Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Southern Baptists In Decline

Ed Stetzer has a depressing article that every Southern Baptist should read. In, The End of The Beginning?, Stetzer comments on LifeWay's recenlty released numbers that show SBC baptisms declining for the third year in a row. It's time that we wake up to reality, we need to face the facts. Just being Southern Baptist does not get anyone saved. We have a responsibility--get that A RESPONSIBILITY--to carry the gospel next door, as well as around the world.

Where does this begin? In the local church. We all have a responsibility to reach the lost because Christ said so, not to pad our numbers as a denomination. It should matter to us that the lost are continuing to remain so and we are doing basically nothing about it. As the population of our country has exploded, we have plateaued. It's time to get busy focusing on the majors...evangelism and the sovereignty of God (to borrow a J.I. Packer title).

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Ice Age?

I know this is not great science, but just because I like a good argument I thought I'd post this article on the coming ice age.

Scientist: Forget Global Warming, Prepare for New Ice Age

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Healthy Theology = A Healthy Church

Two lengthy quotes from Mark Dever in 9Marks of a Healthy Church, for your edification today.

What do you think? Are people basically bad or good? That will determine much of what you think a church needs to do. If you think people are basically good, then a church is simply a place where we sseek encouragement or perhaps the enhancement of our self-esteem. We need simply to take the good that's in us and build on it. However, if you thik something is much more radically wrong with us humans, if you think that we are spiritually dead, guilty before God and separated from Him, then there is somethign different that churches must do. In that case, churches need to present the Gospel clearly. churches need to tell people how to find forgiveness or their sins and how to find a new life.

Of course, our view of ourself is a direct derivative of our view of God. Dever puts it this way:

We must udnerstand God by His revelation of Himself, not by our own hunches, not by our own wishes, not by the way we like to think of God. Too often today we speak as if evangelism were advertising and explain the Spirit's work in terms of marketing. Some even talk of God Himself as if He were made in the image of man, rather than the other way around.

A healthy church has a grasp of God based on God's revelation of himself in the Bible. A proper, biblical perspective of God will give way to a proper biblical perspective of mankind. When people see God for who he is and truly see humanity for what it is, we will all be more motivated to carry the gospel to the depraved of our world for it is their only hope. We will also be more motivated to give praise, honor, and thanksgiving to our holy God because we will better understand how much he gave for us.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

A Return to the Reformed Church

This quote from Albert Mohler has caused me to ponder the individual/personal religion that we promote in the American church.

The shift from morals to values in the church is a sign of the Christian abdication of moral leadership. When the church joins in the affirmation that all moral issues are matters of purely individual concern, the salt has lost its savor. The reduction of morality to values was a hallmark of the 1980s, when progressivist educators pushed this agenda in the public schools. Throughout the educational world, "values clarification" exercises became the order of the day, with children and teenagers encouraged to invent their own individualistic systems of morality and to "develop" their own values. Since these are individually determined, no one can be right and no one can be wrong.

We can blame the school systems, and they do bear some of the responsibility, but we must also look to churches for the breakdown in our moral system. Churches long ago erased the concept of discipline and accountability within the faith community and began emphasizing faith as a personal decision. Liberal Christians refuse to emphasize any objective truth out of respect for the personal convictions of others, but even in the evangelical church, our focus on a personal faith in the Lord has caused many evangelicals to abandon the community concept of the church as Christ instituted it. Though the church is made up of individuals, it is one corporate whole.

Though our eternal salvation is dependent upon a personal decision and a personal faith, we must emphasize that faith is more than personal. The Christian faith must be a community faith in which we all participate through accountability and mutual submission to the Word of God and to one another. Morality is never a personal decision, it is enforced by a community and/or society. We need to recover biblical morality and combat the concept of personal values. The value or lack of value an individual places on an activity does not make it moral, morality is an objective standard to which individuals should be called within the confines of a faith community.

The reformers saw the church this way, we should too!

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Secular Media Awakening to Oprah's Cult-like influence

I have posted two articles in recent weeks on Oprah (Oprah, America's New Pastor? and Oprah's New Easter). Concerns over her recent New Age teachings have attracted tons of attention on Christian blogs, but today the secular media is awakening to the religious message of Oprah. Read Is Oprah Starting Her Own Cult? from

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Abortion as Art?

If you are looking for a sickening display of just how devalued human life has become in our world today, look no further than the senior art display of a Yale University Student who admits to artifically inceminating herself and taking abortaficient drugs to induce miscarriages so that the process could be filmed and documented as art. I'll not take to attacking this poor misguided young woman, but we should all pray for someone who devalues human life (hers as well as the lives of unborn childre) to such a grievous degree.

You can read the article for yourself here, but take caution, it is graphic in nature.

UPDATE: Click Here for an updated article from FoxNews and Yale.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I was encouraged today by a verse I'm memorizing. Colossians 1:13 says, "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son." This is good news for all Christians. God has rescued us.

This is also a stark reminder of the absolutel necessity for missions. Billions of people around our globe remain in the grip of the domain of darkness in desperate need of the light of Christ. We have the command from God to go and carry this light into the darkness. Will you take light to those around you today?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Killing The World to Console Our Conscience

PAPER: Global warming rage fuels global famine...

FOOD CRISIS: Global backlash building against ethanol fuels...

Both the NY Times and the Telegraph of London are carrying stories today chronicling the global outrage against global warming. In an attempt to "save our planet," the global warming crowd in our government has begun starving the population of our world. Of course, for the vehement global warming advocates, this should not be a concern because they blame overpopulation for much of the so-called global warming our planet is experiencing.

Christians in some areas have actually begun to practice global care as a form of religious activity, as though this were somehow redemptive in the eyes of God. As Christians, we must all remember to be good stewards of God's good creation, but the Bible speaks more about care of the poor than anything else. We have a responsibility to care for those who cannot care for themselves. Our government and the pseudo-science behind the global warming frenzy has made the decision for us that it is more important that we reduce emissions than that we feed the world.

The Telegraph reports:

The UN says it takes 232kg of corn to fill a 50-litre (about 13 gallons) car tank with ethanol. That is enough to feed a child for a year. Last week, the UN predicted "massacres" unless the biofuel policy is halted.

Our government might lead us to reduce our dependence upon foreign oil, but in doing so we will starve the rest of the world. It is time for Christians to stand up for what is right. The global warming crisis may or may not be real, but the crises that it's proponents have created is evident today. Rather than thank us for our "globally minded fuel changes," the NY Times reports:

But now a reaction is building against policies in the United States and Europe to promote ethanol and similar fuels, with political leaders from poor countries contending that these fuels are driving up food prices and starving poor people. Biofuels are fast becoming a new flash point in global diplomacy, putting pressure on Western politicians to reconsider their policies, even as they argue that biofuels are only one factor in the seemingly inexorable rise in food prices.

Admittedly, the food crisis is not an easy fix and the many variables are present, but one thing is certain according to C. Ford Runge, an economist at the University of Minnesota:

"Ethanol is the one thing we can do something about,” he said. “It’s about the only lever we have to pull, but none of the politicians have the courage to pull the lever."

It's time for Christians to be courageous and stand for the hurting and hungry in our world and to call on politicians to do the same thing.

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Test The Spirits

I was emailed this picture of a chalk drawing last week. This guy's artwork is absolutely amazing. Just glancing at that picture I could almost believe that the Coke bottle is real...almost. Of course, logically I know that it is not real because Coke bottles are not that big, appearances can be deceiving. I know that this Coke bottle is fake because I know what a real Coke bottle looks like.

The Bible warns us that not every spirit comes from God. In 1 John we read this:

Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Keep in mind as you search spiritual things in this world, some things are spiritual but are not Christian...those things are demonic. Test the spirits, for the Spirit of God will always look like the God of the Bible. If it looks good, but it does not match up with the teachings of God's word, you can rest assured that it is not from God.

Don't be fooled by the oversized Coke bottles of spirituality. They may look great, but when compared with the real thing, the lie is quickly found out!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Seeker Sensitive Showcase

Willow Creek Church practically invented the seeker sensitive movement in modern churches. The cry of the movement was less Bible, fewer demands, fewer religious symbols, and anonymity. It seems now Willow Creek is changing their thinking based on recent research they have here for more.

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What's Going On in The Shack?

The Shack, by William P. Young, is gaining popularity rapidly. I was first introduced it through a sermon I listened to on my iPod last week, and then was asked about it by a member of our church. Having been confronted with this controversial book twice in one week, I felt it neccessary to address the issue myself. This is not a book that I would reccommend. The views of God portrayed are heretical and dangerous. The only redeeming quality is its attempt to deal with pain, suffering, and evil in our world. Warning: this is a very short review, time does not permit me to address this at length (nor do I consider the book worth that much time and effort).

The book cover says that The Shack is "Where tragedy confronts eternity." Indeed, the author does address tragedy and its implications in our world and in eternity as well.

However, the author also refers to God as, A large beaming African American Woman. The Holy Spirit is a small, distinctively Asian woman, and Jesus is, a middle eastern man dressed like a laborer.

We can all agree that his assessment of Jesus is dead on, but the fictional view of God is nothing short of heresy. First, the Ten Commandments specifically point us away from any graven image of God...a person of any sort is a graven image. Secondly, though God has no gender because he is Spirit, God has determined for himself that he would be referred to in the masculine sense. Jesus did not pray, Our Mother... Jesus prayed, Our Father who art in heaven.

I think, however, that this error as well as most of the others in the book can be summed up in the author's words. Reporting a conversation between God the Father (the large African American woman confusingly called Papa and referred to throughout the book with interchangeable pronouns him and her) and Mack, the main character, Papa says this to Mack, That's okay, we'll do things on your terms and time. This concept is foreign to Scripture. God operates on God's terms because he is God. It is we, the creatures, who are called to submit to his terms.

When we make the decision that it is God and not we who submit, then our hermeneutic allows for God to be female because the Bible and God himself is made in our image and not we in his as the Bible plainly shows. I do not reccommend this book, but if you choose to read it, I would love to hear your comments. Apparently some people love it, I was personally disappointed to see the people who reccommend the book on the cover...As orthodox Christians we should always be careful where we give our stamp of approval.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

6 Reasons Pastors Should Blog

I got this from the blog at

March 31, 2008 By: Abraham Piper
Category: Commentary

In this article I want to convince as many pastors as possible to sit down and start a blog today. If I can’t convince them, then I want to convince churchgoers to hound their pastor until he does.

OK, all that’s overstatement, perhaps. You can still be a good pastor and not blog.
However, here’s why I think it would be good for you and your congregation if you did.

Pastors should blog…

1. …to write.

If you’re a pastor, you probably already know the value writing has for thinking. Through writing, you delve into new ideas and new insights. If you strive to write well, you will at the same time be striving to think well.

Then when you share new ideas and new insights, readers can come along with you wherever your good writing and good thinking bring you.

There is no better way to simply and quickly share your writing than by maintaining a blog. And if you’re serious about your blog, it will help you not only in your thinking, but in your discipline as well, as people begin to regularly expect quality insight from you.

2. …to teach.

Most pastors I’ve run into love to talk. Many of them laugh at themselves about how long-winded they’re sometimes tempted to be.

Enter Blog.

Here is where a pastor has an outlet for whatever he didn’t get to say on Sunday. Your blog is where you can pass on that perfect analogy you only just thought of; that hilarious yet meaningful story you couldn’t connect to your text no matter how hard you tried; that last point you skipped over even though you needed it to complete your 8-point acrostic sermon that almost spelled HUMILITY.

And more than just a catch-all for sermon spill-over, a blog is a perfect place for those 30-second nuggets of truth that come in your devotions or while you’re reading the newspaper. You may never write a full-fledged article about these brief insights or preach a whole sermon, but via your blog, your people can still learn from them just like you did.

3. …to recommend.

With every counseling session or after-service conversation, a pastor is recommending something. Sometimes it’s a book or a charity. Maybe it’s a bed-and-breakfast for that couple he can tell really needs to get away. And sometimes it’s simply Jesus.

With a blog, you can recommend something to hundreds of people instead of just a few. Some recommendations may be specific to certain people, but that seems like it would be rare. It’s more likely to be the case that if one man asks you whether you know of any good help for a pornography addiction, then dozens of other men out there also need to know, but aren’t asking.

Blog it.

Recommendation, however, is more than pointing people to helpful things. It’s a tone of voice, an overall aura that good blogs cultivate.

Blogs are not generally good places to be didactic. Rather, they’re ideal for suggesting and commending. I’ve learned, after I write, to go back and cut those lines that sound like commands or even overbearing suggestions, no matter how right they may be. Because if it’s true for my audience, it’s true for me, so why not word it in such a way that I’m the weak one, rather than them?

People want to know that their pastor knows he is an ordinary, imperfect human being. They want to know that you’re recommending things that have helped you in your own weakness. If you say, “When I struggled with weight-loss, I did such-and-such,” it will come across very differently than if you say, “Do such-and-such if you’re over-weight…”

If you use your blog to encourage people through suggesting and commending everything from local restaurants to Jesus Christ, it will complement the biblical authority that you rightly assume when you stand behind the pulpit.

4. …to interact.

There are a lot of ways for a pastor to keep his finger on the pulse of his people. A blog is by no means necessary in this regard. However, it does add a helpful new way to stay abreast of people’s opinions and questions.

Who knows what sermon series might arise after a pastor hears some surprising feedback about one of his 30-second-nuggets-of-truth?

5. …to develop an eye for what is meaningful.

For good or ill, most committed bloggers live with the constant question in their mind: Is this bloggable? This could become a neurosis, but I’ll put a positive spin on it: It nurtures a habit of looking for insight and wisdom and value in every situation, no matter how mundane.

If you live life looking for what is worthwhile in every little thing, you will see more of what God has to teach you. And the more he teaches you, the more you can teach others. As you begin to be inspired and to collect ideas, you will find that the new things you’ve seen and learned enrich far more of your life than just your blog.

6. …to be known.

This is where I see the greatest advantage for blogging pastors.
Your people hear you teach a lot; it’s probably the main way that most of them know you. You preach on Sundays, teach on Wednesdays, give messages at weddings, funerals, youth events, retreats, etc.

This is good—it’s your job. But it’s not all you are. Not that you need to be told this, but you are far more than your ideas. Ideas are a crucial part of your identity, but still just a part.
You’re a husband and a father. You’re some people’s friend and other people’s enemy. Maybe you love the Nittany Lions. Maybe you hate fruity salad. Maybe you struggle to pray. Maybe listening to the kids’ choir last weekend was—to your surprise—the most moving worship experience you’ve ever had.

These are the things that make you the man that leads your church. They’re the windows into your personality that perhaps stay shuttered when you’re teaching the Bible. Sometimes your people need to look in—not all the way in, and not into every room—but your people need some access to you as a person. A blog is one way to help them.

You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for your people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back. This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say. If you practice the kind of holiness that your people expect of you, then your life itself opened before them is good leadership—even when you fail.


For most of you, anything you post online will only be a small piece in the grand scheme of your pastoral leadership. But if you can maintain a blog that is both compelling and personal, it can be an important small piece.

It will give you access to your people’s minds and hearts in a unique way by giving them a chance to know you as a well-rounded person. You will no longer be only a preacher and a teacher, but also a guy who had a hard time putting together a swing-set for his kids last weekend. People will open up for you as you open up like this for them. Letting people catch an honest glimpse of your life will add authenticity to your teaching and depth to your ministry,

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Oprah, America's New Pastor?

Well, according to Scripture, I do not believe that pastors wear skirts (unless they are Scottish men, but then they are called kilts). However, on a very serious note, Oprah's newfound alliance with Eckhart Tolle and his book, A New Earth should show up on the radar screens of informed and concerned Christians across America. Though, I do not believe that our faith is seriously threatened by this or any other heresy, I do believe that many souls will be led astray because of this erroneous and pseudo-christian teaching. The scariest thing for me about Oprah is her ability to synchronize the teachigns of New Age with the teaching of Christ in her own mind.

Of course, in her own mind, is the only place where these two belief systems could ever be compatible. In her own words, Oprah was opened to the idea of New Age because she wanted to, open [her] mind to the absolute indescribable hugeness of that which we call God.

Oprah goes on to say that she took God out of the box. Of course, I never knew God was in a box, even in the Old Testament the Ark of the Covenant (which was a box) represented the throne of God, he was never contained inside of it. But, in her attempts to free a God that she thought to be imprisoned, Oprah says this:

I grew up in the Baptist Church where there were rules, belief systems, and doctrine.

Shockingly, she says this as though the doctrine of her church were some sort of punishment that kept her away from God and kept God inside of a box. It is terrifying to think that those who pay much attention to Oprah in this new phase of her life will come to believe that definitive teachings from the Christian church are man-made attempts to define God. Tolle himself puts it this way, Man made God in his own image.

Of course, the gaping hole in the belief system of Tolle and Oprah is that their version of god (intentional lower case g) is not defined by anything other than their own experience. Oprah recalls being offended because she heard a preacher say that God is jealous, that didn't feel right in my spirit because I beleive God is love.

And further...God is...God is a feeling experience, not a believing experience. If God, for you, is still about a belief, the its not truly God.

According to Tolle and Oprah, doctrine, rules, and belief systems have created a God in man's image (of course, Scripture says that God has created a man in his own image (Genesis 1:26)) and that is Christianity's greatest fault. However, the lack of doctrine in their teaching leaves the concept of God to be a completely arbitrary experience. God is whatever you want god to be.

Scripture presents a different view of God. The Bible shows us a God who is jealous (Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24) , a God who is love (1 John 4:8-10), a God who created the world (Genesis 1:1), and a God who exists from eternity as the trinity (John 1:1). Of course, the Scriptures show us many other things about God, such as his wrath, grace, and mercy, but there is not room or time to list his many attributes. Primarily, the Bible shows us who God is according to God's own revelation of himself which finds its greatest revelation in the person of Jesus Christ.

A definition of God formulated anywhere other than the Bible is a man-made definition. To deny the truths of Scripture is to deny the revelation of God and to create a god who serves you. Oprah's god is not YHWH God of the the Old and New testaments. I do not know who or what she serves (though it is probably a demon, it is certainly evil because it drives people away from God), but rest assured, it is a god of her own creation and not the God of the Bible. I pray that she will soon see the err of her ways, but until that happens, I pray that the many who have been swayed by her teachings will experience salvation through Christ who is the only way to God (John 14:6).

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Consider the Source

Today I heard a friend (Bill Drees) say, "It's always the dog in the fence that is barking at the one roaming around free outside the fence...the dog outside the fence rarely even notices." It was a good reminder for me, and hopefully for you, that I should always consider the source of any comment (good or bad) before acting upon it.

When someone praises me, I need to consider the source and the situation. More times than not, we are not quite worthy of the praise we receive for something done right. When negative comments come my way, I need to consider the source and the situation. Often times, its the dog in the fence doing all the barking and that's just not worth my attention.

For example: the loudest dog in my neighborhood is a miniature dachschund. When Rowdy and I run that little dog gets all out of sorts, but my 80 pound boxer rarely notices the snack that aggravates him...why should he? Watch out for the dachschunds and the toy-poodles. They bark alot, but they don't have much to bite you with.
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Marriage and the Glory of God

Amid the current cultural confusion over marriage, here are a few great articles on the Christian concept of marriage. If you have time to read them, I hope you will enjoy.

Click here for a list of sermons (mp3 and printable format) from John Piper on the subject of Christian marriage.

The Beauty and Blessings of The Christian Bedroom, by Daniel Aiken, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Student Sues Wisconsin School After Getting a Zero for Religious Drawing

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What is written above is the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. You will notice that it does not say anything about the "separation of church and state." This is an unfortunate re-phrasing of the establishent clause of the 1st amendment. The use of this article by public schools and other government agencies to restrict the free expression of religion on their respective campuses is nothing less than unconstitutional.

FoxNews is reportiong today that a high school student in Madison Wisconsin is suing his school after receiving a zero on an art project that contained religious symbolism. The story, which can be read here, alleges that his teacher censored his artwork because it contained a religious symbol (the cross) and a biblical reference (John 3:16). In an age of "tolerance," Christianity seems to be the one religion that is intollerable, as reported:

"We hear so much today about tolerance," said David Cortman, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group representing the student. "But where is the tolerance for religious beliefs? The whole purpose of art is to reflect your own personal experience. To tell a student his religious beliefs can legally be censored sends the wrong message."

This story is and should be drawing a great deal of media attention, but it is of special importance for Christians. This story is representative of many that are being played out across our nation in the guise of "separation of church and state." That statement, however, is not to be found anywhere in our constitution. Religious expression is a freedom guaranteed in our constitution. In an age of political correctness, it seems that all methods of expression are available except the expression of genuine Christianity...

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Are You Needy?

Are you desperate? Are you needy? Most of us would thankfully say “no,” but I’m not talking about your physical well-being. I want to know if you are desperate for the Spirit of God to work in your life. Are you desperate to see God do something mighty here in your life and in the life of our church? Do you recognize just how needy you are for the filling of his Spirit?
We are in desperate need of God’s Spirit in our lives every day, whether we know it or not. Sure, we all say that we want to see God work, but are you so desperate to see God work that you are seeking God and his direction for your life and for our church? Are you spending time in prayer and in the Word of God seeking his face? Do your actions show desperation or stagnation, longing for God’s work or distraction by the world?
John the Baptist once said of Jesus, “He must increase and I must decrease.” That is the attitude that we need to have about our Christian lives. We should be more concerned with God receiving the glory due to him than we are with personal recognition, financial gain, or even growing numerically in our church. God is worthy of all praise and adoration, and our primary task as Christians is to see his name glorified in all the earth. We can begin by working to see his name glorified right here in Camden. Our individual lives and our corporate life as a church should focus primarily on seeing God glorified.
Our church has seen many wonderful things take place in the past several months, but we must always be careful to seek God desperately. It is possible to be “successful” in the eyes of many people as a church without urgently seeking the Lord and bringing glory to his name, but it is not God-honoring. As God blesses us, let us always be certain to seek him on our knees and through our deeds and to give him all the glory and honor that rightly belongs to him.

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