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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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Playing Catch Up

For the past week, I have had to put a freeze on any posting because of the providential circumstances of my grandfather passing away coupled with finals, papers, and holidays. I feel as thought life has stood still while deadlines have passed me by. I only hope that in the upcoming days the short time I have will find redemption in quality study time and writing. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. Today we held his memorial service, and tomorrow morning my family and I will travel 7 hours to where he will be laid to rest. Hopefully that long drive can be utilized for some good meditation, prayer, and reading. Tonight, I had just a few moments to breeze through the blogosphere to catch up on all that I have missed over the past couple of weeks. I can't really say that I have caught up on anything, but I thought I'd mention a couple of things I found in the few moments I have had. Purgatorio has posted a hilarious tidbit called "You Might Be Emerging If . . .". You have to check that out. Also, if you have ever wondered what your surname ranks in popularity, you can find it out here (HT: EO). Brister is ranked 6,522. Can anyone guess what number 1 is??? And don't ask me how I found this guy. He calls himself "Reformed, Catholic, and Pentecostal." He also seems to hate "fundamentalists" (a.k.a. "fundies"). I don't know how anyone could honestly reconcile these together, and it seems like I end up finding more and more weird blogs every week! Finally, on a more serious matter, Wade Burleson, a trustee of the IMB, has written an open letter to the SBC concerning their new policies on baptism and speaking in tongues (HT: Steve McCoy). For the record, there are some that have referred to P&P as "Provocations and Panties." Let me assure you, this blog is rated PG. I don't think I need to expound on this, and I don't want to get myself in trouble for doing so. Time to get back to the business at hand - sleep.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I have been receiving some phone calls in the last couple of days about some interested in rejoicing with our family of my grandfather's homegoing. If you are in the area, here are the arrangements if you would like to join us: Tuesday, November 29, 2005 Visitation @ Spry Funeral Home (Athens, AL) 6:00-9:00 p.m. Wednesday, November 30, 2005 Memorial Service @ Spry Funeral home (Athens, AL) 1:00 p.m. Thursday, December 1, 2005 Graveside Service and Burial in Brookhaven, MS 3:00 p.m. I just wanted to say thanks again for your prayers, phone calls, and emails during the past week. One of the blessings I have had in the last couple of days is pouring through thousands of typed and handwritten sermons my grandfather wrote over the years as well as the beloved hymns he loved to sing. All the more I see what manner of man he was and how blessed we as a family were to have him for all these years. Tomorrow, by God's grace, I will speak on behalf of him (something which he would not want me to do) and his Savior who transformed that poor, little Mississippi boy on the farm into a great man of God. May the Lord find pleasure in the things said and done, and even now, may he continue to bring sheaves into the kingdom of God by this farmer's faithful sowing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Travel On, Granddad, Travel On

June 30, 1916 - November 27, 2005
A caption found in one of his older Bibles: Graduated High School at age 18 Graduated College at age 22 Graduated Seminary at age 26 Years in Ministry: 63 Thank you, granddad, for turning the Brister family towards Jesus, and for being the signpost that always pointed towards glory. So travel on, granddad, travel on, for His glory is your reward.
A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad,
The heart of the wise is in the house of the mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-4
Please pray for our family during this time. Thank you.

Friday, November 25, 2005

One Generation Shall Commend Your Works to Another . . .

One generation shall commend Your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4
Yesterday morning, my wife and I came back to Athens, AL (our hometown) to visit family for Thanksgiving. We arrived in Athens around 7:30 a.m., and my parents are usually awake and awaiting us. Yet our expected reception did not happen. Wednesday night, my grandfather (89 years of age) had a stroke after eating dinner. He was rushed to the hospital and is now in stable condition. Both he and my grandmother (same age) have been in great physical health, although their mental health has been steadily declining. Yesterday, I went to the hospital with my family and grandmother to see him after the incident. He cannot recognize us, but I saw and heard something I will never forget. My grandmother leaned over and kissed him several times, saying, "Nolan, do you recognize me? I am your wife. I love you." She gently held his cheek and looked at him with same love and passion as a bride saying "I Do" for the first time. Yet, in their case, they have been married for 64 years (and courted 8 years previous to that). Doctors have said that my grandfather will not recover from this stroke and will likely pass in a matter of weeks. For the past 10 years, my grandfather has battled Alzheimer's as well as a condition where he is unable to communicate his thoughts into words. Yet, what has been so amazing to me is that in these "silent" years of my grandfather, he has spoken so much more than words - and this is evident in the love our family has for him. More than being a World War II veteran and minister of the gospel for the past 60 years, Nolan Brister is a man of God and my grandfather - of whom I am privileged to carry his name. Just recently, I was taken up to the third floor of Boyce Centennial Library (library of Southern Seminary) to see the graduating class of 1943, of which my grandfather was a proud member. There's a lifetime of things to say about him, some of which I will share a later time. Let me close and ask for your prayers for my family. There are no question marks about this man. There is no unfinished business for him. Soon he will be "complete in Christ" and beholding the beauty and glory of his Savior. But it is still hard for us here. We are losing a giant in our family - one whose shade we all found shelter, a tree whose roots have been firmly planted by the waters, a life that has been well lived. Yesterday, we spent our Thanksgiving Day in a hospital room. Quite a fitting place for such a day, for our family gives thanks to Jesus for the man who, though lying down, stands tall than ever before. As my dad explained the immanent death of my grandfather, she will tender assurance said, "Nolan has been ready to go on and be with Jesus. We don't need to do anything to keep him here. Heaven's waiting for him, and I won't be far behind." My grandfather served God's purpose for him in his generation, and has commended to my father and me the greatness of our God. The rich deposit of faith and testimony of the glorious knowledge of God has been handed down to us, and it is our solemn responsibility as good stewards to commend God's works to another generation to come. May God allow us to follow in his train. As the days ahead will be both difficult and joyous, please remember my family in your prayers, and my grandmother (Frances Brister) especially. Thank you.

Church + Reality TV = ???

On November 14, CT covered a three-part reality show airing soon in England called "Priest Idol." James McCaskill, a graduate of Wheaton College, sought to "revitalize" an old Anglican Church - with a camera crew following him. Minstry and media strange bedfellows??? To read the interview by CT, click here. To read the BBC report, click here. To read more about the show from Channel 4, click here.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Autograph Warranted? - And Happy Thanksgiving

Being in the Thanksgiving spirit, UPS held a "Turkey Bowl" where you bowled a frozen, wrapped turkey and tried to knock over 2-liter bottles. Well, I am happy to say that yours truly and Dan won the competition. We were written up in the UPS paper called LinkUPS seen here (Sorry for the poor quality of the print-up; I could not blow it up any bigger!) Autograph singing being scheduled next week. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you for allowing me (via P&P) to be a part of your life. The friends and fellow bloggers I have met over the past six months have challenged and shaped my thought in many ways. More importantly, I have been spurned to behold the excellencies of Christ and the iniinite value of knowing Him more each day. May the Lord find in us clay fit for his glorious purposes.


Daninmyeye, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

My description of this image: Well, I really don't have one. Look closely and you will see in my lens Dan taking this picture (might want to see it large sized). As someone has said, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the Dan Canales that is in your own eye?" Or something like that... Photo taken by Dan Canales

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Streams of Thought

Streams of Thought, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

My description of this image: Taken @ the lovely Dry Falls, this self-portrait is probably my favorite so far. If you look closely, you will see my "Smokey the Bear" button. Further commentary of this picture in response to a comment: I prefer the more subtle self-portraits. While many self-portraits tend to be narcissistic, this one intends to be an exception to the rule. Quite humbling to be included in the picture of the Dry Falls. The transparency of me is intended in more ways than one. I hope to be transparent in my photos as well as my approach/style to photography in general. The less of me you see, the better. Truly I must decrease . . .

* Disclaimer: If you click on this photo, you will be directed to my Flickr page where there may be comments by the public photog community that I may not have the time to moderate. As a general rule, I will remove any comments which have improper languange or inappropriate connotations.

Reason #5 (Reason for Reformation?)

I am giving ten reasons why every Southern Baptist (especially pastors and denominational leaders) should read Dr. Nettles' Book Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. At the conclusion of these ten reasons will be a brief review/critique of the book. "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."1 Corinthians 4:1 Growing up, I was one of those kids who was always at church. I can still recite the "Royal Ambassador" pledge and can recall the flavors of punch given to us at Vacation Bible School each summer. I never missed a youth camp, retreat, revival, or conference. I led our youth ministry and always took notes of our pastor's Sunday morning and evening sermons. All this, but I knew nothing about the gospel. It wasn't until I was in college I understood that I needed to be trained in evangelism. Although I knew the "Roman Road," I had a hard time of getting people on it. I enrolled in Evangelism Explosion (EE) to learn how to share my faith. With EE I learned a detailed outline with diagnostic questions, transition phrases, great illustrations, and follow-up steps. It had to be the most comprehensive presentation of the gospel I had heard of. Zealous for souls, I made it my goal to share the gospel to as many people as I can, with a goal to win 50 by the end of the year. I pulled men off their lawn-mowers in the summer and was kicked out of several apartment complexes for "harassing" people. I wore out the EE presentation of the gospel. Yet, before long, I realized that the gospel was sounding "too good to be true." It had become a sales-pitch which no reasonable, hell-bent sinner could turn down. Learning to recite the outline was so stressed in my training that if I left a word, verse, illustration, or transition phrase out, the person might not understand the gospel. I felt if I left out some of the outline out of the "Sinner's Prayer," then the sinner might not be saved. It was mechanical and method-minded, and I was missing the heart of the gospel. Thereafter, I jumped on the "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" bandwagon (Four Spiritual Laws). Now, I am not totally against Four Spiritual Laws or EE, but I felt that the evangelism I was being trained for was too glossy and neatly packaged. The goal, it seemed, was to be concise and precise, but I wasn't comfortable with it. Whereas EE made me think of evangelism as a sales pitch, I felt the Four Spiritual Laws was too fluffy and somewhat dishonest towards sinners. So I decided to go to Jesus Himself and try to figure this thing out. Soon, I realized that Jesus planted his life with "sinners and tax collectors." He ate with them and share most intimate communion with them in everyday life and shared the truths with them along the way. It was then that I realized that evangelism was meant to be relational. Those men off the lawnmower who prayed the prayer, they didn't know me and wasn't interested in discipleship or baptism. They just wanted to say "Yes" to Jesus so they could go to heaven. In the context of these relationships is where evangelism as a lifestyle should thrive. The gospel should be a way of life, and there should be not a day where I do not preach the gospel to myself. It was time that I truly understood the gospel as more than a method or plan or strategy. It was time to know the truths behind the plan and allow them to change my life. I needed a form of evangelism soaked with theology - evangelism that shared truth which if known "would set you free." It is here that Dr. Nettles' book finds its fifth reason. "The coincidence of evangelistic minimalism and encroaching modernism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries made strange bedfellows for theological deconstruction. Renewal in the work of evangelism involves a cordial embracing of full-orbed theology as friendly to, not destructive of, evangelism, along with a purposeful execution of a theology of means--or the methods ordered by God for the effectual operation of his gospel message" (39). The gospel involves the embracing of doctrinal propositions. The seed that bore fruit was the one that fell on fertile ground. The difference between soil and the other three (what made it fertile) is that the person heard it and understood it. But how does one understand it if it is not explained and taught to him? The gospel truths must be taught to unbelievers, and it is imperative that our evangelism be doctrine-based lest we find ourselves preaching a gospel contrary to Scripture. For instance, as Nettles states, "A method of evangelism built on a redefinition of regeneration may produce exactly the kind of carnal membership in churches to which Baptist ecclesiology is hostile" (40). Nowadays, I find myself teaching the gospel to unbelievers almost on a daily basis. I have more unbelievers as close friends as I do believers. I have learned to love them, to each with them, and to disciple them in biblical truth in faith and hope that the Holy Spirit will apply those truths to their hearts and be born again. It is true that they cannot understand apart from the Holy Spirit, but it is also true that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." I believe that if the SBC is going to experience true reformation, chief among all the changes needs to be that of evangelism. Those against this change would argue that we (Reformed believers) are being anti-evangelistic, but that could not be farther from the truth. We must be good stewards of "the mysteries of God" and get the gospel right. We must understand the doctrines of human depravity, unconditional election, divine sovereignty, human responsibility, substitutionary atonement, effectual calling, etc. I dare say that if you gathered a swath of SBCers randomly from the denomination and asked them to explain the gospel to you along with biblical reference, the overwhelming majority could not do so. They might be able to give a minimalist presentation as found in EE, Four Spiritual Laws, FAITH, or the like, but that is not enough. We must understand the truths and be able to explain them with sustained exposition and unrelenting commitment to God's Word while remaining utterly dependent upon the Holy Spirit to efficaciously work in the life of the unbeliever. I believe we done a disservice to the gospel by short-circuiting it and have bought into a corrupted form of evangelism. The front lines of reformation in the SBC will undoubtedly be found in the reestablishing of doctrine-based evangelism. And Nettles has proved a great primer for the future progress of theology and practice to be united in the supremacy of Christ in the advancement of the kingdom of God. Trackback: Reason #4 (Ready for Reformation) Reason #3 (Ready for Reformation) Reason #2 (Ready for Reformation) Reason #1 (Ready for Reformation) My Response to Ready for Reformation Ready for Reformation???

Pastor Punched While Giving Altar Call

Billy Joe Daugherty, pastor of the megachurch Victory Christian Center (Tulsa, OK), was punched in the face when giving an altar call this past Sunday. Daugherty had to have stitches because of the blow. Daugherty said, "I thought he was coming to receive the Lord, but he had another plan." No kidding! Daugherty says that he is not going to press charges but forgives the man of what he did. He says, "We don't forgive because we feel like it. We forgive because it's the right thing to do." (emphasis mine) To read the full story, click here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Baskinginbeauty, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

My descripton of this image: This image was taken by Dan Canales (my travelin' partner) at a peak in North Carolina called "Devil's Courthouse." It was a lovely sunset, and we were able to have a great vantage point to capture the landscape around us.

Reason #4 (Ready for Reformation?)

I am giving ten reasons why every Southern Baptist (especially pastors and denominational leaders) should read Dr. Nettles' Book Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. At the conclusion of these ten reasons will be a brief review/critique of the book. "Unbelievers who need the challenge of truth and believers who are hungry for meat are given cream-filled sponge cake. Minds and hearts undernourished and in need of the meat starve while scratching the sermon for some food. Needing an engaged exposition that sustains a critical inquiry into the text throughout the sermon while setting the text in framework of biblical theology, they hear a repetition of four or five ideas without any connection with the text" (34) One understanding of having been made in the image of God is that we are rational beings. God has given us the ability to understand revelation cognitively and respond in a coherent, articulated language. Looking back in church history, one can find some of the greatest moments in Christianity have been when Christians transformed the world in thought and deed. The sermons engaged the mind and fired the heart, and the truths which were proclaimed resonated in the streets in which they were spoken. What we have today in a sermon is a conglomeration of feel-good false positivism and empty platitudes to a therapeutic-driven listener. Even among some of the most conservative churches, pastors have been found to line their sermons with "Twelve Steps" or "8 Principles" or "5 How To's" -- all of which rarely have anything to do with the text. Where we use to emphasize truth understood and appraised by the Holy Spirit, we have pop-psychologizing undergirded by the felt needs of man. Sermons aim for the symptom but fail to reach the problem. People are given a spiritual band-aid as though their problem was a superficial one; instead, what they need is a physician who can diagnose the problem rightly and explain to them that they need surgery. We do not have time for peripheral messages. Sin is too serious and life is too short to have pulpits littered with half-truths mixed with worldly principles. Preachers often overemphasize application and overlook illumination and interpretation. Therefore, people are getting techniques without truth, help without the Holy Spirit, and principles without power. When the band-aids fall off, reapplication won't suffice if the prescription doesn't correspond to the true sickness therein. Sermons today have great illustrations to target the emotional side of man, therapeutics to target the psychological side of man, and techniques for the motivational side of man, but there is no truth to target the spiritual side of man. "Every minister must avoid the temptation to substitute cleverness for faithfulness. Though no scientific survey could measure the tendency, one receives the distinct impression from hearing large numbers of sermons from a variety of pulpiteers who have the ears of large numbers of congregants and media listeners that the urge of novelty and uniqueness often overwhelm them. Outline and alliteration frequently determine content more than text. Anecdote and speculative observation steer doctrine and application away from truth and into an alley obscured with the uncertainties of the preacher's personal insight. Forgetting that it is required of a steward that he be found faithful, the preacher's style or personal charisma gradually press their way to the forefront" (35-36). The fourth reason why you should read Ready for Reformation? can be found in Dr. Nettles' corrective to this plague in our pulpits. He reminds us of the priority and power of truth in proclamation, and simply because most Southern Baptist churches believe in inerrancy, this does not mean that you will find many Bible-driven sermons today. Furthermore, Nettles provides a couple of helpful excerpts from Broadus and Spurgeon on the proper usage of illustrations. As he poignantly states, the "undiluted and dynamic consistency and sympathy for revealed truth with the powerful and immediate operations of the divine Spirit" is the only medium in which the minister should traffic. Our utter dependency is on the efficacious operations of the Holy Spirit to regenerate and unbeliever and illuminate the truth. No matter how debonair or urbane a preacher might be, his success does not lie in the volume of his voice or the power of his persuasion but rather the sovereign work of the Spirit who applies biblical truth to the sinner and the saint. That is why Nettles' says, "The real effects of Christ's humiliation and exaltation, unfolded into the conscience by powerful and faithful biblical exposition, will bare the soul before God and empty the world of its false and destructive charm" (32). May these effects been seen in the reformation to come! Trackback: Reason #3 (Ready for Reformation) Reason #2 (Ready for Reformation) Reason #1 (Ready for Reformation) My Response to Ready for Reformation Ready for Reformation???

A Christian Prophet? Hardly.

Yesterday, I made a post called New Buddha Boy in Nepal (about the 15 year old who has been fasting for six months). For some reason, I rarely get comments on my blog, but every now and then I get some "left field" comments. Some of you may remember Andrew Bain's comments earlier in my second post on Jack Graham coming to Southern Seminary. He argued that Mohler should be anathema, and well, I had to deal with his extreme and outlandish comments. Well, today I got another one of those "left field" comments. This person's blog is called "The Christian Prophet" and here is what he says in the section "About Me": I am one who hears clearly the Voice for God and shares with everyone the predictions, all-seeing viewpoint, and teachings that are revealed. Although the Holy Spirit uses me to comment on political or cultural events, I have no agenda of my own, wanting nothing and only doing as told. How am I supposed to take these people? I simply cannot take them seriously. Part of me wants a hearty belly laugh; other parts make me want to throw up; yet another make me wonder if these people are seriously disillusioned and need real help. In each of his posts, he begins them with "The Holy Spirit answers:" Concerning the Buddha boy, the "Christian Prophet" explains that the Holy Spirit says the boy "is in your world as a part of God's plan for salvation. You must understand how God works . . ." Oh really? Mr. Prophet, you might have a spirit speaking to you, but it is not the Holy Spirit. I simply could not muster the desire to read any other posts in this blog (I could not bear it). The only Holy Spirit I listen to is the One who exalts Christ and illuminates God's Word. Truly, we are living in a day of false prophets, deceiving spirits, and religious kooks. My only hope is that people are not so dumb to think that this guy has anything really to say, except words to his own condemnation.

Asolo's in Action

Asolo's in Action, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

My description of this image: Doing a little bouldering to get a good shot of the valley below. Dan happened to catch me paused for a moment. I thought he did a great job with the perspective and composition here. By the way, anyone else sportin' some Asolo's? I've had Timberland and Salomon, but I've grown to LOVE these boots. Photo taken by Dan Canales (snowedinsojourner)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Reason #3 (Ready for Reformation?)

I am giving ten reasons why every Southern Baptist (especially pastors and denominational leaders) should read Dr. Nettles' Book Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. At the conclusion of these ten reasons will be a brief review/critique of the book. Often times when someone is looking for a church, they are asked what type of church they are interested in. For instance, people describe churches in such terms as "missional", "emergent", "Reformed", "traditional", "progressive", "fundamental", or "liberal". In addition to these titles, there is the pragmatic emphasis which shapes a church, such as "seeker-sensitive", "purpose-driven" or "liturgical". These answers which we provide are indicative of the people whom we are trying to reach. They are superficial titles for superficial Christians. We are not concerned with what they believe, for we ourselves are not concerned with our own doctrinal positions. We want what works, and we want people who will buy in with us to whatever works to accomplish a certain goal. Churches are therefore shaped by pragmatic perks rather than theological truths. At best, churches these days will attempt to provide a sound byte form of what they believe. Certain catch phrases or "vision statements" are meant to sum up what the church is about. These cliché’s are somehow to give a visitor a clear definition of what the church believes. Yet it is these simple statements are woefully insufficient and remind us of how far we have gone from building our churches on the truths of God's Word. We must get back to defining who our churches are by God's Word. The contours of faith cannot be shaped by overgeneralizations such as "missional" or "emergent" or "Reformed", for to ten people these titles can mean at least eleven different things. Nor can we simply give a marquee answer to the fundamentals of our faith. Furthermore, to place preeminence upon being programmatic is outright problematic. The church is the "pillar and buttress of truth", and we must stand or fall on our doctrinal distinctives and get back to the essence of Church as defined, described, and defended in God's Word. Dr. Nettles points us to a serious need for a healthy confession in our churches and denomination. Just recently, it has been shown where even our denomination leaders have deviated from the Baptist Faith and Message (2000). There are others who say, "We have no creed but Jesus," yet that very statement is a form of creed itself. The question is not whether or not one has a confession, but rather what kind of confession. The Baptist heritage is full of great confessions, most of which have been ignored for at least the last century. Nettles explains that churches established confessions "by which they defined their mission and disciplined their membership" (18). He adds that creeds have not only declared the faith of Christian communities but has served "to test and expose the character of dishonest men, who, under the plea of believers, entered the church to pollute its doctrine and to divide and scatter its members" (18). If we allow our churches to define their mission, vision, and beliefs by some trendy and transcient ideas such as being "purpose-driven" or "seeker-sensitive" or any other fad, then our churches development with die along with the trend. To discover real reformation is to rediscover a confessional faith that gives exposition and characterization to the "unbroken streams of truth which flow from into the mighty river of truth" (14). A church without any historical or biblical roots will most assuredly be like the seed which fell among shallow ground and bore fruit for a moment but withered away. The only fertile soil for a church to define itself and defend itself against impurity and immorality is a healthy confession. Let me conclude with a few more comments by Nettles: "A true reformation must recapture the willingness as well as the historical and biblical aptitude to embrace a strong confession of faith. While the idea of doctrinal integrity and confessional fidelity has been given some thought and has played an important role in certain aspects of the beginnings of reformation, the implications of giving serious attention to the full range of doctrines in the confessions remains to be explored. If we only recapture the symbolic idea that confessions are important and represent a willingness to be stewards of the mysteries of God but fail to deliver faithfulness to the particular articles contained in the confessions, we invite theological decline and spiritual ineffectiveness" (26). My assumption for the reason why so many churches do not have a healthy confession is because the leadership does not want to spend the time it takes to be theological astute in the core beliefs of the Christian faith. There are more important things like business meetings, staff meetings, new leadership paradigms to adopt, buildings to finance, etc. I dream of the day where pastors and lay people sit down and discuss the precious truths of God and consider themselves as "stewards of the mysteries of God" rather than "masters of the methods of man." Trackback: Reason #2 (Ready for Reformation) Reason #1 (Ready for Reformation) My Response to Ready for Reformation Ready for Reformation??? Baptist Confessions: The Abstract of Principles 1st London Baptist Confession (1644) 2nd London Baptist Confession (1689) The New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833) The Baptist Faith and Message (2000)

New Buddha Boy in Nepal

Thomas Bell reports that there is a new Buddha in Nepal who has fasted for six months and is now being flocked by worshippers. Ram Bomjon, 15 years old, has been sitting under a pipal tree with the same posture as that of Buddha. Just last week, Ram was bitten by a snake. His reply simply was, "A snake bit me, but I do not need treatment. I need six years of deep meditation." And people say that Buddhism can be syncretized with Christianity . . . To read the entire story, click here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Yet Again . . . God Help Us

As we were sharing prayer requests this morning in Sunday School, someone requested prayer for a couple who just recently graduated from Southern who took an Associate Pastor position with a church in Haynesville, AL. What was painful for this request was that he and his pastor were yet another brothers who were kicked out of their church by a few families who found out they were Reformed. From what I understand, the church recently became registered with the Founder's Movement in the SBC, and the families constructed the famous "straw man" of Calvinism and appropriated it to these men who ministered to them. This couple, with a child on its way, had been with this church for only three months - long enough I assume for the power hungry to reveal who really is in control of their church (which is not God of course). My instant reaction is outright indignation because of the baseless and unbiblical ousting of men called by God. But later I was filled with broken-heartedness for these men and others (of whom their train is increasing weekly) who are victims of churches who are bound to tradition and not to God's Word. Why don't SBC leaders come out and condemn these actions? Although SBC churches autonomous, are they not accountable to the SBC? In some sense they are, for some [churches] have been removed [from SBC or local association] for women in the pastorate, homosexual endoresement, and the like. Why can't these ungodly and unjustified actions of such churches be held accountable to the sister churches in their association and convention? My guess is that when BaptistFire finds out about it, they will have it on their frontpage as they have done in the past and gloat over the recent "victory" over Calvinism. Other churches will find precedent to remove their pastor or staff member the same way this church has done. You know, before we begin to talk about baptizing millions or fundraising for our oversized church buildings, maybe the best thing we can do is figure out this thing called "Church" and work to get it right. If not, the next glitzy sign over the next church building might as well have "ICOBOD" written over it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Random Stuff for the Week of 11/18-11-24 :: Special Music Edition

* Joe Carter (Evangelical Outpost) has recently shared what he considers to be the best 99 songs that classify for the "Christian" genre. Can anyone guess that the #1 Christian song is??? Yep - you guessed it - "I Can Only Imagine." * "Indelible Grace IV: Beams of Heaven" is now available @ Indelible Grace. Other CD's such as "For all the Saints: Indelible Grace III" and "Pilgrim Days: Indelible Grace II." Indelible Grace is connected with RUF (Reformed University Fellowship), Belmont University, and Christ Community Church (PCA) (Franklin, TN). * Keith and Kristyn Getty are incredible songwriters and worship leaders. They have written popular worship hymns such as "In Christ Alone" and "The Power of the Cross." At Getty Music, you will find the latest news of new albums, tour information, and a really cool section called "Insight" where you can read about the story behind the hymns. Their recent album, "New Irish Hymns 4" would be well worth your money if you are looking for new, fresh, God-centered hymns. * The Song "Only Jesus" written by Marc Heinrich is available online in MP3 form along with PDF documents of lead sheets and chord charts. (HT: Justin Taylor) * A friend showed me a very interesting site called Sermon Jams. Here is their description of the purpose of the site: This ministry is designed to provide a format of solid biblical sermons in a medium that is relevant for the current generation. Our desire is to promote a reverence and passion for the supremacy of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. You can download MP3 sermon clips from the likes of John Piper, Alistair Begg, and Ravi Zacharias. They also provide their doctrinal statement as well as some short-term goals for the future. * Tim Challies has recently posted a lengthy interview with Derek Webb about various matters like his new album Mockingbird, social justice, doctrine, Don Miller, good books, and of course, music. Challies' interview is divided into Part One and Part Two. Also, Challies has some previous correspondence that would be worth reading. * A bit different in style and form is the creative music of Cross Movement. If you think hip-hop and rap is "off the devil" (a la Momma Boucher complex), then this is definitely not for you. But if you or someone you know enjoys hip-hop or upbeat music (I listen to these guys when I work-out . . . whenever that is). Most "Christian" rap and hip-hop talks about the "old life" and lyrics are seriously wanting (as in other forms of Christian music). But the Cross Movement is quite contrary. I encourage you to take the time and read some of their lyrics and see for yourself. Right now, in my CD player I have the album Holy Culture, but I also enjoy Human Emergency as well. Just recently (November 15) a debut album by J.R. called Metamorphosis, an eclectic blend of hip-hop, rap, and soulful ballads, was released. Other info you might want to check out is their Statement of Faith, Mission and Vision, and 2006 Ministry Initiatives. **** Blog of the Week **** He Lives (David Heddle) Subtitled "Reformed viewsof a nuclear physicist," David Heddle daily produces posts that are both intellectually stimulating and culturally relevant. As an experienced blogger (now for over three and a half years), Heddle has written on several matters pertaining to science, doctrine, worldview, and church history. A couple of recent posts which I highly encourage you to check out are Apologetics 1 and An Apology for Apologetics. I will (Lord willing) resume and complete my "1o Reasons" why everyone should ready Dr. Tom Nettles' Ready for Reformation? by the end of next week. Classes are over. Three book reviews, one paper, and four exams await me . . . ouch! - t.n.b.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving

This prayer is taken from a collection Puritan prayers and devotions in a book called The Valley of Vision (highly recommended). It is almost always at my side in my personal devotion and study. This prayer/meditation has been pressed on me in recent days . . . O My God, Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow. When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness. I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barrens soil; for the body thou has given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing sense to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding; for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste, sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joys of heaven, for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly. I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures. Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity. Often I find the prayers of such a Puritan expressing my heart in a more suitable manner than I ever could. Meditating on such little prayers often cause one to find more "meat" for thought than most sermons today. O for ten thousand tongues to sing of the ten thousand pleasures He brings!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Blessings of Providence Found in the Bend

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Matthew 6:31-33
When my wife and I moved to Louisville a year and a half ago, we did not know anybody in Louisville, nor did we have any clue where to start. Since then, God has blessed us with some tremendous people, two of which I would like to mention here. These past two days have been quite eventful for my wife and me. Monday, my car broke down. We thought it was the starter, but then again it could have been the alternator (I was not raised under hood, so cut me some slack). I began to think to myself, "Great. Here I am in a big town, broke, and don't know anybody. I can't afford to have my car towed or get a rental car, and sure 'nough can fit the bill of an expensive mechanic." So I shared my car problems with Dan, my good friend and co-worker at UPS, after sort. I asked him if he knew of a good mechanic in Louisville area, and quickly he replied, "Yep. You're looking at him." What I did not know is that Dan was one of those fortunate ones to have grown up tinkering with cars and had quite a bit of knowledge. He graciously offered his services and followed me to my apartment - at 5:00 in the morning. This was especially kind of him, given that he lives an hour away and would be driving another 30 minutes out to my apartment. To speed up the events, Dan and I slept for about 3 hours and attempted to figure out what was wrong. By the time Dan took the alternator out of the car, I had to go to class, and Dusti was planning on picking me up. He said that he wanted to take the alternator to AutoZone and get it checked and that he had a few hours to spare. So I left him there, and Dusti and I went to school. Later we found out that the alternator was fine, and we just needed to replace the battery. Then the next "bump" in the road happened. Five minutes from school, we heard a huge thump like we ran over a huge rock or something. We ignored it and continued on to school. Pulling into the parking lot, the sound came back, except it was, "Ka-plup, ka-plup, ka-plup . . .". Yep, a blow-out - on the only other car we had. Dusti was off on her lunch break, and we were stuck at school with a huge storm on the horizon. So I called my good friend Brad, who upon hearing about what happened, offered his car to Dusti to go to work and chose to miss class and help me change the tire. We gratefully accepted the offer, and within a short matter of time, we had successfully changed the tire - and managed to stay dry. Later yesterday, Brad opened up his apartment to allow me to take a nap and allowed me to use his car to go to work. I would love to go to greater lengths to share of the blessings I have received by God through his people in the last two days, but time permits me. My heart overflows with joy, gratefulness, and wonder. Driving home in Brad's car this morning, I began thinking, "Who needs a mechanic when you have a Dan Canales?" And "Who needs a rental car when you have a Brad Hughes?" And "Who needs to worry about a thing when you have a Father who will not let a sparrow fall to the ground without his permission?" A great lesson I have learned today is how needy we (Dusti and I) are. We need God's providence. We need God's people - one another. Our dependence and utter reliance on the generosity and kindness stared me right in the face. Coming to Louisville with little and knowing no one, we had a Father who knew our every need and supplied them according to his riches in glory. Those riches were manifest today, and I just want to say "thanks" to God for this bend in the road. If ever I realized that we do have family here in Louisville, it is now. What Dan and Brad did on our behalf is nothing more than the outworking of the Spirit of Christ crying out "Abba, Father" as we together as his children show his love one to another. How humbling and how powerfully meaningful was this eventful day where the Body of Christ served one another in the Spirit of Christ (Philippians 2:1-5)! Then I realized, "You don't find this in the world. The world doesn't treat us this way. They charge us too much, put us at the back of the line, and get around to us when it is convenient. But here are two brothers sacrificing their time and money, putting our interests before their own, and caring for us better than we deserve or could care for ourselves." Truly, it is by the love that we have for one another that is the distinguishing badge of those who belong to Jesus. While we may have two broke down cars at this moment, we have been given so much more. As I began to pull into our apartment a moment ago, I thought of these words. Maybe they can encapsulate what my heart has been feeling:
Thanks for the Bend
Thank you Lord for that roadway bend;
That I may see your providence and somehow comprehend
Your love and grace which you abundantly send.
I get so wound up that I fall to the ground;
Only to be found by Your truth - and that so sound.
Thank you for those flats and dead batteries;
For without it I would not have such precious memories.
Thank you for knowing my need before I ask;
And for beloved friends, fit for every task.
It is in those moments that I understand
That life is hardly about anything I had planned.
Instead, I should see the work of Your invisible hand,
And experience your love through people like Brad and Dan.
This week, I have had so many things on my mind to write about, so many I think that are important. But when I look in the rear-view mirror of life and see the past two days, there more important things in life worth writing about. I hope that you don't mind me sharing a little of what a great God and Father I have, and how He has staggered us by providence to once again be blown away that He has called us His own. And to all of you who have invested in our lives, thank you. I cannot say it enough. Dusti and I cannot live without Jesus, and we do not want to live without you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Across the Theological Beltway

Alright, I confess – I am a news junkie. I listen to Glenn Beck, Rush, Hannity, Boortz, and even Savage on occasion. When I am online, I always have an extra window open just for the Drudge Report and Brietbart when reading at the apartment, and 24/7 cable news is muted while I’m reading and studying. In the political sphere, there is an elitist group of pundits and politicians who are called the “beltway boys”. These “movers and shakers” can be found interviewed on hot-button issues and read in the big press op-ed columns. Whether it be conservatives or liberals (but especially liberals), there is the idea that they should do politics for you. To them you are neither qualified nor carry the credentials to be informed and engaged in the political issues of the day. For you to join the public square of politics is to undermine their superiority and challenge their impeccability. The best thing you and I can do is simply consent and comply for the good of our country and the betterment of our future. Since I have been blogging, I have noticed that there is a similar elitist mentality in the “theological beltway.” Most accomplished scholars, professors, and PhD’s hate blogs because, in my opinion, they think we don’t deserve to be “published” and have our work viewed by a larger audience. The criteria is almost as if your work cannot be published in JETS, EvQ, SBL, CT, or World, then you don’t deserve to be read. Furthermore, I think that the little man who would be at best a theological intern for these elites are perceived as the “bad boys of blogging” in that we are finding ourselves in some sort of controversy, debate, or current issue which is getting public attention. Part of me wonders if there is a sense of frustration or envy, for I would dare say that a well-known blogger would get more reads from his blog than a well-written, thoroughly investigated article in JETS. And to make matters more provocative, many bloggers don’t carry the credentials that would qualify them via academic achievement, theological contribution, or denominational acclaim that the religious elites have. A concern among elitists appears to be a diminishing state of prominence and transcendence, and the dismissal of dialogue is evidence that they are not willing to give any non-elite credibility by bringing them to the table. Yet one of the encouraging things I am finding about bloggers with whom I associate is that they are well-read and genuinely desirous to be grounded in truth and centered on the glory of God. Admittedly so, I am aware that there are some irresponsible bloggers who don’t realize the dangerous consequences of reckless comments and inflammatory instigations. Recently I have come across some blogs that are utterly disrespectful, entirely trivial, and most importantly irresponsible. But this reality as an inevitable consequence should not overlook the potential good blogging can bring. Among certain people I have been considered one of those “bad boys” because I am willing to bring to the forefront the synergistic teaching of prominent Bible teachers and preachers, the inconsistency of well-respected leaders, and the spiraling degradation of the church growth movement. My motivation on these matters is not for the sake of being controversial. It is that my conscience arrests me, and the personal investigation and/or confrontation of the matter is commanded in Scripture for me (and all believers for that matter). Whether it is Nathan White addressing the semi-Pelagian stance of Hunt or me in the aforementioned matters, if we had “Dr.” in front of our names or a book on the front shelf at Lifeway, would that make any difference? I think so. We are bad precisely because we are not on the “beltway.” The credentials and qualifications to contend for the truth and fight the good fight is the authority of God’s Word. I am not waiting until I get a widespread professional network of high-profile theologians. I am not waiting until I fill the west wall of my study with self-congratulatory certificates. I am not going to think that I have to have an article published in JETS to think I have the right to think critically, study rigorously, or write unapologetically. I may never have a work citied or a work altogether. I may never pastor a mega-church or be a president of the SBC. I may never be on the cover of CT and be interviewed on the most salient issue on the horizon of Christianity. But that’s okay. These should be nothing but consequential, not motivational. What motivates me is a passion for the glory of God and His truth. I am reminded of the sobering admonition of Paul to Timothy which has eclipsed the commentary of a crowd and silenced the scoffers. He says, “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers and example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, devote yourselves to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself, and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:11-16 It is my desire to be competent to discuss important theological, cultural, and political matters with those in academia. It is also my desire to encourage and foster theological development through discussion, exhortation, and exposition to all the people who pack the pew each day and want more than a superficial walk of transience or trendiness pervading our church today. On the one hand there is the populist anti-intellectualism; on the other hand, there is the high-brow elitism. So if I never make it on the theological beltway, my feelings won’t be hurt. My guest bedroom/office does me just fine. In the mean time, I will put my pants on one feet at a time and stick my highlighters in my hip pocket for an exciting new day learning, growing, and sharing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Reason #2 (Ready for Reformation?)

I am giving ten reasons why every Southern Baptist (especially pastors and denominational leaders) should read Dr. Nettles' Book Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. At the conclusion of these ten reasons will be a brief review/critique of the book.

Chronological snobbery is pervasive in religious life today. This mentality assumes that the doctrinal issues and ecclesiastical concerns are new and “emergent.” There are some who think that the doctrinal issues like election, predestination, synergism, etc. are doctrinal novelties and new "battles" that the SBC must face. What Nettles shows us is that there is “nothing new under the sun” and that great Baptist leaders dealt with the same issues we face today – and in a much better way. To think that this generation can do without the great Baptist history and theologians of yesteryear is of utmost snobbery and superficiality. Evidence of this superficiality is seen in the attempts to persuade individuals to certain theological constructions by personalities and not principle, exaggerations and not exposition, and being inflammatory rather than inquisitory. People are not encouraged to investiage the highly debated matters on our sole authority - the Word of God. Rather, we are to believe that Calvinism is a "dirty" word and election a "cuss" word. Denominational leaders have not sought to provide theological answers motivated by a love for the truth; instead, we only hear woeful caricatures and straw men constructed to validate their opinions and deter people from a sincere study on the central and foundational matter. It does not matter how sincerely or emphatically one might believe in something if it is wrong. Truth does not need hype and does not become more truthful when promoted by our favorite personalities. What Nettles does is take us out of this middle-school mentality to a more mature path to the material principle in the SBC reformation. My question is, "Where are the Boyce's, Broadus', Gill's, Fuller's, Pearce's, Manly's, Hall's, and Spurgeon's of our day?" Why aren't we handling the precious truths of Scripture and God's precious people in the same virtuous manner as these godly men of old? Who in our elder generation of the SBC will be remembered and memorialized with such acclaim as these? When the euphoria of American pragmatism wanes and the mega-church movement loses its popularity, what will our trend-following leaders have as an enduring legacy? What is encouraging and affirming to those of us in seeking true reform in the SBC is that people both in leadership and in the street are getting this. They realize that in getting to the end of their lives, it is not about being at the top for a moment, but being biblical for a lifetime. They do not want to be on the wrong side of history as obstructionists to God-centered change, but catalysts to causing Christ to be seen and savored as the Lord of the Church and Lord of our salvation. It is my hope that others will find Nettles book and discover a bleeding heart from our forefathers and champions of orthodoxy for real reform.

Trackback: Chronological Snobbery and Rootless Christianity Reason #1 (Ready for Reformation My Response to Ready for Reformation Ready for Reformation???

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dateline Special: The Birth of Jesus

In case you missed it (some of you have better things to do on Friday night), Dateline presented an hour-long special on the birth of Jesus (Keith Morrison as correspondent). Here was the line-up of scholars: * John Dominic Crossan - Depaul University * Ben Witherington - Asbury Theological Seminary * Amy-Jill Levine - Vanderbilt Divinity School * Scott Hahn - Franciscan University * Craig Evans - Arcadia Divinity College * Lesley Hazelton - writer (can't really consider her a scholar, but they interviewed her nonetheless) To read the full text, click here. Also, I just noticed that James White (Alpha & Omega Ministries) live-blogged the broadcast. Interesting to see the comments of one who has debated and interacted with these folks (unfortunately, Dateline did not have a conservative evangelical representation in their presentation). Dateline reports that the majority of Americans believe in the virgin birth, contrary to most of these scholars. Furthermore, they present opposing views of scholars against what has been traditionally understood in the nativity scene. The bottom line was: Is the birth of Jesus historical or fiction? As expected, Crossan said that it was to be interpreted as "allegorical" and a "parable". He later says that Mary could have become pregnant by adultery or rape, but not by the Holy Spirit (makes sense I guess if you are not a supernaturalist). Levine argues that the question of the birth of Jesus is "a question of faith, not of history." Why, the birth of Jesus cannot be historical, lest all our presuppositions crumble?! Evans argues that the birth of Jesus is to be interpreted more as a "metaphor" and "poetry" and "full of exaggerations." Finally, Hazelton argues that the Gospels were "not written as history but theology." One has to wonder if the intent of this presentation is to combat the popular understanding of Jesus and historical reliability of the biblical texts with skepticism and deconstructionism. They want to infuse doubt in the minds of folks by presenting scholars who devote themselves to this study, only to find themselves denying the very faith they appear to represent. The irony behind it all, of course, is that most of these scholars is out-of-touch with most of society and striving against the Spirit of truth who not only impregnated Mary but inspired the Scriptures. Just goes to show you that it does not matter if you are the most intelligent scholar or the "man on the street"; what matters is if you have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in you to bear witness to the truth.

Reason #1 (Ready for Reformation?)

I am giving ten reasons why every Southern Baptist (especially pastors and denominational leaders) should read Dr. Nettles' Book Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. At the conclusion of these ten reasons will be a brief review/critique of the book. It has been over 25 years since the conservative resurgence of the SBC. Since then, seminaries have undergone significant change, and the debate over inerrancy has been settled. Also during this time, there has been the domination of the church growth movement which has stressed technique over theology. Pastors have been stressed to sharpen their leadership skills and buy every John Maxwell book as soon as it comes out. They have been encouraged to overcome "barriers" by implementing the latest pragmatic lesson to the church (as if the Bride is some "lab experiment"). Sermons have become therapeutic and man-centered where the good news is spiritualized self-help, accentuated with proof texts. Finally, churches have fought political and cultural battles such as Ten Commandments, gambling, alcohol, etc. while neglecting the "weightier matters of the law." In this morass of troubling circumstances, Dr. Tom Nettles has written his book Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. This book is a very necessary corrective to the tangential tendencies of the SBC and serves as a means of reorientation to real reform. We would simply be fooling ourselves if we think that baptizing more people would fix the problem. We would be all the more foolish to think that there is no problem. So the first reason set forth for every SBCer to read this book is to have a proper understanding of the Baptist landscape from a historical, biblical, and theological viewpoint. We must understand where we have come from, where we are, how we got here, where we are going, and why. We should not be shaped by our favorite SBC personalities when they preach their sugar-stick sermons at the convention or any soap box sermonettes intended to polarize and not unify. Nettles, in his genteel temperament and profound understanding of the urgency and importance of the times, has written a descriptive and prescriptive work as a skilled workman and discerning seer. Ministers have been considered as "physicians of the soul." If that be the case, Nettles can be considered a "physician of the convention." To understand and apply the truths in his book is to apply the balm on a broken denomination and recover the heart of a real reformation.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Response to Ready for Reformation?

I am beginning my response to Dr. Tom Nettles' book Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. What I have decided to do is give 10 reasons why every Southern Baptist should read and carefully consider this book, and as a follow-up, I will write a short review of Dr. Nettles' argument. Each of the "10 Reasons" will be short but hopefully convincing enough to encourage you to not only get the book, but make it a priority to read it in the immediate future. I believe the SBC is poised for real change. Many SBCers like myself are tired of the triumphalistic attitudes of SBC denominational leaders and want real reform. Winning the battle over inerrancy and the resurgence of conservatism doesn't guarantee us anything, except the temptation to stay in a prideful disposition where reform is not welcomed. To this I say, semper reformanda. Let us seriously set aside theological or ecclesiastical differences and seek for the greater good and betterment of the SBC.

Sit With Serenity

Sit With Serenity, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

My description of this image: As you can see with my photos, I love nature, and I love parks. Louisville has several parks that make for a great place to get away and sit awhile. If you are in the Louisville area, don't be surprised to find me on a bench like this steeped in thought and enjoying the moment. (Taken @ Cherokee Park - Louisville, KY)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Random Stuff for the Week of 11/-11-11/17

* Cowboyology (Clint Humfrey) has recently been writing on "Redemptive Analogies" - a very important topic in missiology. He has three posts to check out: In Search of Redemptive Analogies? Part 1 and Part 2 and Viewed from the Field. In cross-cultural communication, getting the gospel right is preeminent and foundational for true Christian mission, and in cultures where there is no "stock imagery" or knowledge base, explaining the gospel can be very difficult. This is an important matter which deserves more attention. * Worship Matters is a new blog by Bob Kauflin (director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries). This week, Bob has written some great stuff on defining worship as well as expanding our worship vocabulary. With all the "worship wars" going on today, Bob's wisdom is great needed and should carefully be heeded. * Gary E. Gilley, author of This Little Church Went to the Market, has written a scathing review of George Barna's recent book Revolution. Barna's reach and influence upon pastors and methodolgy is far and wide, and more than predicting the next trend or benefiting from the most efficient technique is the divine imperative to represent God rightly. Gilley has spoken some sound words for a not so sound book. * This just amazing. Not that WWJD? is gone, now we have IWJO. "I Watched Joel Osteen" is an "attractive high quality pin" for sale online. I guess celebrities do have their fans. The developer of this pin shared that it was while reading chapter 9 of Osteen's book Your Best Life Now and the "Prayer of Blessing" which Osteen spoke over everyone that convinced them that "this pin was really a God given idea and will be used for his glory." While they say that this pin has no affiliation with Osteen or Lakewood Church, a minimum of 10% of the net profits received wil go to Osteen's TV ministry. I don't know if I should laugh, cry, or through my highlighter at the computer screen (or all of the above). * Jerry Bridges has a new book coming out early next year (Feb. 5, 2006) called Is God really in Control?: Trusting God in a World of Terrorism, Tsunamis, and Personal Tragedy. Published by NavPress: 160 pages. (HT: Justin Taylor) **** Blog of the Week **** Reformation Thelogy (Monergism) John Hendryx and the folks at Monergism have developed an excellent blog called Reformation Theology. Committed to the five solas, the contributors of this blog have solidly Reformed writing. One particular post which is worth reading is "Bible Logic Fallcies of Synergists". Got some important posts I am finished up for next week. Have a great weekend! - t.n.b.

Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

My description of this image: This picture does not do justice to the majesty of this falls. Dropping 411 feet, Whitewater is considered the largest falls east of the Mississippi River. This image was taken in broad daylight, so slow shutter speeds to capture flow was simply impossible. After taking a few photos from the observation deck (seen here), we were convinced that we needed to see this baby up close. Four hours later and through forest, rock hopping, and climbing, we made it to the base. Other images of this beauty to follow . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kansas, ID, and Richard Smalley

As it has been widely reported, the Kansas Board of Education ruled 6-4 in favor of presenting Intelligent Design along side the theory of evolution. While the ruling will not take effect until 2008, this is a positive step in the right direction. I expect other boards in other states to follow suit. Along those lines, I was perusing William Dembski's blog and noticed that Richard Smalley died. Dembski recalls his lunch meeting with Smalley and the predictions he made about ID. Dembski shares, "Rick’s prediction at the end of his life was that ID would be mainstreamed in five years and that evolution in its conventional materialistic sense would be dead within ten. It will be interesting to see if his predictions are borne out." Wow! Coming from someone so experienced in the fields of nanotechnology and contributed so much to science, this is saying something. I also recall a former prominent atheist who has renounced his atheism having largely been influenced by the plausibility of ID. One only has to see with such vehemence and insolent attacks the opponents of ID are making out of fear and intimidation. They know they are being pinned both intellectually and culturally, and more desperate attempts and baseless charges with result from the further success of ID. Let us be informed and engaged in this important matter.


Fallen, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

(I decided to resume posting some fall pics and backpackin images since I am in the moood . . .) Taken at Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Live Blogging at ETS Annual Meeting?

Since I heard of the idea of "live-blogging", a number of conferences have been covered by bloggers either "live" or with an immediate-response driven series of posts. For instance, Tim Challies "live-blogged" the Desiring God National Conference earlier this year and will be live-blogging at the Shepherd's Conference in March of 2006. Paul Lamey recently "live-blogged the Reformation Heritage Lectures with John Piper, Steve Weaver "live-blogged" the Ligonier Ministries National Conference, and Scott Slayton next week will be live-blogging at the Alabama Baptist Pastor's Conference and Convention. So I was wondering . . . The Evangelical Theological Society is having their 57th Annual Meeting a week from today (November 16-18, 2005). The theme for the conference is "Christianity in the Early Centuries." Being that I have spent much of this semester in church history (particularly with early patristics), I was wondering if anyone is "live-blogging" this conference. Is anyone planning on going and blogging? It would be great to get an insider commentary on the events that take place. If anyone has any information or links, please let me know! To view the full program of the meeting, click here. (PDF file) ** Also, while browsing around, I found JETS On-line (the journal of ETS). Very cool that this stuff is available online - and free!

High-Key Celtic Cross

Today I uploaded my 1,000th image on Flickr. It's hard to believe that I have taken that many photos! Actually, I think, when I go through my achives, since January I have taken somewhere between 8-10,000 photos! It's too bad that there's no guarantee that the more shots you take, the better photographer you become!
Anyway. Slight pause to reflect . . .

Thanks for viewing!

Flee and Be Free

Spread, originally uploaded by Sola Lumina Captura.

O that you would flee to Christ at once! You have heard this gospel now for months - O that you would see majesty and mercy! For He satisfies those who are hungry and thirsty - The promises of tomorrow are so uncertain! It won’t be long when death draws the curtain - Lord, grant them faith that they may believe! And repentance of worldly pleasures - certainly to leave - The sinner’s bounty is the beauty of the blessed King, So let us glory in his grace and let His praises ring! To taste and savor the grace of a Substitute, a Savior; Oh, for your good pleasure, may You be their Treasure! Yesterday morning, on the way home from work, these thoughts were heavy on my mind. Being at UPS, I am blessed with the opportunity to build relationships with many who do not know Jesus Christ. In the last couple of weeks, renewed interest and questions have been aroused in the minds of some of my co-workers, and we have had some great conversations about the excellencies of Christ. One considers himself an athiest, another New Age, and yet two others Roman Catholic. Just earlier this morning, one asked me, "Is the end soon?" We conversed a while between boxes of course, and had to abruptly end our conversation with her last question being, "What, then, constitutues becoming a Christian?" It has been a true joy to work side-by-side with these co-workers and pray that they will, by God's free grace, be awakened to new life in the Son. O flee, dear friends, flee and be free!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Nathan White, Johnny Hunt, and the Sovereignty of God

Back a couple of months ago, there was a lengthy debate on Don Elbourne's blog (Locusts and Wild Honey) with his post Johnny Hunt and Election which was later followed by Johnny Hunt, Election, and Matthew 18. These posts, as you would see, were in response to Hunt's rant at the SBC Pastor's conference this past summer. Just recently (October 30), Hunt preached another sermon wherein he addresses the sovereignty of God and election. Nathan, a former member of First Baptist Woodstock, has received a lot of attention, especially since Hunt himself chose to address him on a comment in Don Elbourne's first blogpost. Consequently it appears that there was some correspondence between Nathan and members of FBCW, and Nathan has attempted to respond to Hunt's message and the assertion that he and Hunt believe the same thing when it comes to the doctrines of grace. Yesterday's post is the beginning (though lengthy) response by Nathan. At this point, I have not listened to the sermon but am interested on how this will be handled. It is only my hope that through such correspondence the truth of the gospel will be, by the help of the Spirit, esteemed for the glory of God. With resurgence and reform taking place in the SBC, one of the best things that could happen is that God's people would be centered on truth more than personalities, regardless of which side you fall. Whether you are a disciple of Piper or Hunt, it is easy to agree with them simply because you admire them, or because they have influenced your life greatly. Yet, we are not of Apollos or of Cephas or of Paul but of Christ, and what should mark us as good Bereans is that we earnestly desire to be workman who are not ashamed and rightly dividing the word of truth.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bibliography: Anti-Intellectualism

A year ago I did some studying on anti-intellectualism (in particular with the Evangelical movement in America). Growing up, it was impressed upon me that being ignorant was virtuous because people would be amazed that God could use somebody so dumb. The preachers would call themselves "bottom-shelf" preachers, putting all the "cookies" where everybody can get them. Theology and doctrinal study was replaced with books on leadership skills and strategies for marketing your church. Pastoral studies were replaced by conference rooms and the church was not known for being the "pillar and buttress of truth" but the house that pragmatism built. Now, don't misunderstand me. I do believe that a preacher should be able to communicate to everyone, and the message should be as clear and understandable as the Bible. But what became of this antipathy to biblical scholarship and study produced a disdain towards institutional education so much that preachers who had a growing church bragged that they didn't have any formal education. They bragged that their sermons were not "elitist" talk but the "folkish" lingo found at the mechanic shop. The end result of this parasitic and problematic predisposition is staggering. I think it would be fair to say that a real reason why so much of the church is biblically illiterate and theologically inept is due to the example of ecclesiastical leadership and the atmosphere fostered by them. They say that to have knowledge would only "puff" one up, so it is better to remain ignorant and assume that makes one humble (I will deal with this later). Here is the bibiographical information for my paper called "Never Mind! Anti-Intellectualism in Evangelical Life". The bold-faced sources are primary and are encouraged to check out first. I sincerely believe that this is a crucial issue for the church. As our society develops a dumbing effect on our culure, we do not have to go along. To see a previous post dealing with this, check out A Cry For Christian Renaissance, which I wrote when I first started blogging. BOOKS Armstrong, John H. “Preaching to the Mind.” In Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching, ed. Don Kistler, 166-89. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 2002. Blakely, Colin. Great Christian Thinkers. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2000. Blamires, Harry. The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think? Ann Arbour, MI: Vine Books, 1978. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Wheaton: Crossway, 1984. Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998. Geisler, Norman L., and Paul K. Hoffman. Why I Am a Christian. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001. Guiness, Os. Fit Bodies Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do About It. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001. Henry, Carl F.H. God, Revelation, and Authority. Vol. 5. Wheaton: Crossway, 1999. Hofstadter, Richard. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. New York: Vintage Books, 1963. Hughes, R. Kent. Disciplines of a Godly Man. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001. Lewis, C.S. God in the Dock. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970. _________. Mere Christianity. New York: Touchstone, 1996. Lloyd-Jones, D.M. The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1987. Malik, Charles Habib. The Two Tasks. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1980. Moreland, J.P. Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997. Nash, Ronald H. Faith and Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988. _________. The Word of God and the Mind of Man. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1982. Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. Pascal, Blaise. Mind on Fire. Minneapolis: Bethany, 1989. Pearcy, Nancy. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Penguin, 1985. Schaeffer, Francis A. A Christian Manifesto. The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer Vol. 5. Wheaton: Crossway, 1982. _________. How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Wheaton: Crossway, 1976. Sire, James W. Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling. Downers Grove, IL: InverVarsity, 2000. Sproul, R.C., John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsey. Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984. Stott, John R.W. Your Mind Matters. London: InterVarsity, 1972. Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture. Wheaton: Crossway, 1994. Wells, David. God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. _________. No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993. Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. ARTICLES Armstrong, John H. “Editor’s Introduction.” Reformation and Revival (Summer 1994): 9-17. Bernstein, Carl. “The Idiot Culture.” New Republic (June 8, 1992): 22-26. Cobb, John B., Jr. “Faith Seeking Understanding: The Renewal of Christian Thinking.” Christian Century 111.20: 642-44. Helm, David. “In the Shadow of Fundamentalism.” Christian Century 112.15: 488-90. Jones, L. Gregory. “Why Bother to Think.” Christian Century 117.32: 1192. Kane, Carolyn. “Thinking: A Neglected Art.” Newsweek (December 14, 1981): 19. Lockerbie, Bruce D. “Thinking Like a Christian Part One: The Starting Point.” Bibliotheca Sacra 143.0569: 3-13. _________. “Thinking Like a Christian Part Two: The Means of Grace, the Hope of Glory.” Bibliotheca Sacra 143.0570: 99-108. _________. “Thinking Like a Christian Part Four: In But Not of the World.” Bibliotheca Sacra 143.0572: 291-301. Madany, Bassam M. “The Christian Mind.” Reformation and Revival (Summer 1994): 18-33. Newman, Stewart A. “Where Southern Baptists Stand on Anti-Intellectualism: 1973-1989.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 20.04: 417-30. Sproul, R.C. “Burning Hearts Are Not Nourished by Empty Heads.” Christianity Today 26 (September 3, 1982): 100.

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