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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Random Stuff for the Week of 9/30-10/6

* Scott Slayton (Scattered and Covered) has shared why he should be the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm already talking it up over here. Remember that name . . . * Dr. Al Mohler has linked a great article by Charles Spurgeon called "Advanced Thinkers". The descriptions and implications which follow of such thinkers speak saliently to the issues the contemporary church is facing today. A must read. * Phil Johnson (Pyromaniac), on his blogspotting patrol, mentions that I mentioned him mentioning me mentioning his bookmarks, and I now I am . . . well you know. And oh, he tagged my posts on "theological triage" as well, of which has received a great deal of response. * As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a new facet of P&P is the welcoming of guest bloggers. Tenatively, I would like to mention them to you and what they will most likely be addressing their posts. More bio sketch and information about them to follow as their blogging presumes. K.J. Pugh will be writing on Puritans and sanctification (in particular writings of John Owen); David Kizziah will be writing literature reviews and how Christians can benefit from a broad-scale reading; Zach Mabry will be writing on aspects of Christian community (body life) and how true fellowship affects the kingdom of God and the world around us; J. Caleb Clanton will be writing on philosophy and political theory with special emphasis on the role of Christians in the public square (excerpts from his doctoral dissertation presented at Vanderbilt University); and finally Dan Canales, who will be writing on Christian/non-Christian incongruencies, relations, dialogue, etc. I am excited about what these guys will be bring to the table and the interaction/discussion to follow. Stay tuned. * Desiring God has recently made available for purchase John Piper's preaching of Romans 1-12 in MP3 format. I think Piper has been preaching through Romans since I underwent puberty. The set consists of 6 discs which contain 183 messages! (I did the math: 183 messages at 30 minutes a message = 92 hours worth of Romans!!!) If you are looking for a quick way to fill your iPOD, then here's a good start. Sale price: $85. >> Finally, starting this week in this "Random Stuff" post and continuing in weeks forthcoming P&P will be acclaiming The Blog of the Week. The purpose of this is to acquaint some of you who are not well traveled in the blogosphere to some great blogs in hopes that you would read them and recommend them to others. Atop the blogroll next to the "5 Hottest Posts" will be the link to the blog. **** This Week's Pick **** Reformation 21 Reformation 21 is the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and includes posts by great evangelical leaders like Phillip Ryken, Justin Taylor, Ligon Duncan III, Derek Thomas, and Rick Phillips. A great blend of strong evangelical thinking. I think that will do it for this week! Please keep Wes and our the new believers in your prayers. Much thanks. - t.n.b.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"I Don't Give A Damn About Poverty."*

Now let me use this phrase to describe the difference between fundamentalism and liberalism. Fundamentalist response: "What? Is that a cuss word? I can't believe that you would use profanity in your language. I am so disappointed with you Timmy. I don't think that I can read your blog anymore if you are going to use words like that. You are a hypocrite, and well, I pray that you will get right with God." Liberal response: "What? You don't care about the poor and starving children? That's just like you conservatives. All you care about is rich, wealthy, and white people in your church. I can't believe that you can overlook the suffering and oppression around the world and throw a blind eye. I don't think I can read your blog anymore if you are going to be so fundamental. You are a hypocrite, and it is about time that you 'do it unto the least of these.'" Here are two completely different takes on one simple statement. One focused on a cuss word, the other poverty, and this is precisely because of one's predisposition and/or pretense. Should Christians cuss? No. But why are we so quick to correct a Christian of cussing when other "sins of the tongue" such as gossip, murmuring, and slander abound among most of us? Should we care about world hunger and poverty? Absolutely. But the gospel has more than simply social connotation. You can feed a stomach and still see them go to hell. The point I am trying to make is what Mohler mentioned in theological triage, that fundamentalists want to make third-level issues primary (cussing), and liberals ignore first-level issues altogether (salvation by justification by faith). It appears that conservatives have emphasized the tithing of mint, dill, and cumin and neglect the "weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness" (Matthew 23:23). Yet Jesus in this text, says that "these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others" (vs. 24). So we should take care of third-level issues but never neglect first-level issues as primary and preeminent in our minds. And liberals who find liberality in cussing (or other matters) need to understand that we must serve God with "pure heart, sincere faith, and a clear conscience" (1 Timothy 1:5). And to cause a brother to stumble in third-level matters is nothing we should take lightly. Now I know that the theological triage was primarily doctrinal in distinctions, but I think that the triage can also apply to orthopraxy. The only difference is that doctrines don't change but practices can (for example, card playing, dancing, going to movies, etc.). I don't want to complicate the matter, but only explain that there are extreme positions from both the fundamental (legalism) and liberal (license) positions, and triage thinking serves us well for maturity and discernment on relevant matters of the day.

Flickr: Upward Soccer Series

Upward Soccer, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

Upward Soccer is a sports program for kids which emphasizes good sportsmanship and a winning attitude. Our church began the fall program this past Saturday, and I was giving devotions at half-time. I happened to have my camera with me and decided to take a few pictures. In the week or so, I will be posting some of the images I took this past Saturday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Meth, Money, and a BIG FAT Mess

Many of you remember the story of Ashley Smith, the hostage turned hero/instant therapist who helped turn over Brian Nichols who had been on a murder-spree. She has recently come out with a new book. I thought I'd show it with the CBD caption: Unlikely Angel - Ashley Smith Miraculously persuading the alleged Atlanta Courthouse killer to release her by reading passages of The Purpose-Driven Life, Ashley Smith made worldwide headlines - even though the widowed young mother was living a quiet life in the suburbs. Now read the little-known details of her traumatic ordeal, as she explains how her faith helped her survive - and to love her enemy! 288 pages, hardcover from Zondervan. Well, Smith has recently came out sharing that it was not necessarily The Purpose-Driven Life that "miraculously" delivered up Nichols, but a handy little antidote called crystal methamphetamine. Yep. That's right - crystal meth. I guess the story was too good to be true. Maybe it would have been better to call it The Meth-Driven Life. I don't mean to sound harsh, but it appears that Zondervan has been aware of the drug issues (included in the book) but decided to prop her up as a hero (recall "the widowed young mother living a quiet life in the suburbs"). To be fair, from what it sounds, she has been drug-free for some time, and I think that is great; but the whole premise of this book and her testimony was giving credit to her faith and The Purpose-Driven Life, neither of which appears to have been what was the decisive thing that turned Nichols in. Now, she may have witnessed to this man and told him about Jesus and all, but then you say, "Oh, well, I don't have a joint, but I have some ice." That reminds me of a beggar who asked Peter for money. His reply was, "Silver and gold I do not have, but in the name of Jesus, I say, 'Rise and walk.'" (my paraphrase). Now is there a difference here between Smith and Peter? I think so. Now Warren has got his additional millions in book sales because of this mess, and she reportedly has already made thousands. It sounds like a pretty good drug deal to me - and Zondervan is cashing in as well. And oh, Smith did not get arrested for giving him drugs either. I guess she deserves a little leniency. Finally, what makes this more frustrating for me is her describing an instance where a drug-induced psychosis caused her to let go of the steering wheel and heard a voice telling her "Let go and let God." Boy, have I heard that one before. Do you think that was the drugs speaking to her. I don't think it was God. The whole "Let go and let God" is nothing more than modern spirituality without biblical moorings, a New Age ambiguity and abstraction that carries nothing but mystical connotation. Now I know that some may think that I should just let this go and praise God for the change and result of what has taken place, but I can't. I'm sorry. This is too ethically compromising to my conscience and troubling to the testimony of Christ. If she has really changed and God has worked in her life, then the best thing she could do is walk away from the limelight and be truthful about the matter and refuse to be a celebrity about it. And Zondervan needs to consider the implications of publishing not only the book, but the ethic behind the book. To read the Associated Press article by Greg Bluestein, click here. To read the NY Times article by Edward Wyatt, click here.

RP: Packer Rejects Universalism and Inclusivism

RP is short for Religious Pluralism - a category of posts at P&P In CT's (Christianity Today) recent issue (October 2005), J.I. Packer wrote an article called "Salvation Sans Jesus" (88). The article is written concerning the document called "The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration" and in particular the section on "Affirmation and Denials." Number four in this section, it says, "The Bible offers no hope that sincere worshipers of other religions will be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ." Now some of you may be thinking, "Duh. Is this obvious conclusion what makes the news by great Christians scholars?" Well, if you are aware of the landscape of religious pluralism, bombs have been dropped by pluralists, inclusivists, and universalists on the matter that the Bible says that salvation comes only and uniquely in Jesus Christ through explicit saving faith. You would be surprised at the number of theologians (and conservative at that) who have exercised themselves in theological gymnastics to somehow make other ways possible for people to be saved. Sadly enough, even prominent theologians like Millard Erickson have faltered and failed in remaining faithful and consistent regarding the aforementioned quote. To have Packer make this article is HUGE, for those seeking any opportunity to discredit exclusivists/particularlists/restrictivists (all the same thing) will jump on anyone who gives any tendency or uncertainty on this matter (take John Stott for example). This short article is a clarion call to remain true to Scripture solely and refuse to cater to the culture or correctness of the day. Packer calls universalism and inclusivism arightly, calling them "speculations" and emphatically describes them as "judged failures." Universalism (chiefly promoted by Neal Punt) is the belief that eventually God will bring everyone to "share in the inheritance of Christ" through effective post-mortem evangelism of unbelievers on earth. Inclusivism (chiefly promoted recently by Clark Pinnock and John Sanders) says that other religions can be vehicles of salvation for people who never hear of Jesus Christ, but "finally" are included because of sincerity and positive responsivity to general revelation. Of course, these definitions are not really adequate, but they give you a glimpse of what they are about. In the future, I will be explaining each position specifically. In conclusion, Packer says, "The New Testament only speaks of penitents being saved through knowing about, and coming to trust, the crucified and risen Lord" (emphasis mine). Neither Jesus nor the Apostles were bluffing when they called sinners to repent and turn to Christ in faith. And neither should we. In stead of a bluff, we simply need to stick to the stuff.

News: ID On Trial in Harrisburg, PA

I know that I am a little late on writing about this (the federal case started Monday), but I thought it was important to mention it (either for emphasis for those who have heard or for information for those who haven't). Intelligent Design (ID) has, in recent months, received considerable news coverage, and most of it has been an attempt to either scoff or denounce it by ideologs who have little knowledge thereof. If you would like to stay abreast on the issue, let me encourage you to read often the blog by William Dembski called Uncommon Descent. Dembski is a professor at Southern and has written many books on ID which are the topic of much discussion. It may very well be that ID be the chief culture battle in worldviews in the immediate years to come (and in the latter future). Aside from medical ethics (such as cloning, stem-cell research, abortion, etc.), this may be a defining moment for science and religion. I think it is. The facts are out there, and ID is only asking that students and scientists alike consider the theory and evaluate it without presuppositional lenses or ideological slants. This will be hard for many, as we have seen in Pennsylvania, and you can be sure that the mainstream will be painting ID in the poorest light. Therefore, the real battle for worldviews will not take place on the airwaves but in the hallways at school, in the breakroom at work, in the marketplace downtown. And if Christians become informed and engaged in this important issue of human origin, I think that many who have been duped into believing evolution will be challenged to think otherwise. For more research, you might want to check out these sites: William Dembski Access Research Network (ARN) ID in the News ID the Future Telic Thoughts Wittingshire's Links and Info AP Article of PA case

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Examples of Theological Triage in Action

Upon thinking about today's post, I thought I would provide some recent examples of first, second, and third level issues across the blogosphere in recent weeks. First-level Issue: Tony Campolo on Katrina Tony Campolo, well-known author and public speaker, has written an article called "Katrina: Not God's Wrath--or His Will." In it, Campolo denies some of the essential qualities (attributes of God), chiefly God's omnipotence (all-powerful). As has been commented by other bloggers, Campolo's comments are the practical outworking of a theological framework called Open Theism in which all the essential attributes (non-communicable) are reformulated or removed while only God's love remains. Reinventing God is not petty matter, and the Christian community should rise up to denounce this article and call Campolo what he is - a heretic. In this day and age, it is important that we call a spade a spade and quit the "perhaps" and "maybe" jargon. Some have done that already. Here are a few: Tim Ellsworth Tim Challies (notice I had the Tim's first) A.B. Caneday Matthew Hall Eric Schumacher Brett (Semper Reformanda) Tony (For His Glory) Jason Robertson Second-level Issue: BBC Elders Proposal on Baptism As many of you know, the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minneapolis, MN) proposed a change in the church's view of baptism and acceptance of church members. As mentioned earlier, the meaning and mode of baptism has divided authentic Christians (i.e. congregations, denominations, organizations, etc.) but nonetheless is fully orthodox in the grounds of fundamental Christianity. To download the 85 page paper presented by the BBC elders, click here. To read John Piper's explanation, click here. And to read some other takes on this matter, check out the following: Justin Taylor Jolly Blogger Alex Forrest Shaper Iron Tim Bayly Mark Dever (audio address to SBTS 2002) Phillip Ryken (@ Reformation 21) Third-level Issue: SBTS and Stance on Alcohol A couple of weeks ago here at Southern, Dr. Al Mohler and Dr. Russell Moore held a forum on alcohol which has produced some debate on the blogosphere. The issue of Christians and social drinking is probably one of the most talked about issues, and one which some Christians have made it a dividing line (both on first-level and second-level issues). To listen to the audio from the forum, click here (right click and "save as"). For a Baptist Press article, click here. To check up on the debate on the around the sphere, check out the following: Steve McCoy Michael Spencer Joe Thorn James Thompson Ryan Debarr Paradigms Lost Sweet Tea & Theology Alright. I think that's enough research on these issues. But I did all this to make a point: there is a number of issues which receive considerable attention - some which are vitally important, others which simply are "hot-button" issues, albeit socially implied or culturally sensitive. Should we address all these issues? Absolutely! But given the brevity of life and urgency of the day, theological triage is a must if we are going to make headway in our world today. Much is at stake, and we should be Biblical, precise, clear, consistent, and comprehensive to the best of our ability in dealing with these issues. While we should not argue for the sake of arguing, but if we just throw in the towel and pretend that these don't matter, I suggest that there will be a greater judgment for knowing what to do and not doing it.

Mohler's Call for Theological Triage

A couple of things sparked my interest in writing this post. First, there is the recent discussion over the band Switchfoot and other music that is hotly disputed among Christians. Secondly, there is the continuing assault on the core tenets of the Christian faith (mostly from within I might add). Thirdly, there was a string of posts at Pyromaniac (one excellent one by John MacArthur) which calls for a renewal of emphasis on the fundamental articles of the Christian faith. In the course of dialogue, discussion, and debate, there will be many issues that will arise, and we must be careful as to which issue we choose to address, how we address it, and when we address it. To this concern, I am reminded of the first lecture in Dr. Moore's Systematic Theology class when I first heard of Dr. Mohler's idea of "theological triage." Here's a brief explanation: Taking the illustration of the Emergency Room, Mohler describes how doctors need to make intelligent and prudent decisions based on the importance and urgency of the patients in the room. For example, someone with a broken finger must take deference to someone who has a gun-shot wound to the head. Obviously, attention and care is given immediately to the person with the gun-shot wound rather than the person with the broken finger. This idea of "triage" as Mohler shares, comes from the French word trier which means "to sort." Therefore, in "theological triage" there must be some strategizing or "sorting" of issues to determine what he we should die on and what hills to avoid. It is not that all matters need addressing or that all issues concerning Christianity is important. Rather, it is, as Mohler says, that certain issues are to be given "highest priority in terms of our contemporary context." This prioritizing is structured in three different levels. The first-level theological issues are the non-negotiables, the "fundamental articles of faith" as MacArthur puts it, which are the essence of Christianity. To fudge or nudge on these issues is to deny the Christian faith and be anathemized (accursed), or to be wrong on these issues is revelatory on whether or not you are "of Christ" or "not of his sheep." Examples of first-level issues are the incarnation of Christ, deity of Christ, full humanity of Christ, the Trinity, the authority of Scripture, and justification by faith. The second-level theological issues are those which Christians can disagree on, but such disagreement produces boundaries and differences which determine whether or not you fellowship with them. Here, you find the differences in denominations and congregations. This happens within the Christian community, although the community is fragmented over these issues. Examples of second-level issues would be women serving as pastors, church government, and the meaning and mode of baptism. Finally, the third-level theological issues are matters in which Christians disagree but have relatively little consequence. You can have differences and still maintain close fellowship with the person with whom you disagree. The third-level is analogous to that of a scraped knee while the first-level would be the gun-shot wound. Some examples of third-level matters are views of eschatology (end times), social drinking, interpretation of certain difficult texts, or others like the KJV debate. I think it is justifiable to say that we are in days of "theological trauma" in America, and it is imperative that we have this triage set up in our minds if we are going to address the assaults and "once and for all contend for the faith." I am sure that we will find ourselves addressing issues on all levels, but let us be clear on this matter: when we differ, let it be second or third level matters. And if one errs on first-level issues, then it is the responsibility of a confessional Christian community to rise up and correct such a professor with the truth in love. It is tempting to pick on petty issues and make a mountain out of a molehill, and if don't be careful, this is what we will be known for. Mohler makes a very succinct conclusion about the difference between liberalism and fundamentalism along these lines: "If the relative urgency of these truths is not taken into account, the debate can quickly become unhelpful. The error of theological liberalism is evident in a basic disrespect for biblical authority and the church's treasury of truth. The mark of true liberalism is the refusal to admit that first-order theological issues even exist. Liberals treat first-order doctrines as if they were merely third-order in importance, and doctrinal ambiguity is the inevitable result. Fundamentalism, on the other hand, tends towards the opposite error. The misjudgment of true fundamentalism is the belief that all disagreements concern first-order doctrines. Thus, third-order issues are raised to a first-order importance, and Christians are wrongly and harmfully divided." I think Mohler nailed it here. We have two ditches to avoid, and hopefully this theological triage will give us greater discernment and sounder decision-making when it comes to when and how we address certain theological issues. You may differ with me on Switchfoot or the rapture, but these issues are third-level matters. Yet we must not differ on the person and work of Jesus Christ, His Word, the Trinity, and justification by faith. There are great challenges before us, and even greater ones to come. What must arise from the moral fog is a clarion voice and a sound message, one of which MacArthur says: Nothing is more desperately needed in the church right now than a new movement to reemphasize the fundamental articles of the faith. Without such a movement to restore true biblical discernment, the true church is in serious trouble. If the current hunger for ecumenical compromise gains a foothold within evangelicalism, it will result in an unmitigated spiritual disaster. Reckless faith will virtually have free reign in the church. And far from strengthening the church's witness to an unbelieving world, it will spell the end of any clarion voice of truth. May God grant us grace and truth as well protect the treasure which has been deposited to us and join the ranks of our brothers who have gone before in creed, in conduct, and in great cost to give us the glorious heritage of this faith that has been handed down to us. May generations to come benefit because of the skilled workmen and humble stewards of the "mysteries of God."

Monday, September 26, 2005

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad's 57th birthday. During this past year, my dad has been through a series of painful health issues, and God has been gracious to our family. But especially this year, my father has modeled for me the life of humility, selflessness, and longsuffering. I yet to ever hear an excuse or whine from my father, who has more than sufficient enough reason to do so. Aside from this, to call him father would be incomplete. He is my best friend, a true listener, and a great encourager. From the days of coaching me in t-ball to affirming me after a sermon, my dad has be constant, faithful, and genuine in all his dealing with me as a son. He's not a perfect father, but perfect for me. May the Lord continue to give you health and good days ahead or the heritage of the faith and legacy of faithfulness. Happy Birthday Dad!

>> Urgent Request for Prayer <<

Yesterday, I received this email from a good friend of mine serving in a closed country requesting specific prayer. I ask for his permission to share this with you, and he was all about it. Here is the email (emphasis mine): Dear Partners, I would like to request special prayer for some friends of mine during the month of October. Though the dates do not coincide exactly, this is the month of Ramadan. In our recent updates you have seen us mention the training of about fifteen former Muslims in our country of service. Of these we have about four that are really faithful. These guys are excited about what Jesus has done for them, and are sharing with others. One of them I mentioned to you has lost his job. Now his family is putting pressure on him. In the words of my friend, "They hate me now." Another has been threatened with force if he doesn't properly observe the month of Ramadan. This month brings difficulties for converts because they don't go through all the outside practices (such as fasting and going to the Mosque for prayer). These men are both heroes to me, and friends. I see in them the joy of the Lord. They seem delighted to go and share even at cost. I praise the Lord for that. If we really understand the gospel, then such is the appropriate response. We are blessed even to be counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. My request is that you would pray for them to be filled more and more with the Spirit of God. When the enemy wants to do his worst God often delights in showing the greatness of His power. May this area of the world never be the same. May Jesus Christ be famous because of these things. And may their witness be more intense now than ever before. Amazingly, two of the four have only been believers for about four months. You can also pray for me. Their is an Muslim cleric in one area who is widely respected because of his strong teaching. He is a powerful man in the community. Some of the believers close to his area are becoming timid. That makes my job really easy, at least in knowing what to do. I have to go and practice what I am telling these guys to do. It is a very remote area, and it will take several days in order to go and come. Pray not only that I would be able to work it out with my schedule, but also that the first time I go down there I would be able to locate this man and share with him. Pray for my language, and that he would be saved. Most of all pray that the fearful believers there would be encouraged. Thank you so much. Only eternity will reveal the importance of your prayers. Wes This dear brother has been laboring in a militant Islamic culture, one of which many believers have been beaten, imprisoned, and killed throughout the years. In recent years, many Muslims have been gloriously converted to Christ, and these new converts and joining their train. For the month of October, I am asking you to pray for Wes and these new believers every day (during Ramadan). While we do not experience their persecution, we can join them in their prayers that their kinsmen would be saved. Here are some verses that come to my mind on behalf of these brothers: (For the new believers) "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have." Philippians 1:27-30 (For Wes) "And pray also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I might declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." Ephesians 6:19-20 May God use Wes to bring salvation to this Muslim cleric. May these new converts be emboldened by the superior pleasures of God. May their joy in the Holy Spirit be their strength in the midst of much opposition. And may Jesus be famous among these peoples!!!

Crowder @ Southeast

David Crowder, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

Of course, this is one of the big video screens and not a live shot. We were singing, "Here Is Our King."

From the Nose-Bleed Section

. . . and we thought we would be near the front

I Did Not Get the Memo . . .

Ummm, last night Dusti, Dan, and I went to Southeast to listen to Shane & Shane and David Crowder, and we were told that the deal started at 7:00 and the doors were to open at 5:30. We were like, "We're not die-hards, so we will leave a little after 5:30." So we got there around 6:00 p.m. and it just so happened that 10,000 people had already beat us there. I was thinking, "If we get there early enough, then we could get some good seats and take some decent photos." Well, the concert did not start at 7:00 and Shane & Shane was not even there. They are touring with Crowder, but this was the "pre-release" concert, so it was just Crowder. We were so disappointed. To add to our frustration, the Crowder was well into their playing, and the only seats left were in the nose-bleed section (on the 5th floor, 2nd balcony) on the extreme left side of the auditorium. So we sat and just laughed at ourselves. And I apologized to Dan and Dusti that I didn't get the memo that Shane & Shane was not going to be there. So to appease our frustration, we left early to beat the traffic and scoured Louisville to find a Dairy Queen. I happily licked a chocolate dipped cone while Dusti and Dan enjoyed blizzards. We had fun nonetheless. Crowder was great (don't get me wrong), but we were really hoping to hear Shane & Shane. Maybe next time.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

More Indian and Ethnic Life . . .

a girl in a small village......., originally uploaded by Sanzen.

Sanzen from New Dehli, India has a beautiful set of portraits as well as ethnic life. When I discover other photojournalists and great photos of different cultures, I will try to post them as well.

Links to sets:

Sanzen's portraits Sanzen's ethnic images Sanzen's people & lifestyles

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Decisional Regeneration Catechism?

Jeff of Mindful Wanderings of a Weary Crusader has added an interesting post called The Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism. I find this post intriguing and funny. He has summed up in catechismic style what I in bibliographical form cited as "decisional regeneration". If the answers to these questions sound like your own, it may very well be likely that you have a very "cultured" profession, and a modernized one at that. Check it out. HT:: Scott Slayton and Joe Thorn

Books I Am Reading for Fall of 2005

These are the books I am reading for the fall of this year (2005). In the future, I will be providing links for some (probably the personal ones). If I have left any out, I will update this post in the future. If any of you are reading any of these works, I would love to discuss them with you. >> School << Athanasius. “On the Incarnation of the Word” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. vol. 4 Phillip Schaff, ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004. Augustine of Hippo. “The Enchidridion” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. vol. 3 Phillip Schaff, ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004. Bettenson, Henry, and Chris Maunder, eds. Documents of the Christian Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1987. Carson, D.A., Douglass J. Moo, and Leon Morris. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. Feinberg, John S. and Paul D. Feinberg. Ethics for a Brave New World. Wheaton: Crossway, 1993. Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Present Day. Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1999. Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994. Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Doctrines. Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 2004. Lane, Tony. Exploring Christian Thought. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984. Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christianity. 2 vol. Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1999. Martyr, Justin. “The First Apology According to Justin” in Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 1. 163-87. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004. Martyr, Justin. “The Second Apology According to Justin” in Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 1. 188-93. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004. McGrath, Alister E. Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. Nash, Ronald H. The Meaning of History. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1998. Schaff, Phillip. History of the Christian Church. 8 vol. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. Spickard, Paul R. and Kevin M. Cragg. A Global History of Christians: How Everyday Believers Experienced Their World. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994. Vos, Howard F. Exploring Church History. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994. Wenham, David and Steve Walton. Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Gospels and Acts. vol. 1. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001. Winter, Ralph and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. 3rd Ed. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1999. >> Personal << (Devotional) Brooks, Thomas. Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997. (Emgergent Movement) Carson, D.A. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. (Prayer) Chapell, Bryan. Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005. (Church Life/Leadership) Dever, Mark, and Paul Alexander. The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel. Wheaton: Crossway, 2005. (Church Growth Movement) Gilley, Gary. This Little Church Went to the Market: Is the Modern Church Reaching Out or Selling Out? Webster, NY: Evangelical Press, 2005. (Religious Pluralism) Knitter, Paul. No Other Name? A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes Toward the World Religions. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004. (Evangelism) Metzger, Will. Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002. (Religious Pluralism) Newbigin, Lesslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989. (Biography) Paton, James, ed. John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1965. (Culture) Pearcy, Nancy. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. Wheaton: Crossway, 20054. (Evangelism) Piper, John. Don’t Waste Your Life. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003. (Discipleship) _________. God is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself. Wheaton: Crossway, 2005. (Religious Pluralism) Plantinga, Richard J., ed. Christianity and Plurality: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999. (Missions) Van Engen, Charles. Mission on the Way: Issues in Mission Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Random Stuff for the Week of 9/23-9/29

* There is a new blog worthy of checking out called the One True God Blog. Some of the contributors are Al Mohler, Hugh Hewitt, John Mark Reynolds, Mark D. Roberts, Amy Welborn, and David Allen White. For a brief bio sketch of these folks, click here. * There is a wonderful source of great Puritan and Reformed works, quotes, and general information at Fire and Ice (also known as Puritan Sermons). I used to get much of my reading many years ago from this site, and recently I have been reacquainted with it. There a treasures of truth here! Check it out. * I just found out the other day that Shane and Shane have come out with a new CD. It is called An Evening with Shane & Shane. The CD was released September 13, and if you are in the Louisville area, they will be with David Crowder this Sunday night at Southeast Christian Church. Look forward to hearing their new stuff. * LibraryThing is a very cool program that just came out. Joe Carter (Evangelical Outpost) describes it a bit: For years I've wanted to catalog all the books in my personal library (over 1000 volumes) but was too lazy to make the effort. Fortunately, my procrastination has paid off. LibraryThing is a web application that lets you add book titles by entering a title and viewing search results from the Library of Congress or Amazon. The program then adds the book’s card to your catalog with ISBN, publisher, year and an image of the book cover. You have space to add a book summary, tags, comments, and a review -- and can even see what other users also have each book in their library. You can enter 200 books for free or buy a lifetime membership for $10 (beta special). I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to catalog my library, only to either have my computer stolen or files corrupted. This program will circumvent and protect you from such thingsoccurringg while provide a quick, efficient, and quality job in the process. >> Finally, let me mention of some happenings with P&P this week. Phil Steiger has been critiquing the satellite church model and found my article called Franchising Church. His blog is called Every Thought Captive. Also, Phil Johnson (Pyromaniac) mentions that I mentioned his bookmarks last week. Also, this week has welcomed many visitors and readers. To all of you new to P&P, I want to say, "Welcome, and thank you for considering P&P a small part of your day." Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

- t.n.b.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Justin Martyr on 1st Century Christians

Two things preeminent in the conversion of Justin Martyr was the testimony of the Scriptures, and the testimony of Christians whom he observed suffer persecution, even death for the sake of Christ. Here's an excerpt from his first Apology (ch. XIV) where he describes some of the Christians: And thus do we also, since our persuasion by the Word, stand aloof from them (i.e., the demons), and follow the only unbegotten God through His Son - we who formerly delighted in fornication, but now embrace chastity alone; we who formerly used magical arts, dedicate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who value above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock; and communicate to everyone in need; we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies, and endeavor to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live comformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that which may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all. Talk about changed lives! And this was done in a culture much more hostile to anything we have ever seen. I think we 21st century Christians have something to learn from our 1st century brothers and sisters. May the God of all grace and peace continue to conform us into the image of His Son as He as done throughout the ages, for truly he is the Ancient of Days.

Switchfoot Sounding Out

Don't know if you have checked out the new Switchfoot album Nothing Is Sound, but I have been mulling over it the past few days. While I do not qualify as a die-hard Switchfoot fan, I do appreciate their musicianship and song-writing creativity. This album would be well worth your money. Although there are a number of songs which I am currently digesting, here's one that is particularly relevant to our culture: Easier Than Love by Switchfoot Sex is currency She sells cars, She sells magazines Addictive bittersweet, clap your hands, with the hopeless nicotines Everyone's a lost romantic, Since our love became a kissing show Everyone's a Cassanova, Come and pass me the mistletoe Everyone's been scared to death of dying here alone She, is easier than love It's easier than life It's easier to fake and smile and bribe It's easier to leave It's easier to lie It's harder to face ourselves at night Feeling alone, What have we done? What is the monster we've become? Were is my soul? Sex is industry, The CEO of corporate policy Skin-deep ministry, Suburban youth, hail your so-called liberty Every advertising antic, our banner waves with a neon glow War and love become pedantic, We wage love with a mistletoe Everyone's been scared to death of dying here alone She is easier than love It's easier than life It's easier to fake and smile and bribe It's easier to leave It's easier to lie It's harder to face ourselves at night Feeling alone, What have we done? What is the monster we've become? Were is my soul? Of course, there are other tracks worth sharing, but I guess you will have to get the CD and check it out for yourself . . .

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Please Remember Adrian In Your Prayers

Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of participating in mission work in the country of Argentina. In the course of my travels, I have developed some close bonds with missionaries there, but probably none closer than with Adrian Ferrari. Adrian is a unique gift to the people of Argentina. Having had HIV/AIDS now for I think 20 years now, he is a walking miracle. God has used him in tremendous ways to share his testimony of the greatness and glory of God through his transformed life. Yet, in spite of this transformation, his body has continued to take a toll. Just the other day, I received an email describing his treatment: Just wanted to keep you posted as to how Adrian is doing with his health. Last Wednesday he began the treatment for his liver. It consists of a shot each week (very similar to chemo) and 5 pills that he has to take on a daily basis. The side effects are very strong, including dizziness, nausea, and body soreness. The first treatment took a very hard toll on him, and it took him until Monday to get over all the pain, only to go back on Wednesday to the hospital to start week 2 of the treatment. But the Lord has answered the many prayers lifted up on Adrian’s behalf, this time his reaction to the treatment has been incredible (specially compared to last week). Please continue to pray for Adrian (his wife Alba as well). This is just the beginning of a 48 week treatment! As Will Herndon has mentioned, please pray for Adrian's health, that the Lord would maximize his days on this earth for a great kingdom impact in the country of Argentina. We all know that our days are few on this earth, but each day matters, especially when you have AIDS. So I am asking for your prayers on behalf of our brother and co-laborer for the gospel's sake. Thank you for hearing my request, and may the Lord continue to produce wonder and faith in God through the testimony of Adrian and the supplication of the saints on his behalf!

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me . . .
Philippians 1:19-22

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Blurbs from Brooks on Hypocrisy

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) is the author of several great Puritan books, not the least of which is Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. These quotes are from his sermon "Hypocrites and Christ" in vol. 3 of The Works of Thomas Brooks (Banner of Truth Trust). An hypocrite always makes himself the end of all his service; but let such hypocrites know, that though their profession be never so glorious and their duties never so abundant, yet their ends being selfish and carnal, all their pretensions and performances are but beautiful abominations in the sight of God. God may possibly be at the higher end of his [the hypocrite] work, but self is at the further end; for he that was never truly cast out of himself, can have no higher end than himself. He that commonly, habitually, in all his duties and services, proposes to himself no higher ends than the praises of men or rewards of men, or the stopping the mouth of natural conscience, or only to avoid a smarting rod, or merely to secure himself from the wrath to come, he is an hypocrite. Non-submission to the righteousness of Christ keeps Christ and the hypocrite asunder. Christ will never love nor like to put the fine, clean, white linen of His own righteousness upon the old garment, the old rags of an hypocrite's duties (Rev. 19:7,8). An hypocrite may be willing to embrace Christ as a priest to save him from wrath, from the curse, from hell, from everlasting burning, but he is never sincerely willing to embrace Christ as a prophet to teach and instruct him, and a king to rule and reign over him. Many hypocrites may be willing to receive Christ Jesus, [who] are not willing to receive a Lord Jesus. They may be willing to embrace a saving Christ, but they are not willing to embrace a ruling Christ, a commanding Christ. Hypocrites love to share with Christ in His happiness, but they don't love to share in His holiness. They are willing to be redeemed by Christ, by they are not cordially willing to submit to the laws and government of Christ. They are willing to be saved by His blood, but they are not willing to submit to His scepter. Hypocrites love the privileges of the gospel, but they don't love the services of the gospel, especially those that are most inward and spiritual. An hypocrite is all for a saving Christ, for a sin-pardoning Christ, for a soul-glorifying Christ, but regards not a ruling Christ, a reigning Christ, a commanding Christ, a sanctifying Christ; and this at last will prove his damning sin (John 3:19-20). An hypocrite cannot mourn for sin as sin, nor grieve for sin as sin, nor hate sin as sin, nor make head against sin as sin . . . He that fears sin for hell, fears not to sin but to burn, but he hates sin indeed who hates sin as hell itself. An hypocrite may be troubled for sin as it blots his name, and wounds his conscience, and brings a scourge, and destroys his soul, and shuts him out of heaven, and throws him to hell. But he is never troubled for sin, he never mourns for sin, he never hates sin because it is contrary to the nature of God, the being of God, the Law of God, the glory of God, the design of God, or because of the evil that is in the nature of sin, or because of the defiling and polluting power of sin. Sound words. Sobering thoughts . . .

More Incredible Photos of Various Cultures . . .

Afghanistan, originally uploaded by babasteve.

Steve Evans works for the International Center for Ethnographic Studies (Atlanta, GA), which I presume takes him to many different countries of the world. He is an amazing photographer and has many sets of various countries that are nothing short of stunning (especially see India, Kasmir, Pakistan, and Afghanistan). The man you see here is from Afghanistan. To go to his photos, simply click on the photo and peruse his photos via the sets provided on the left side of the screen.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Dr. Russell Moore's Ministerial Goal

On Sunday nights for the month of September, Dr. Russell Moore has been teaching on eschatological issues at Ninth & O Baptist Church. Last night, he spoke from Revelation 20 and addressed the different views of the millennium. Now the message was great, but one particular thing he said really grabbed my attention. The context was the millennial reign, and how the Church is to remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through Communion (the Lord's Supper). He mentioned about the mode in which we take of it. First, we have the stale, chicklet size bread (which I have yet to figure out), and the attitude in which we partake of it (squinting and feeling sorry for Jesus). Both, Moore said, is a misrepresentation of the way in which the Church is to remember the Victor and His reign. I totally agree. Christ has called us to a banqueting table and a feast in His Kingdom. He has adopted us as sons and welcomed us into his kingdom to partake of the inheritances and promises which are "Yes" and "Amen" in Christ to the glory of God. Chicklets don't suffice! And our attitude should be of exultation and jubilation for our King is alive, and His kingdom is coming and His will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. We are a part of an enterprise that cannot fail, and the gates of hell shall not prevail!!! So what's Moore's ministerial goal? To get rid of the chicklet, stale bread offered at the Lord's Supper. Any suggestions? I've got mine. What's yours? My suggestion: I think we should have the O'Charley's rolls.

Christianity and Hypocrisy (UPDATED)

It goes without saying that when you find a skeptic or someone who wishes to point out every possible excuse to becoming a Christian, the matter of hypocrisy will arise. I must say that I have not given considerable thought to the issue of hypocrisy, and since last Friday, I have been thinking about some various aspects/facets to hypocrisy. I don't want to explain them but rather share my "meditative points" (similar to talking points) over recent days. If you have any other aspects of hypocrisy worth thinking through (i.e. Scripture texts, sources for reading, logic/reasoning, etc.), please let me know. I want to deal with square on, and examine myself foremost and utmost in this matter. Here's the "meditative points": 1. To be 99% Christian is to be 100% hypocrite? 2. Good Tree and Good Fruit Bad Tree and Bad Fruit (Matthew 7:15-20) 3. The parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) 4. The hypocrites Jesus cursed (Matthew 23:1-36) 5. The Struggle of Romans 7 6. Philippians 3 – “let us hold true to what we have attained” 7. The NT usage of “perfection” (maturity) (Matt 5:48/Col.1 :28-29/James 1:4) 8. Carnality and childishness (underdevelopment/immaturity) 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 9. Failing the test (the worlds vs. God’s) 2 Corinthians 13:5 10. Performance-graded assessment (criteria/evidence/validation/observable data) 11. Should churches have hypocrites in it? 12. Shipwrecked Faith Wandering from the truth Straying from the faith Went out from among us to show that they were never among us 13. Contemporary dismissal of discipleship 14. The local church’s recognition of false professions (via baptism/membership) 15. Eternal security vs. perseverance of the saints 16. What kind of gospel do you preach? Easy believism? Lordship salvation? 17. The standard and entrance to the kingdom of God – how high? 18. Having an appearance of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5) 19. Pretender – Imposter – Hollow – Artificial fruit 20. Hypocrites are those who use the excuse of hypocrisy to avoid being confronted with the truth. 21. Simon the Magician Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11; 8:9-24) 22. The calling and condemnation of Judas 23. Many will say to me on that day . . . (Matthew 7:21-23) 24. Though a righteous man fall seven times, he will rise again 25. The counterfeit presupposes the authentic 26. Beliefs and behavior Profession and practice 27. Change and consistency Character and conduct 28. Giving - Praying - Fasting as Hypocrites (Matthew 6) 29. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1) 30. In hell the hypocrite "shall be beaten with many stripes" (Luke 12:47) greater condemnation? 31. One proud man may hate another, and he that is covetous himself will be apt to censure another for being so . . . so my a hypocrite loath that in another, which yet he alloweth in himself. - John Flaverl 32. The word hypocrite properly signifies "an actor or stage-player, a personator of other men in speech, habit, and action." - Andrew Bromhall 33. Enemies of the cross: god is belly, glory is shame, mind on earthly things (Philippians 3:18-19) 34. God has no pleasure in hypocrites (Isaiah 9:17) 35. Lip service versus sincere hearts (Matthew 15:8) 36. Having a seared conscience and speaking lies (1 Timothy 4:2) 37. Contrasted to spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:1-2) 38. The danger of being carried away in hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-13) These thoughts have arisen from talking to some college students at U of L and hearing once more the excuse of hypocrisy as a means for rejecting Christianity. What do you think about these meditative points? Care to expound on any of them yourself? Love to know what you think. I may add some more points as I continue to dwell on this important matter.

"I Want Baby Skin On My Heart."

It's not often that I listen to Christian radio these days, but on the way to church yesterday I heard something that I really struck me. The DJ brought up the life and legacy of Keith Green, of whom I am quite fond of. He played the song "O Lord, You're Beautiful" in which Green explains why he wrote the song. Staying up all night in transcribing the lyrics, Green shares how far from the Lord he had traveled, how hard his heart had become. He wrote a letter to God, and in Green fashion, he said, "Lord, I don't know where to send this, so I am going to stick it in my Bible." Then, he shared his plea, which was simply, "Lord, I want baby skin on my heart. It's getting cold, callous, and hard - not because of anything I am doing, but from what I am not doing . . ." He later shared that the natural process is for skin to get wrinkly and hard and callous, of which Green was very conscious and concerned. If we do nothing about our heart, then surely this is what we should expect. I am grateful to God because of men like Keith Green, so honest and authentic and bold. I think contemporary Christian music today would serve them well to take his life and music to heart. As I look for any Green-like examples today, and the only person I can think of is Derek Webb. He had something similar to say, with equal honesty and sincereness. His similar prayer was, "Lord I want a broken heart." Here's the lyrics: i want a broken heart i’ve got faith in the bank and money in my heart i’ve got a calloused place where your ring used to be, my love i’ve traded naked and unashamed for a better place to hide for a righteous mask, a suit of fig leaves and lies i thought the cattle on a thousand hills was not enough to pay my bills and i fell in love with those who proved me wrong and now i want a broken heart now there’s a great pad lock on the place where i was free and i’m feeling bad from swallowing that key now i work real hard but i mostly call in sick of a broken back from the ground fighting back at me i cannot look you in the eye so i check the knots on my disguise ‘cause i fell in love with fashion in the dark and now i want a broken heart i’ve got alibis for every crime a substitute to do my time ‘cause Your heart breaks enough on both our parts so now i want a broken heart now i want a broken heart now i want a broken heart

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Book Titles I Find Funny

These books I noticed while looking through the Fall catalog of CBD (Christian Book Distributers). I got some hefty chuckles out of these, and the captions by CBD are provided as well. Unveiling the Diva Mystique: Taking Victorious Living to the Next Level! by Michelle McKinney Hammond. Are you a woman with 'tude - diva-tude, that is? Translating the lives of biblical role models into practical principles, McKinney Hammond helps you explore the power of your inner self. You'll learn how to control your destiny, take a stand for what you believe in, be productive and fruitful, and leave a lasting impression. Also by Michelle McKinney Hammond: * The Diva Principle: Secrets to Divine Inspiration for Victorious Attitude * Diva-tudes: Divine Wisdom for Living, Loving, and Overcoming * If Men Are Like Buses, Then How Do I Catch One? * Sassy, Single, & Satisfied Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman. Get ready to make beautiful music together! Dr. Leman's practical guide will help any couple stay "in tune" for an active God-designed sex life. Addressing a wide spectrum of individuals - with positive, negative, or no experience - his frank descriptions, line drawings, and warm and friendly tone will help couples find greater harmony through intimacy. The Purse-Driven Life: It Really Is All About Me by Anita Renfroe. Up close and "purse-onal"! Still trying to understand your husband after years of marriage, and constantly praying that your kids don't end up on Jerry Springer? Join this midlife crisis club for lots of laughter and wise advice - and discover the joy and deep humor of everyday life during those maddening, amazing middle years. You've Got Potential! How God Maximizes Your Life by Bruce Wilkinson An apple tree without apples? A Christian lacking godly character and good works? Both are fruitless and contrary to God's design. Wilkinson gleans from John 15, explaining how God's pruning yields focused priorities, purpose, and passion. Features true stories, practical guidance, and self-assessments. Now, I really would like to comment on these books, at least some of them, but I will defer. I've got to pray the prayer of Jabez and find my Divatude and potential in the Purse-Driven Life, because, hey, it really is all about me - right? Till then, I will be checking out some sheet music possibly to sing a new song to my wife . . .

Jimmy Draper: A Stand-Up Guy

Jimmy Draper, exiting President of LifeWay, has been an encouragement for me as of late. With a seemingly growing antagonism and disdain towards many in leadership in the SBC, Draper has stood out and stood up amongst his peers. For example, it was heart-warming to see him extending comfort and prayer to Don Elbourne, whose church was completely destroyed. To see him shoulder to shoulder with those struggling to rebuild was especially meaningful (at least to me). Secondly, Draper has made definitive attempts to reach out to the younger generation in the SBC. From casual conversions with guys my age, it is evident that many are breaking away from denominationalism, especially the SBC (having seen and heard the politicizing of the church). In the latest version of Facts & Trends, Draper makes some very important and necessary statements. For instance, he says, "I'm banging this drum of younger ministers because I do not believe God is finished using the SBC, and that our best days lie ahead." I agree with him as well. Again, Draper says, "They've [young SBCers] have asked for a seat at the table and LifeWay is pulling up some chairs. I encourage every church and entity in the SBC to do the same." I think Draper has proven himself a great example and forerunner in this regard. Finally, in the same issue, Draper recommends Piper's warning against "professionalism" in ministry. Once I did a devotional on the first chapter "Brothers, We Are Not Professionals", and it made a profound difference in the trajectory of my ministry. While the point is that it should motivate you to stay, it proved to be the very catalyst that brought me to seminary. How ironic! In a day where many SBC leaders are shooting from the hip and throwing theological cheap shots from their stardom and platforms, it is refreshing to find a man like Draper who is in touch with the younger generation to whom he passes the baton. Consequently, I believe he will have a voice that reverberates far louder and longer than the biggest microphones in the biggest convention. Thanks Draper for being a stand-up guy and reaching out and standing up for the little guy.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Addressing the Charge of Contradictions in Calvinism

Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost has written a post dealing with the supposed contractions in Calvinism. Carter deals specifically with the much-debated doctrine of limited atonement. Of course, there are a lot of takes on this essential subject, and it is important that we be precise and profoundly biblical in our assessment. I think that this is what Carter is going for . . .

Snippets from Spurgeon on Hypocrisy

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) preached the sermon called "The Hypocrites Character." Here are some notable lines from the manuscript: This age is full of shams. Pretence never stood in so eminent a position as it does at the present hour. There by few, I fear, who love the naked truth: we can scarce endure it in our houses; you would scarcely trade with a man who absolutely stated it. There was once an age of intolerant bigotry, when every man was weighed in the balance; and if he was not precisely up to the orthodox standard of the day, the fire devoured him. But in this age of charity and of most proper charity, we are very apt to allow the counterfeit to pass current and to imagine that outward show is really as beneficial as inward reality. He who is true will sometimes suspect himself of falsehood, and he who is false will wrap himself up in a constant confidence of his own sincerity. With a blush, each one of us must confess that to some extent, our life is contradictory to our profession. We blush and we mourn over this . . . Can we say, that if every man were struck stone blind and deaf and dumb, we would not alter our conduct the least? Can we declare that the opinion of our fellows is not our guiding law, but that we stand servants to our God and to our conscience, and are not to be made do a wrong thing from flattery, nor are we urged to do a right thing from fear of censure? Mark: the man who does not act rightly from a higher motive than that of being praised gives sore suspicion that he is a hypocrite. There are many books, which are excellently bound; but there is nothing within them. And there are many persons that have a very spiritual exterior, but there is nothing whatever in the heart. Some people I know are like inns, which have an angel hanging outside for a sign, but they have a devil within for a landlord. There are many men of that kind. They take good care to have an excellent sign hanging out; they must be known by all men to be strictly religious. But within, which is the all-important matter, they are full of wickedness. Fine clothes make fine gentlemen, and fine places make fine hypocrites. But the man who is true to his God and to his conscience is a Christian all day and all night long and a Christian everywhere. He is no Christian, who cannot walk with Christ come rags, come poverty, come contumely (insults or ill treatment) or shame. He is the hypocrite who can walk with Christ in silver slippers and leave Him when it becomes necessary for him to go barefoot . . . These are some excellent sayings from a minister who excelled in Christ-likeness. We have much to learn at his feet. Hypocrisy haunts us all, and I think it is imperative that we contemplate and confront this matter - especially and foremostly when we find it in ourselves.

Friday, September 16, 2005

C.J. Mahaney, Humility, Greatness, and You

C.J. Mahaney, author of some recent, well-known books (such as Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God, The Cross Centered Life, and Christ Our Mediator), has his newest release coming out soon (October 23) called Humility: True Greatness. There have already been rave reviews by Justin Taylor (interview) and Tim Challies (preview) and others. Just this week, Justin Taylor (among others) have posted on his blog that Sovereign Grace Ministries is offering a free copy to the first 50 bloggers who agree to review the book. For more information, click here. From that link, you will find the information you need. At this moment, I am not sure if all 50 are filled, but I would not be surprised if it was. Needless to say, whether I get it free or pay the small price of $10, I will eagerly await how the Lord is going to use this book and C.J's ministry to all-the-more conform me to the image of Christ, who took upon the form of a bondservant . . .

Some Excellent Photos of Indian Life

Eyes. Madurai, originally uploaded by clauderenault.

Claude Renault is a French freelance photographer now living in Iceland but has recently toured India. He has posted some incredible photos of Indian life, and I know many of you would be interested in seeing his work (especially you who have loved ones in India embracing these people). Furthermore, a classic site of great Indian pictures is from a guy who goes by the name Nomad Russ. Here is his website. Click on the nation India, and it will take you his Indian pics. Whether it be missions, a global mosaic, or cultural study, these pictures could serve a myriad of purposes. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Random Stuff for the Week of 9/16-9/22

* Google has released their new search engine specifically geared for blogs. I think that I will find this tool particularly helpful as I navigate through the ever-growing phenomena. * Robb Schlapfer, founder of the Discerning Reader, Antithesis, and Christian Counterculture is, well, AWOL from the Internet. Last month, I made a post called The Disappointed Reader, which I guess now is the The Disappeared Reader. Robb simply says, "We're done," and throws the Gandhi quote underneath, which says, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Sounds like something's going on there. * Phil Johnson (Pyromaniac) has a well-known list of links/bookmarks with annotations that would serve you well if you were looking to find some good links/sites that would benefit your study and understanding the current of today's issues. * Todd Outcalt, pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, last week preached a sermon called "The Life and Times of Jesus" on September 9, 2005. "So what?" you might be asking. Well, his goal was to preach the longest sermon ever in the state of Indiana. Well, according to their website, The Longest Sermon (yes, they actually have a site for this), says that he preached for 12 hours. Whoopty. To add embellishment to this embarrassment, they are selling this sermon on 12 CD's for $75, which will go towards their building fund. Everyone altogether now, let's say, "Wow." * One of the new facets of P&P in the future is the welcoming of guest bloggers who will be addressing certain issues. I am at this moment working with a few who will likely be guest blogging at P&P in the future. More information later. That's it for this week. Still have so much on mind that I would like to write about! Have a wonderful and safe weekend! - t.n.b. P.S. - Oh, and by the way, I don't ever want to hear from anyone that I am long-winded preacher!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

News: "One Nation Under God" Ruled Unconstitutional

Well, if there is a reason why we need strict constructionist and originalists who will not legislate from the bench, we have it now. If ever we should demand that our leaders hold these rogue judges accountable and/or replace them with competent judges, it is now. Judicial activism is the only power liberals have, having lost both in the executive and legislative branches for the past eight years. To get their agenda across, it will presumable come from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the looney courts in California. Hopefully, this ruling will be reversed and bring legitimacy to the rule of law. What's next I wonder? Will preaching the truths of Scripture indict a preacher to prison? It's happening in Holland and parts of Europe. If history follows this trend, what happens there will inevitably happen here. It's only a matter of time. But then, I happen to think about the early church and how it thrived under marginalization of culture and persecution by government. When Constatine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity was weakened by nominalism and forced adherents. Maybe the courts and our culture will force Christianity in America to be true to form, and those who leave us will prove to have never really been a part of us as John puts it. Anyway. Here's some of the press coverage: * The Judges Ruling * Newdow vs. U.S. AP Article CNN Article Yahoo Article Fox News Article USA Today Article Crosswalk.com Article

Get Your Roll Off

I had intention of writing a particularly different post this morning, but I thought I'd share a frustration I have recently experienced with myself. While sitting next to the belt tonight and reading a book, I noticed somewhat of a discomfort with my stomach. I thought, "Was it the chicken fingers?" Then I realized that "This too came to pass." Check that off. Then I thought, "Well, I must be bloated since I have been drinking so much carbonated drinks" (I had been drinking a 1-liter Mountain Dew). Then I realized that it was not that either. Upon brief examination of myself, I realized what it was. Crunched over the evidence was obvious - it was a roll of fat! I was aghast in what was unbeknownst to me. It appears that I have been living in denial and negligence over the undisciplined disposition I have taken to my overall well-being. The procession of soft drinks, the hours sitting in a desk or behind the computer, the lethargic attitude towards exercise all began to stream across my mind. I am now over a quarter century old (perspective here), and I am not getting younger nor my metabolism getting faster. The years where I had the bird chest and rib counting contests are far gone. This provocation was like a lightning strike in the midnight hour for me. I must take care of this temple with all diligence and discipline lest I be disqualified. In one sense I am being silly of course; but in another sense, I am just shaking my head and thinking to myself, "Get off your lazy butt and start taking care of this body God has given you." I have one body, and if I am going to wear it out, I want to wear it out good. Thus, it needs to be in utmost condition. Therefore, I am endeavoring to do my exercise thing called "Get Your Roll Off." I figured it sounds better than "Body by Timmy" or "Buns of Steel." You know, one thing I have realized is that how one cares for oneself physically (in regards to discipline and discretion) often is a mirror of how one cares for oneself spiritually. One of the things about exercising is feeling the soreness which is getting my body out of its couch potato habit and comfort zone, and maybe this will produce the same effect for my spiritual life. Maybe I will give an update in the future as to the outcome of this provocation. One this is for sure: I don't want to be a poor example of discipline and dedication. And I don't want to be fat and have rolls! I konw this may sound trivial and superficial, but I think you will discover that behind and underneath this provocation is real justification for me to get off my butt and "Get Your Roll Off."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Milestone 5000: Thank You

Yesterday, P&P experienced a milestone, and I didn't even realize it. I started this thing back in mid-March, not knowing what in the world would become of it. Since May, there have been over 5,000 hits on Provocations and Pantings, and I am humbled to see that there are many of you who find interest in the things in my life and the matters which are important to me. I am excited about the future of P&P. Right now, I have made 194 posts here - some which have provoked, others which have made me pant. In this journey, some of you have disagreed with me, and I thank you for that. It has challenged me and sharpened me. Others have brought words of encouragement and affirmation, and for that I am grateful as well. It is a deep desire of mine that there be a generation of Christians who are white-hot in passion for the glory of God and are intellectually engaged in the truths of God's Word while being discerning of our culture and compromising stances. In the days ahead, I will be working on providing various posts that will inevitably provoke and hopefully cause some to pant with greater thirst for the things of God. Please stay tuned, and once again thanks for allowing me to have a small part in your life. Your time, listening ear, and comments are truly appreciated. - t.n.b.

Derek Webb This Past Saturday

Sitting back about 75 feet didn't really allow me to get a very good close up shot from the concert, and we were all seated during the entire deal. Therefore, all my shots (less than 10) looked something like this. On the other hand, Derek Webb was great. One of the things I loved about his concert was that there was no band, no flashy super-strobbed lighting effects, no hype and baseless lyrics. It was soul. It was sincere. It was scintillating to meditate on. His new album is slated to be out December 26. From the sound of it, it will be definitely worth your purchase. Too bad Christian radio don't seem to find playtime for artists who actually have lyrics rather than repeats of worn-out worship songs.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bibliography: Decisional Regeneration (Altar Calls)

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have endeavored to provide you some credible information and sources to study the very popular technique called "the altar call." If you are like me, you would be thinking like, "I thought we had always done the altar call thingie." But I think you would be surprised. I have provided sources for both sides of the issues and encourage you to investigate those who are for and against altar calls. I think by now you know where I stand. The sources in bold print are ones that I recommend that you check out first. The ones in red are those against it, and the ones in green are those for it. Some are deeply scholarly, while others are individual's analysis and are highly subjective. However, it is important that we consider carefully this idea of altar calls to see if it is Scripturally supported and representative of what it means to "come to Christ." So here they are: Books Bennett, David. The Altar Call: It’s Origins and Present Usage. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000. Dever, Mark. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Finney, Charles. Lectures on Revival. New York: Revell, 1868. Ford, Leighton. The Christian Persuader. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Gundry, Stanley N. Love Them In: The Life and Theology of D.L. Moody. Chicago: Moody, 1999. Hawkins, O.S. Drawing the Net: 30 Practical Principles for Leading Others to Christ Publicly and Privately. Nashville: Broadman, 1993. Hulse, Erroll. The Great Invitation. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1986. Huston, Sterling W. Crusade Evangelism and the Local Church. Minneapolis: Worldwide Publishing, 1984. Iain Murray. Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Changes in the Years 1950 to 2000. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2000. _________. Revival & Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1994. _________. The Forgotten Spurgeon. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1981. ­­­­­­­­­_________. The Invitation System. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1998. Kendell, R.T. Stand Up and Be Counted. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984. Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. Preaching and Preachers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971. Nettles, Thomas J. By His Grace and for His Glory: A Historical, Theological, and Practical Study of the Doctrines of Grace in Baptist Life. Lake Charles, LA: Cor Meum Tibi, 2002. Packer, J.I. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1961. Reisinger, Ernest C. Today’s Evangelism: It’s Message and Methods. Phillipsburg, NJ: Craig Press, 1982. Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. An All Around Ministry. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1986. Stout, Harry S. The Divine Dramatist. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Street, R. Alan. The Effective Invitation. New York: Fleming Revell, 1984. Whitesell, F.D. 65 Ways to Give Evangelistic Invitations. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1984. Articles Adams, James E. “Decisional Regeneration.” Glenwood Hills Bible Church. http://www.glenwoodhillsbiblechurch.org/article.asp?ID=509 Alexander, Paul. “Altar Call Evangelism.” IX Marks Ministries. http://www.9marks.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PT ID314526%7CCHID629094%7CCIID1804792,00.html Bennett, David M. “John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards: The Evangelistic Methods in Relation to the Invitation System.” Lucas 25 & 26 (1999). Challies, Tim. “Decisional Regeneration.” http://www.challies.com/archives/000643.php http://www.challies.com/archives/000956.php Coleman, Robert E. “The Origin of the Altar Call in American Methodism.” The Asbury Seminarian. (Winter 1958): 19-26. Elliff, Jim. “Closing with Christ: A Fresh Look at the ‘Altar Call’.” Christian Communicators Worldwide. Kansas City, MO: 1998. http://www.ccwonline.org/closing.html _________. “Southern Baptists: An Unregenerate Denomination.” Christian Communicators Worldwide. Kansas City, MO: 1999. http://www.ccwonline.org/sbc.html Ehrhard, Jim. “The Dangers of the Invitation System.” Grace Sermons. http://www.gracesermons.com/hisbygrace/invitation.html Erkel, Darryl. “Errors of the Invitation System: Should We Lead People to Repeat a ‘Sinner’s Prayer’.” Five Solas. http://www.5solas.org//media.php?id=74&print=1 Fiedler, Sandy. “In Defense of Refusing to Heed an Altar Call.” Grace Sermons. http://www.gracesermons.com/hisbygrace/heed.html Gerstner, John H. and John Neil Gerstner. “Edwardsean Preparation for Salvation.” Westminster Theological Journal. 42 (Fall 1979): 5-71. Hardy, Carey. “A Close Look at Invitations and Altar Calls.” Shepherds Conference, 2003. http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/SC03-1050.htm http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/SC03-1050CDNotes.htm Heesen, David R. “Isms, Schisms, and Altar Calls.” Kingdom Digest. http://beloit.edu/~heesendr/Moody.html Johnson, Phil. “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: How Charles Finney’s Theology Ravaged the Evangelical Movement.” Glennwood Hills Bible Church. 1999. http://www.glenwoodhillsbiblechurch.org/article.asp?ID=731 McClendon, H.R. “The Mourner’s Bench.” (D.Th.) Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1902. Nelson, Rick. “How Does Doctrine Affect Evangelism?: The Divergent Paths of Asahel Nettleton and Charles Finney.” Founders Journal Issue 33. http://www.founders.org/FJ33/article1_fr.html Olive, H.G. “The Development of the Evangelistic Invitation.” (M.Th.) Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1958. Payne, William. “Altar Calls.” Grace Sermons. http://www.gracesermons.com/hisbygrace/altar.html Reisinger, Ernest. “On Coming to Christ.” The Founder’s Journal. Issue 21. http://www.founders.org/FJ21/article4.html http://www.founders.org/FJ22/article2.html Spencer, Michael. “Leave Your Seat. Leave Your Sin: How the Public Invitation Has Corrupted Evangelical Christianity.” The Internet Monk. http://www.internetmonk.com/invitation.html http://www.internetmonk.com/invitebible.html http://www.internetmonk.com/invitebible3.html Thompson, W.O., Jr. “The Public Invitation as a Method of Evangelism: It’s Origin and Development.” (Ph.D.) Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1979. Zaspel, Fred G. “The Altar Call: Is It Harmful or Helpful?” Grace Online Library. http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/etc/printer-friendly.asp?ID=704

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