified to represent the American people. The other big change was the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. That made me sad too; he has been a stalwart defender of the President and of our military and has been just the right man to lead the War on Terror and our armed forces.

Today is a new day, however. The people have spoken and placed Capitol Hill under new management. I’m willing to give the incoming congress a chance—it’s not like I have much of a choice. In light of things I’ve said before, I’ll also restate my conviction that we must submit to those who rule over us (cf. 1 Peter 2, Romans 13), and pray for them. I’ll also remind readers that if we ever become dissatisfied with our leaders we live in a nation where it is we, the people, who choose them.

I’m excited about the new Defense Secretary Dr. Bob Gates. He is currently the president of Texas A&M, and my Aggie friends speak highly of him. I pray that he will do as good a job as Rumsfeld has done these past six years. I look forward to his leadership.

Finally, I’m reminded of two things: The first is that God is still in control and was not caught off guard by anything that has in recent days. In fact, God rules the rulers of nations. Proverbs 21:1 says, "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will."
The second thing I'm reminded of is that I ought to pray more for my leaders. It’s odd that what seems like a conservative defeat would encourage such, but then again not. May God continue to bless us and may we continue to seek Him and bless His name.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Being Thankful a Little Early This Year

I just read another great post from Kevin Bussey and thankfulness. His post is about the SBC, but I want to expand upon it just a little.

It's now November, and Thanksgiving is still 22 days away (which means my 24th birthday is 24 days away), but it's never too early to be thankful. I cannot recall all the blessings God has bestowed upon me in just the last few years, much less throughout my whole life, but that won't stop me for trying. I'll spare those of you who are reading and just post a few things I am thankful for.

First, I'm thankful that God, who created everything that is from nothing, and who is so powerful, intelligent, and righteous, also loves me. I'm thankful that His love, like His other attributes, is so great that He sent His one and only Son to come and die so that I can have a relationship with Him. In short, I'm thankful for Jesus.

Second, I'm thankful that I have been born in a nation where we can worship God freely, and that we are free to worship, free to govern ourselves, and blessed with an abundance to have and to share. We have it good.

I'm thankful for my family. For parents and grandparents who gave me a heritage of faith and taught me the lessons that will continue to help me to live wisely and successfully, and for a wife who is truly a gift from God and whom I love very much.

I'm thankful for the education I've received: For Jerry Falwell and Liberty University who furnished me with a strong conservative Christian college education; and for the SBC, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Paige Patterson who all contribute to my continuing education as I'm here in seminary.

I'm thankful for the church family that I've had, and the people who've ministered to me and allowed me to minister to them: for Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Mississippi where my family and so many dear ones worship together--they've meant more than I can say; for First Baptist Church Smyrna, Tennessee where the staff loved me and gave me so many learning opportunities as an intern; for North Richland Hills Baptist Church where I now serve and am growing to love the people more and more.

I'm not just thankful for the spiritual blessings in my life, but for friends, for loved ones, and for material blessings also. There's too much to be thankful for to tell it all in one sitting. Perhaps we should treat Thanksgiving like some other Christian holidays (Christmas and Easter), counting down to it and preparing ourselves as many do by celebrating Lent or Advent (no, they don't have to be just for Catholics). Here's hoping for 365 days of Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Programs and Purpose

It's been a while since I've put up anything new and I've got something on my mind, so I'll post it here. Last night my church hosted a Fall Festival. This was my first big event to organize and was a big learning experience. We had a great turnout and I had a great time. (I still have some kind of whiplash from that bungee run that we had).

I've been discussing this afternoon the merits of such events as our Fall Festival. The main question has been that of purpose. I've read Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church and understand that the church is not about programs, but purposes. As we continue to evaluate and adapt our programs to our purpose, I want to encourage others to do the same.

How many programs exist in our churches today because "we've always done that," or "the church members like it." Cutting out programs that do not conform to the mission of our churches is never easy, nor is changing these programs. Some of these are like the "third rail" of our churches. (Touch it and die!) I pray that I do not become to "locked in" to any single way of doing things that it becomes a rut. One of my professors used to say that a rut was just a grave with the ends knocked out! May God continue to bless what we do when we're obedient to Him and help us to change when we're not.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What Makes the SBC Great

I have always attended only Southern Baptist Churches. All my life I’ve been taught that the SBC is great and that Southern Baptist is the way to be. As a child and a youth I never questioned why I was a Baptist, but once I began my college and seminary education I did question. As I have learned about our Baptist Heritage, our Baptist Polity, and Baptist theology I am still as convinced as ever that I am Southern Baptist, now by conviction not simply by upbringing.

Although I confess I do not know everything there is to know about the SBC or its politics, I recognize that our convention at a crossroads. There are voices and personalities vying for change in the convention. Some cry out for widening the SBC “tent,” others for narrowing it. I personally tend to like this old tent the way it is.

While this squabble goes on and tensions build, I seek to humbly remind those who will listen of the simple beauty of the denomination to which we belong.

The SBC is great for a number of reasons. Foremost of these reasons is a single overarching principle—unity amidst diversity. Although we come from different places, backgrounds, and sometimes speak different languages; although we may govern our churches differently, or have different priorities in ministry; although our churches may be big, HUGE, small, or tiny; despite all our differences we come together under one banner and one simple belief system that uniquely defines us all as “Baptist.”

Our unity makes us great: Although the SBC claims over 16 million people in over 40,000 congregations, all Southern Baptists are united by a single faith. We affirm Jesus Christ to be the true and only way of Salvation. We honor and study the same holy book – the Bible. Southern Baptist churches are guided by two documents—the Bible and the Baptist Faith and Message.

Our mission makes us great: Southern Baptists recognize that Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and proclaim the Good News. To this end, Baptists send hundreds of missionaries, raise millions of dollars, and have formed benchmark organizations such as the NAMB and IMB.

Our structure makes us great: The SBC is not one big church; it is thousands of individual churches, with their own unique values and goals that have come together to support a greater mission or cause—namely the advancement of the Gospel. Our cooperative program funds the six major SBC seminaries (one of which I attend), as well as our missions organizations, and a number of other endeavors. Our size is a strength because it allows us to mobilize resources on a scale that none of us could achieve individually.

Our heritage makes us great: While there have been blots on our past, such as slavery and segregation, the SBC also carries a rich tradition of faithfulness to the word of God. In the past century and a half the SBC has raised up numerous men and women of God, many who have gone on to achieve great recognition and prominence, and more still who will be richly rewarded in heaven if not on earth.

Finally, the SBC is great because of our future potential. As a seminary student I see that there is the potential for a bright future in ministry, not only for me but also for the many other seminarians and young ministers who serve Christ within our denomination. There is also a potential for strife and dissention in our near future. We must choose today what we consider important, as our actions now will determine our future. Will we seek to conform the SBC to our personalities or will we leave room for disagreement? We must hold the line and maintain the integrity of orthodox and Baptist theology while at the same time allowing the diversity that makes us great.

Here’s the bottom line: If we narrow the tent too far, it will fall down upon us; widen it too broadly and it will come apart at the seams. We must determine where to put the stakes into the ground and leave them there. The BFM 2000 is still a good tent, in it there’s some clarity but we must maintain room for diversity.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why I Blog

There seems to be a lot going on the Baptist Blogosphere these days. There are trustees meeting at SWBTS, Dwight McKissic is in the news again, there’s the mass assault on likes of Paige Patterson and the Caner brothers, and there’s talk of legal culpability for bloggers who post or allow libelous content on their blogs. In the midst of this, I’m tempted to dive headlong into the fray, but instead I pause here to give a perspective on blogging.

I have been blogging now for a mere two months—here it can seem like a great deal of time. In that limited amount of time I have seen many opinions, attacks, rumors, and downright stupidity asserted within the blogosphere. Conversely, I’ve also seen some decent writings, some people who seem to be genuine, and some who truly have something meaningful to say (although it’s quite demanding I’m sure and I don’t see how they do it).

In the midst of all this, here I am and here’s why I blog:

- I blog because I believe in the exchange of ideas. Just because some these ideas are ill-conceived or misguided does not mean that the exchange should not go on.

- I blog to be sharpened. As I blog I’m challenged by those like Ben Cole who, although I may not always agree with him, knows grammar, spelling, and word usage and at times castigates other bloggers for grammatical or spelling infractions. I’m also sharpened by some of the theological debate (both good and bad) that goes on.

- I blog to learn. There are blogs like Kevin Bussey’s that often have news updates on issues that interest me. There are also a vast number of blogs dealing with issues of theology. I get to read numerous viewpoints and arguments (some persuasive, some ill-conceived) for and against certain beliefs. Furthermore, I can learn almost anything about SBC politics from the blogs I read. The better question is, “how much of it is worth knowing?”

- I blog to express myself. I’ve heard it said that ideas can untangle themselves over lips and through fingertips. This means that we often are able to process thoughts better by speaking or writing them. As a verbal person, this is often a big help to me. Furthermore, sometimes I have something to say and this provides me a simple outlet through which I can express my viewpoint.

- I blog to think. Too often this is something that is lacking in the blogosphere. As I prepare a post I try to give careful thought to what I will say. It is disappointing as I read other blogs to see well articulated—clearly thought out arguments that are juxtaposed with ignorant off-handed remarks. Worse still are the posts that do not reflect or encourage thinking.

Here’s the reversal:

- I do not blog to build my own ego. This can be a struggle for me from time to time, but ultimately I have a life beyond this blog. While I confess I have a counter on my blog and like to see the numbers go up, that's not what I'm all about. My ideas may be accepted, rejected, or ignored, but here they are. Too often it seems that the criticism of narcissism is true of some bloggers. I pray that it is never something that may be accurately said of me.

- I do not blog to tear others down. This is not an anti-so-and-so blog. There are anti-Patterson Blogs, anti-Burleson blogs, anti-Page blogs, and so many others. If there’s someone to criticize, bloggers are there criticizing or libeling them. This is unChristlike and unacceptable.

- I do not blog to share rumors, lies, or urban myths. These blogs exist and ensnare far too many—God will judge them for leading those astray.

- I do not blog to support “the establishment.” My views are my own and may or may not coincide with those of certain institutions or important individuals. My views do often happen to be in line with the school I attend (SWBTS), the church I attend (North Richland Hills Baptist Church), and the country I live in and serve. However, when my views tend to diverge, they’re mine, and belong to none of these.

I know better than to think that my thoughts and reasons on blogging will turn the Baptist blogosphere around, but there does seem to be a backlash against those who post negligently ignorant, misguided, or libelous content. Maybe others will clean up their acts or find another pastime. I enjoy blogging for now, but when it becomes a burden rather than a joy, I too will find another pastime.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Politics and the SBC pt.2

In my previous post I discussed my views on the issue of politics within the SBC. I discussed a few definitions of politics and I made this statement:
The Church in America must stop playing politics, but must not retreat from the political realm altogether.

Having discussed this issue of playing politics within the Church, I believe it is important to look at the role the Church (and the SBC in particular since that is the church or group of church of which I am a part) within the political realm.

First, what I’m not saying. I am not doing an about-face on my previous post. I am not advocating that the church ought to “play politics” outside its boundaries while not playing politics within. My views on this issue are somewhat Falwellian, this I admit up front. I was a student at Liberty University for four years and agree in many respects with his philosophy of political involvement. With that said I will proceed to lay out my own view (not necessarily his view).

Should the church be involved in the political realm? YES!

It seems foolish to ignore the political realm because we believe in separation of church and state. Separation of Church and State may be a good policy in a number of respects, but it ought not equate to separation of Christians from government. When we surrender the political realm to those whose worldviews are diametrically opposed to ours we are not being godly, we are being negligent. I am not saying that America should be ruled by the Bible, but that I would much rather have advocates within the government who will be sympathetic to the Church and allow the free spread of the gospel than be ruled by those who are more sympathetic toward Muslim or atheistic influences to the exclusion of Christianity.

As to the issue of persecution, I too agree that the church often grows through persecution, yet I recall that persecution and subjugation in the Old Testament are punishments for not honoring God in the first place. We should desire to be more Christ-like, and as we pursue that goal we will encounter more than enough suffering without actively seeking it. Our goal should be godliness, and not the persecution that often leads to it.

Having answered one objection I’ll move to another. Some will say that we ought to stay out of the political realm because “politics is evil,” or “the devil’s business,” or some such nonsense. These arguments ultimately fall flat because their foundation—the premise that politics is wicked simply is not so. The fact that many politicians are not good people, or do not hold to a standard of Christian morality does not make the science of politics inherently evil. With that said, however, I do agree that we must guard our hearts when we do foray into that arena, for we know that power and money can often lead to corruption (but that’s a post for another day).

The corruption within the political realm seems to be all the more reason for the church to go there. Three of the gospels give an account of Jesus dining with Matthew (who had been a tax collector). The Pharisees question Him and here is what Matthew’s own account says:
“And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:11-13

There’s a post on Bowden McElroy’s blog about some others who are going where the sinners are here. We must be willing to go where the gospel is needed – this includes confronting our leaders with the message of Christ.

What is our role to be?
A) Be Good Citizens
The New Testament seems to indicate that Christians are to be good citizens of the community, nation, or kingdom of which they are a part. In Romans 13 Paul tells us that we are to subject ourselves to our authorities and give them the honor that they are due (including the confiscatory taxes they charge). Peter likewise exhorts us in 1 Peter 2 to honor the authorities and do good as a way of honoring God. Jesus himself in the first three gospels encourages submission to Caesar.

In America, we are in a unique position. The democratic republic did not exist in Jesus’ day. Christians then did not get to choose who would govern them. I believe that we are to engage in the political process and choose godly leaders.

B) The SBC should work to advance the gospel, using social programs to advance that goal if necessary.
I do not believe in big government. I do believe, as a political and religious conservative that individuals are to take personal responsibility for their conduct and well-being. It is not the government’s job to care for the needy in the community—it is the job of the church. The scriptures exhort us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and visit those in prison. I’ll admit this is a challenge that I don’t often feel up to. I am thankful that we have ministries that are designed to reach out to those who are in need and who are hurting and I confess that I often feel inadequate to meet those needs.

C) Be Advocates for Godliness in our Sphere of Influence.
Some may be wondering, “Does this include lobbying?" Absolutely! Since we have a say in what our government does and the laws it passes, we have a responsibility to advocate for Christ’s interests (as His ambassadors!). I hear some saying already “But you can’t legislate morality!” This is true and I agree. However, we can and should have laws that dictate and enforce civil order. The New Testament says that the government’s role is to punish the evil and reward the good. This ought to be our framework as we advocate for godliness. Murder, rape, theft, adultery, kidnapping, and the like are evil, and should be punished. Do we not also believe that homosexuality, polygamy, fornication, and drug and alcohol abuse are immoral behaviors? We can and should have laws that protect the institutions that we hold dear, such as the church and the family.

As Christians we believe that the Christian worldview is superior to all others. That is the nature of our faith—it is (rightly) exclusive. In a nation that will be ruled by men and women who have worldviews, we must choose the leaders with the worldviews that most closely align with ours, and encourage others to be sympathetic to our views. America will be ruled by our worldview or by another worldview. As I said before, we may be persecuted. If it comes to that during our lifetime then I will submit to it as the will of God, but we have a choice.

Let us not be found negligent or apathetic when the time comes to choose freedom or persecution. God can use a free people to spread the gospel—it has happened in the past and will happen in the future. The SBC ought to stand together to advocate for what we believe is right. God has given us the influence that we have, but when we cease to use it wisely, it will be taken from us and given to someone else.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Politics and the SBC pt. 1

Since its inception the SBC has dealt with politics, both in its own ranks as well as in the American and global political scene. Many have been quick to point to this as a striking flaw within the convention. Some have even said or implied that if we could rid the SBC of politics, we would be able to focus on the real issues.

I must confess that there is a certain appeal to the cries of those who advocate an end to the political strivings of the convention. In this series of posts I will discuss what I believe about politics and the SBC.

First, let us first look at a definition of politics and briefly sketch their role (if any) within the SBC and its churches. The word politic comes from the Greek politicas, which refers to civic matters (FYI, this word is not found in the NT). The root word is polis meaning city (this root appears in several variations in the NT). This word is also the subject of Aristotle’s 4th Century BC work Politics, which concerns itself with the proper “structure, organization, and administration of the state” (see politics). This is also the same root from which we get the word “polity” (i.e., how the church is governed).

Politics is also commonly used today to refer to those who are shrewd or even cunning or manipulative. This is what we often think of when someone is accused of “playing politics.”

So we have two strikingly different definitions of politics. I believe that both are important and will be discussed in this series of blog posts. The first definition is the one I will discuss second, and the second is the one I will discuss first.

Here’s the thesis :The Church in America must stop playing politics, but must not retreat from the political realm altogether.

First, we must stop playing politics.
Last month Jeremy Roberts posted about the political parties in the SBC. Recently, we’ve seen dueling confessions and seemingly endless arguments about a few issues that seem to keep coming up regularly. There is also the recurrent issue of the personal biases and attacks on and by prominent members of the current factions.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that debate should not go on, but I am saying that we should not allow it to become such a focal point that we are sidetracked from our mission as a church. Allow me to present some scripture that is relevant to the current issues at hand.

Paul exhorts believers to avoid foolish controversies.
2 Timothy 2:23-26 says:
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

This passage is particularly applicable to Christian leaders. He is specifically referring to the “man of God” one who serves as an ambassador for Christ. He exhorts us, not to avoid debates, but to pick our battles. We are not to engage in the fights that ultimately only hurt the body, but obviously we must be able to correct those who are teaching falsehoods or are leading people astray. Paul tells us the correct way to do that too: “with gentleness.” The goal is that those who are leading others astray might repent and become free “from the snare of the devil” (v.25-26).

We are also commanded to build up the Body of Christ
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 says:
“’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.’”
And vv.31-33 say:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”

Here Paul is discussing the issue of eating the meat that had been sacrificed to idols. The meat wasn’t the main issue. Paul wasn’t so much concerned about cheap steaks as he was with the consciences of the believers and the unity of the church. Some could eat the meat in clear conscience, yet others could not—to them it was sin. Therefore, Paul tells us not to seek our own good, but the good of others. If eating certain meats or drinking certain beverages, or engaging in certain amoral (neither inherently good nor bad) acts causes disunity or sin in the body of Christ (the church) then it shouldn’t be done! This to me is the strongest argument for abstinence from alcohol. It’s not about how alcoholic it is, it’s about our testimony (to both believers and unbelievers) and about if it honors God. Since I can honor God and build up the body of Christ without partaking of alcohol –that is what I will continue to do. I mention a specific example, but you can see that the issue of building up the body applies to all that we do. If blogging does not build up the body of Christ, then we must find something else to do with our time and energy. Something that pleases God. I do happen to believe that I can honor God and encourage believers through my blog, which is why I do it.

Finally, we must accomplish the mission we have been given. The goal is to make disciples for Christ. The goal is not to be teetotalers or wine connoisseurs; not to worship men or tear them down; our goal is to build up the body of Christ as we live godly lives and train others to do so.

Where does politics enter into that? My point is that we ought not play politics within the body, yet in my next post I will discuss my views on the church’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the political realm and how I believe we can continue to build up the body and further God’s kingdom.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Heroes of the Faith

Recently, while having lunch with friends I began discussing some questions I use when I interview people. I am not a reporter, but have been involved in several interviews and find that asking the right questions can be the key to getting good answers. When I was in college I had the opportunity to sit down one on one with a number of pastors and professors and found that I could glean some great pearls of wisdom from these individuals simply by asking the right questions.

During the aforementioned lunch I tossed out a few questions including:

If you could address America for 30 minutes on primetime tv what would you say?

Or another was

Who are some of your heroes?

The question that we discussed for the longest time was:

If you could have lunch with any historical or theological figure (excluding Jesus) who would you choose and why?

We played with variations on this, narrowing it to exclude biblical figures, and then narrowing it to SBC figures.

Who did we pick? We would love to meet apostles like Peter and John, or maybe even Thomas (whose doubts we can sometimes identify with). We would like to talk with people like George Washington, Dwight Moody, C.S. Lewis, Augustine, Martin Luther, or Spurgeon. In Baptist circles, how about people like William Carey, or even just SBC leaders like Criswell, Truett, even Adrian Rogers and others.

Some of the great leaders of the SBC are still alive and we can learn from them. I think that opportunities such as these are important. I had the opportunity last year to sit down and ask Paige Patterson a number of questions. Maybe sometime I'll get my notes from that conversation and give the insights I learned there.

What about you? Who are some of your heroes? Who would you like to meet and talk with?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Majors, Minors, and Inconsequentials

Lately the debates have intensified about the issues in and surrounding the Memphis Declaration and the Joshua Convergence. I myself have contributed to, and approved of these debates. I've seen a lot of agreement and even some persuasion come about as a result of these debates. However, I've also seen these debates used to revisit some of the same issues that have been debated ad nauseum. One might almost think that some people just like to argue.

In large measure the debates of this past week have been interesting and, at times, even productive. They have caused me to think. As I engaged in this sometimes dangerous practice (thinking), I wondered what we might accomplish if we ever were to shift our focus.

At the risk of sounding like a “can’t we all just get along” post, here’s what I’ve been thinking. This week Kevin Bussey has repeatedly asked “why must there always be a battle?” I submit that we live in a constant state of war whether we know it or not. The key is that the battle is NOT against one another, but against a real enemy. There are culture wars and battles of ideas going on constantly today. Ultimately the root ideologies are either from God or they are not. This may seem like an oversimplification, but it seems appropriate if the goal is to encourage us to look at the big picture.

I’ve recently been reading a book by Robert Greene entitled The 33 Strategies of War. It’s been an interesting read and it talks about historical warfare strategies that the author encourages readers to apply to everyday conflicts. He’s not a Christian and that comes across in the book, but this is not my point. One of the first strategies he discusses is recognizing the enemy. Once we know who is and is not the enemy then, and not before then, we can begin to wage an effective war.

Recently there have been quarrels over issues such as private prayer languages and alcohol. These are issues that need to be addressed for sure, but they are not and should not be the issue concerning whether or not we will band together. Make no mistake, we are in a fight.

Greene tells a the story from The Anabasis, of Xenophon and his band of Greeks who, after a series of events ended up deep in the Persian Empire and betrayed by the Persians. They quarreled among themselves for a while and some were killed by the Persians as a result. Once they realized that they were in a fight for their lives and their fellow Greeks were not the enemy, they managed to band together to flee back to Greece. Working together, many survived.

The point is that our fellow Christians are not the enemy. Those who hold to the principles of orthodoxy are on the same side as we are. The principles I refer to are often called the “Fundamentals of the Faith.” These basic principles include:
1) The verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible.
2) The deity of Christ (I think many of us would hold that the doctrine of the Trinity is a matter of orthodoxy.)
3) The Virgin Birth of Christ.
4) The Substitutionary Atonement (Christ, though He was man was sinless and did in fact die for our sins and was raised from the dead on the third day).
5) The imminent return of Christ (He is coming back, and although we don’t know when we are looking forward to it).

Most churches that agree with these are churches that we can work with. I would be even more comfortable (usually) working with churches who subscribe to the teachings of the Baptist Faith and Message. These are the doctrines that we hold to as Christians and as Baptist. Beyond this, we can only get closer. And don’t mistake me, I believe that while we are here on earth there will be disagreements. We cannot know everything about God or our faith in this life, but we strive together to understand our faith and to be better Christians.

One professor I know routinely instructs his classes that they must “major in the majors” and “minor in the minors.” Too often we find ourselves getting bogged down in the small things when we end up “majoring in the minors.” Once we come together and recognize the major issues then we can confront those as well. These are issues such as fulfilling the Great Commission and raising up a generation for Christ.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dueling Confessions

Yes friends, we have a new hot-button issue in the Baptist blogosphere. To be honest I'm not sure whether to be happy about it or not.

In the past two days I have read both the Memphis Declaration and the Joshua Convergence's Affirmation. While I wasn't blogging earlier this year when the Memphis meeting was held, I do know that the Joshua Convergence has set off quite a brouhaha in the blogosphere. I think I am beginning to understand why this is.

It seems to me that there is an escalating "discussion" that is being continued through these confessions. Or perhaps the confessions are being used as fuel for the fire by those who are spoiling for a fight. Is this the intent of or simply a reaction to these confessions? I would suggest that the latter is true -- this view being in keeping with my desire to believe the best about people. One cannot, however overlook the fact that, intentional or not, these debates are continuing.

As Baptists, we have a history of confessionalism. At times these confessions have served to unite us, at other times they have divided us. We've seen confessions such as the London Confessions (1644, 1646, 1689), the Philadelphia Confession (1742), the Sandy Creek Confession (1758),the New Hampshire Confession (1833), BFM (1925, 1963, 2000), and many others.

In recent years confessions have been something that we Baptists seem to have avoided for whatever reason. I personally believe that confessionalism can be a healthy thing. It can be good and healthy for us to articulate our beliefs. I read earlier today on Wade Burleson's blog some that have negative feelings toward the BFM 2000. While I can understand that some might not be completely satisfied with the BFM 2000, I don't believe that it was ever intended to satisfy everyone, simply to articulate the umbrella under which those who call ourselves "Southern Baptist" may gather. In my opinion the simplicity of the BFM is its beauty, and the 2000 version seems to have maintained a simplicity while addressing some of the critical issues of our time.

As I said before, I read both the Memphis Declaration and the statement of the Joshua Convergence as well. And while these two statements seem reasonable in and of themselves, I find them hardly sufficient to address the full range of issues that are swirling about today. I doubt that that was ever their intention. A confession simply articulates our views or beliefs, confessions do not have the power to change hearts on their own. They don’t even have to be comprehensive, but regardless, they will tell others a little bit about who we are and what we believe.

Let us all try our best to live our lives according to God’s word, but also recognize that we and our best views and efforts are tainted by sin—this is an obstacle that will never be overcome in this life. We are to honor God, study and obey his word, and once Christ comes again we will be finally sanctified (note: this is “final sanctification” as opposed to the sanctification that comes through salvation and progressively through righteous living).

As I said on Jeremy Roberts’s blog, I’ll take a “wait and see” approach to see how the signatories and adherents of these confessions live them out – then perhaps we can decide if they have lasting merits or not. Will we see that either of these confessions brings a recipe for success or unity to our convention? The proof, as they say, “is in the pudding.”

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Reality

I posted a comment on this topic on Marty Duren's blog last week and it got me thinking about these issues.

The internet is an amazing thing. It allows dialogue on a scale that has never been accomplished before. In fact, through the internet now everyone can have a say about anything--and quite often they do. All of us have seen the results of this new freedom. People get to express their thoughts, opinions, and feelings on a myriad of issues with or without their true identity being known.

The problem with this is that often too many hide behind the mask of anonymity (being anonymous) or pseudonymity (using a fake name) as they say things which may or may not be true or good. Kevin Bussey posted a great example of this in his discussion of the Frank Vance vs. Ligonier Ministries case.

In the years that I've been using the internet I've discovered an intriguing phenomenon. Whether they be bloggers, internet gamers, or anyone else--people often become who they really are, or wish they were, when they interact with others via the internet. Here's what I mean: If an introverted person has thoughts and opinions that they would not or could not share in real life, they can be heard and even become influential via the internet. Conversely, if a person seems quiet or non-confrontational in real life, they might take on an assertive or belligerent persona on the internet. I've seen many so-called "computer geeks" become many different things within the guise their internet persona. I believe that this can be a good thing or a bad thing, but it depends on the character of the individual.

The blogosphere is an excellent showcase for this principle. There are some who are the same in real life and on their blog--I try to be one of these people. There are others who say things on their blog that they would never dream of saying in real life--some of these things may be good ideas, but others should never be said anywhere.

As I've said before there is a responsibility that comes with the anonymity or pseudonymity that we have on the internet. We have a responsibility to speak (or write) words that uplift and build up the body of Christ. Sometimes these words may be criticisms, but they are never lies, never malicious rumors, never personal attacks. Paul gives good advice for sound thinking, and I would add, sound speech when he says: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8, ESV).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Southern Baptists in the News

At the moment things seem fairly quiet on the Southern Baptist Political front. Perhaps this is simply the calm on the surface that disguises the turmoil beneath, but I think everyone seems to be settling into the new year with a new president and some are still sizing one another up.

Thinking of this I decided that I wanted to know the public perception of Southern Baptists in the news. My question is this: can good come from Baptists being in the news or is negative controversy all that gets reported?

A brief Nexis search surprised me. I searched the term "Southern Baptist" throughout the major news outlets in the last six months. I found that the bulk of the reporting centered around the convention (naturally). However, I was surprised by the positive tone of many of the articles. I did also note that there seems to be a lack of depth to a number of the articles as well, this I attribute to the fact that some of these articles are written by people who don't understand the nature of the Christian faith experientially.

I expected to find that the major news outlets mirrored the local baptist news entities in that they captured a lot of dissention and controversy. It seems, however, that they just aren't interested in our squabbles. Generally, they could care less about Paige Patterson, Wade Burleson, and our inter-denominational politics; although the do enjoy gaping at our stances on alcohol, abstinence, and public education.

So, are we better off quietly "doing our thing" and ministering without the attention of the news? Does the attention of the media help advance our cause? Or does it simply hinder us? Or there's the related question of "are we doing anything newsworthy?" Think about this--the early church caused such a stir that they were accused of turning the world upside down! (Acts 17:6 ESV)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Was the Pope Wrong?

Today I am reading several headlines about the Pope's recent remarks. It seems that he angered some muslims. Headlines might well read: "Muslims claim their religion is not one of violence, threaten to kill the Pope." Ok, so that's not a real headline, but it seems to be what is going on. Anybody else recognize the blatant contradition?
First off, let me say that I am a Southern Baptist, not a Catholic. I do not believe that the Pope speaks for God, but that doesn't mean that I think he's always wrong. On issues of faith and morality it can be important for all who call themselves Christians (including Catholics) to stand together to advocate for what is right. In doctrinal issues, we often disagree.
Recently Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech in which he read a 14th Century text written by a Byzantine Emperor. It charged that the teachings of Muhammed were "evil and inhuman" and that its followers used the sword to spread their religion. Many Muslims found the Pope's remarks insulting and offensive. They claim that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the Pope should die for his remarks. Obviously he was WAY off base. If you think Islam is a religion of peace, you should ask Ergun Caner or his brother Emir. So there you have it, and now perhaps my life is in jeopardy. Don't dis the peaceful religion of Islam or yours could be too!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Oh My Gado!

Ok, I just had to say it! (I know I've lost some of my readers now forever, but perhaps they weren't really interested in what I had to say anyway. I hope you'll stick around to see what I do next.)
Fellow Liberty grad Samkon Gado is moving to Texas. He was just traded from the Green Bay Packers to the Houston Texans on wednesday. As a native Mississippian living in Texas, I had no real ties to the Cowboys anyway, so I'll probably be cheering for Houston while Gado's there.

Despite the (questionable?) catch phrase that's become associated with him, I can personally vouch for the genuineness of Sam's faith. He is truly a man of God and I have to give him all the more respect because of that.

So Sam, Have a great Season in Houston!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dr. Page visits SWBTS

First off let me say that I'm not a reporter. Sometime I'll write a post about the good or ills of the 24hour news cycle, but that's for another day.

Today was an important day for SWBTS. I, being merely an uninformed observer probably did not grasp the full import of today's events, but I shall recount to you what I saw.

I had the privilege of hearing our SBC President, Dr. Frank Page today. You too can hear his message by visiting the SWBTS website. Dr. Page spoke on what he claimed to be "his favorite verse" (noting that he makes the claim of every verse or passage he preaches): John 10:10. He warned Christians against underestimating our enemy (Satan). He said that Satan has stolen the church's power, effectiveness, and most importantly our unity.
Dr. Page exhorts Southern Baptists to continue to fight for inerrancy, but also to fight, with the same vigor, for relevancy. He stressed the need for the church to be relevant to today's culture, warning that "the early church was met with persecution, but the modern church is met with a yawn."

He exhorts Christians to find strength in the Holy Spirit to continue this fight and will guide us as we do so.
I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with Dr. Page himself. He seems to have a heart to unify the SBC and to truly honor God.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Unwanted Wedding Gifts

And now for something different...
I've been married for a brief six weeks and in that time my wife and I have managed to settle into our little home, thanks in part to those who so kindly gave us a myriad of wedding gifts. But, as every one of the married people reading this knows, while many gifts we receive are great and useful, there are also those that make us scratch our heads in puzzlement.

My wife and I now have a small pile of gifts that we did not ask for and don't quite know where to return. I'll not name these gifts, as one of the givers might chance upon my blog and take offence (you DID get a thank you note even though I didn't like your gift.)

I've heard some interesting stories about what people have done with their unwanted wedding gifts. I've heard of them being re-gifted (as some of mine obviously were), or becoming part of a garden, or even being used as "perennial gifts" at Christmas parties. So what kind of things do people do with their unwanted wedding gifts? I'm curious (and I know there are stories out there).

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Once it was one of the Seven Deadly Sins but now it's everywhere but nobody talks about it (except to say that they don't talk about it).

Perhaps it's time to renew not only our condemnation of it, but also our help for those who suffer from gluttony. So to start, let's make sure we all know what this word means (let's face it; it's been ignored so long in Baptist circles that many have forgotten what it means). defines gluttony as "excessive eating." It seems that with the rise of obesity in America we should open our eyes. If this is an issue with which people struggle, the Church should be on the front lines of the fight.

Now to establish my own credibility here I'll say (as my friends may be tired of hearing me say) that in order to join the Air Force I had to lose 40 pounds last year. I did that by making some hard decisions and being disciplined about my eating and exercise.

Gluttony is a sin. If we've ever said after a meal "I shouldn't have eaten that" or "I shouldn't have eaten all of that" then we're guilty. James 4:17 (NASB)says "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." The right thing is "stop eating so much" or "don't eat certain things." Hey if it was easy we wouldn't have so many fat people.
(Yeah I said Fat).

If our bodies are the Lord's Temple, what are we saying about our Lord?
Food for thought:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Cor 4:19-20 NASB

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Problem of Postmodernism in Apologetics

Today I was involved in a discussion regarding apologetics, particularly the task of contending against a postmodern viewpoint. The discussion revolved mainly around the difficulty of pinning down a postmodern to a single set of beliefs.

If you ask any number of so called "experts" for a definition of postmodernism, you will likely get as many different answers as respondants. This in itself seems to be indicative of the postmodern worldview -- it seems tailor-made by an individual to fit his or her own felt needs.

In such a worldview, truth(s) must be "relevant" (or meaningful) to the hearer in order to be accepted as true (i.e. "if you say the moon is made of cheese, the statement may in fact be true, but I do not have to accept it as truth because it has no relevance to my own life"). The converse seems to be true also; a claim may be false, but I may accept it because it has particular meaning to me, or I may affirm you're right to believe it even if I do not. Herein lies the difficulty of establishing truth with a postmodernist.

During today's discussion Aristotle's three forms of rhetoric were mentioned:
1)Logos is the appeal to reason, this is what we typically thing of when we think of debates: one offers reasons and evidence to persuade others.
2)Ethos is an appeal based upon the character of the speaker. This argument seems to have great potential in speaking to those who will not be swayed by the logical arguments.
3)Pathos is an appeal to the emotions of the audience. This form certainly has its merits, but to me it seems somewhat empty. I can be pursuasive and passionate, and can appeal to your emotions, but there must be more if my audience is to "stay convinced."

In light of the onset and spread of the postmodern worldview, what options should we pursue as we contend for the faith?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Slumbering Giant -or- Seeking Expectancy

I went to Faith Night at the Texas Rangers game tonight. According to commentators there were over 40,000 in attendence. I was impressed. I'm terrible at guessing how many people are in a crowd. So I could not tell you just how many people attended the pre-game MercyMe concert.

The concert was great. It's a pity that many know MercyMe just as the band who sings "I Can Only Imagine." They're quite talented. There were several thousand in attendence at the concert. My wife and I were sitting on the hillside among the masses and I began to muse as we listened to the music.

I would assume that most of the attendees at the MercyMe concert were believers. With so many believers (mainly from the DFW area) gathered in one place I could not help but ask what we are accomplishing for the Kingdom of God. I don't mean that gathering at the concert to enjoy music and worship together was in any way wrong. What I do mean to say is that I believe we are somewhat complacent as a church.

The book of Acts records a fantastic revival taking place at pentecost. Acts 2 gives details of what happened when the Holy Spirit moved upon a few hundred believers (the previous chapter recounts that there were 120 disciples present for the election of Matthias as the replacement for Judas.

Now setting aside the issues of charismata and cessationism (and the like), I feel that one may rightly ask why about 15M Southern Baptists in over 40,000 churches are not shaking the world for Christ(Frank Mead, Handbook of Denominations 11th Ed., 2001). To be honest I don't expect an answer. No one of us can assume responsibility for the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of our denomination in reaching the world-- we are responsible to God for ourselves and those that we lead.

Sitting amid thousands of my fellow believers I recognize that most of them genuinely do love the Lord and desire to serve him. Perhaps many are in fact serving. Suddenly the moment turns to introspection. I realize that I am not responsible to God for the effectiveness of the other concert attendees, but I am accountable for how faithfully (or unfaithfully) I obey the word of God.

Why blog about this? None of us needs another guilt trip or accusation that we are not doing enough for God. We do not need for me to state the obvious simply for the purpose of filling space on another webpage. The thing is this: God has worked in powerful ways during different times in history. We call these movements of God "Revival." It begins when God moves in the hearts of a few individuals. During times when the church had grown complacent or had been marginalized, God selected a few available vessels and poured his spirit out upon them, using them in a very powerful way.

There are many believers, or perhaps "church people" is a better term, who go about their daily lives in a state of complacency. Maybe it isn't that they mean to be complacent, but they have lost a sense of anticipation that God wants to do something spectacular around, in, or perhaps through them. My exhortation is for us to pray and encourage one another toward that end.

Perhaps the words of William Carey convey the message better than my own could: "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." My closing thought is this: I think that too often my expectations and attempts are often smaller than God is capable of. The greater my expectancations are of God (and thus my dependence upon Him), the greater the my works will be for His kingdom.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Setting the Tone

I've said already that I'm new to the blog scene. I've also expressed a hope that at some point people will read what I have to say (hopefully because it will be worth your time).

As I begin I believe it is appropriate for me to "lay my cards out." Readers of my new blog might want to know who I am and what I stand for, and the better question is why should you read my blog? The last question will hopefully answered as I continue to post and to interact with the issues of our day.

First, I am Matt Knight -- this is my blog. Now that that's clear, (because you can read it on the "about me" portion) I want to let you know a little about where the words you're reading are coming from. I've been a believer since I was a boy, growing up in a Southern Baptist church in Clinton, Mississippi (that would be Morrison Heights Baptist Church). I am 23 years old, a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Currently, I'm a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I would consider myself and conservative among conservatives. I believe there is a lot to be learned from the traditions of the Baptist Church (and no I'm not a landmarkist). Still, as part of a new and young generation I think that we must continue to change to survive and be effective.

So now I'm into my second "card." What am I all about? As a Christian, I hold firmly to the message of the Cross. When I speak of change, I never mean that we should change the message (i.e. the Gospel), although we surely can (and sometimes need to) change the way we present or live the message.

As a Chaplain Candidate I have a keen interest in issues concerning the military and the government. I am interested in the changes that are taking place both in the military and in NAMB, as they will directly impact me and the ways in which I will serve in a military context as a Southern Baptist Chaplain.

I am a husband -- I've been married for five weeks and am learning about what it means to be a husband, and what it means to be a picture of Christ and the church in my marriage. That's a challenge, but one that I am willing to accept.

I've not been involved much in Baptist politics, but I know I'm in for a heavy dose of it since I've chosen to inject myself into this realm. It is important to have the exchange of fresh ideas, and the blogosphere is fluid and a place for new ideas that will have a real impact on the real world, Lord willing.

This is who I am, and I hope that I've set the tone for a readable and meaningful blog.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Welcome to the E-Jungle

So why am I getting a blog? For some time now I've heard about how the "blogosphere" is where the new exchange of ideas is taking place. Recently I've come to realize that this is the case more so than ever.

I once thought that blogs were for people who had nobody in their daily life who would listen to them. That may have been so in the past, but now that is not (entirely) the case. I've lately begun to see that a number of the new ideas and perhaps future trends may come from here--the so-called "blogosphere."

So here I am, dipping my toe into the waters of the blog world. Hopefully I'll say something worth reading, and who knows maybe someday someone will read my blog and agree.