Tuesday, February 24, 2009


One of the things that I praise God for is the conservative resurgence within Southern Baptist life. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Adrian Roger's election as President of the SBC, an event that almost all Baptist historians say changed the face of the convention forever. Since that monumental event, we have consistently seen conservative leaders who hold strongly to the inerrancy of God's Word voted in as president of the convention. We have seen trustee boards that were once dominated by liberals slowly begin to fill up with conservatives. We have seen seminary leaders who were liberal retire or resign, and solid conservatives replacing them to train men and women for ministry. We have seen faculty changes that has produced the best scholarship available today in our SBC Seminaries. In a word, we have seen a move of God that is unparalleled in the history of the church. For those who are interested in reading more about the transition years, two books stand out in my mind. The first is "The Bapist Reformation," by Jerry Sutton, a Southern Baptist conservative who now teaches at Liberty University. The second is "Uneasy in Babylon," by Barry Hankin, a moderate baptist historian who teaches at Baylor University, but delivers a well-researched and balanced evaluation of the movement and its impact on SBC life.

In light of God's grace to us in the last thirty years, this article reminded me of where we could be today were it not for the grace of God. This article was published as an opinion piece in the Associated Baptist Press, and it essentially accuses Jesus as being a racist until he encountered a woman who challenged his bias and helped him to "see" his error. After that he "learned" his mission was to the entire world and left his prejudiced views of Jewish elitism.

While there are many disagreements being aired within SBC circles right now regarding a host of topics, let's all thank God that all of them are being done from the perspective that God's Word is infallible, inerrant, and sufficient for our faith and practice!

Click Here for ABP Article


I thought everyone here might like to know about this amazing giveaway. A Boomer in the Pew, a Christian blogger, is giving away a Calfskin ESV Study Bible in honor of his first year anniversary as a blogger. Now I know what you are thinking: why haven't we done anything like that on here, right? So below I am including a link to the giveaway site, and I am also announcing that we will soon have a giveaway, and the winner gets to spend a weekend with Joshua Owen filing his books and papers while listening to him rattle off useless information and squabbles of the day from his world. I know, I know, how could we give away such a great gift. But the expenses will be covered in full by Dr. Owen! I mean, the guy has a PhD. and everything, so surely he can afford such a fantastic opportunity. Check back soon for more details, or just drop by Josh's house unannounced and tell him "John sent me for the weekend." He will be thrilled. :)

Click here for the ESV Giveaway.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

12 Steps to Better Bible Reading

4 Mistakes to Avoid
1. Taking verses out of context- for example John 15:7 - If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
- This is made to say that God loves His children and simply wants to give them their wishes, but when quoted in this manner the first half of this verse is left out. This could be made to say that if you wish for a new spouse or your neighbors house then God will give it to you. But we must not forget that we ask in the context of abiding in Christ and those who are abiding in Christ will only ask according to His will and for things that bring Him glory.

2. Reading Randomly - the practice of hunting for a blessing, or letting our bible drop open and reading the first chapter or verse that we see, or even just reading our favorite passages again and again - this practice robs us of the riches of God's Word, of all that He has spoken for us.

3. Holding to Tradition too tightly - when we read the Word and are confronted with a difficult truth that seems to conflict with we have been taught we are tempted to say, "well it can't mean that."
- For example - Luke 6:27 - But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

4. Ignoring Genre - we can't read the Psalms like Letters or History or Prophecy, we need to learn to read each kind of scripture according to the rules of the genre. Else we will end up confused.

4 Conviction to Hold
5. The Bible is the Word of God - 1 Thess. 2:13 - And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
- which means that it is also perfect, accurate, and trustworthy.

6. The Bible is Sufficient - It is the Word that makes us competent - equipped for every good work. - 2 Tim. 3:16-17 - All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
- There is nothing else that is necessary - we need to be readers of the Word, hearers of the Word proclaimed, living in community where the Word can be obeyed and lived out. But is the direction of the Word that must guide all things.

7. The Author determines the Meaning - I have heard it said that everyone finds their own meaning when they read the Bible - or that there are as many meanings as there are people - we don't treat our letters that way do we - when I write a letter I mean one thing - and since I wrote it I determined that meaning - when we read the Bible we read God's word so we seek His meaning and there is only one - it may affect our lives differently - we may have different sins to repent of - but the meaning never changes - we seek His meaning.

8. Joy is found in the Word - Joy is found in seeing Jesus for all that He is - since the Bible is the only revelation of who Jesus is then we must approach the Bible seeking to see and enjoy Jesus - it is not simply a duty - it must be approached as an opportunity to sit down to a feast.

4 Practices to Adopt
9. Read all the Bible - Everything in the Bible in from God and given to us for our benefit.
- 2 Tim. 3:16-17 - All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
- This means that we must find a system that works for us so that we find ourselves diving into all that God has spoken.

10. Read the Broader Context - Greg Koukle has a special message that he gives called - never read a Bible verse - his idea is that we should never read only one verse since it is so easy to take single sentences out of context - he recommends that we begin to think in terms of paragraphs - never read less than a paragraph,
- Think about how easy it would be for people to ruin what you say by taking only one sentence out of a whole conversation you've had. They could make you say almost anything - but you would argue, but that's not really what I said - lets give God the same treatment we want about our words.

11.Submit to the Authority of the Word - we are not free to disagree with the Word. We must hear the Word, recognize its authority, and submit. This is often difficult but it is necessary.

12. Read to See Jesus - Luke 24:44 - Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
- For example this morning I was reading about Joseph in Genesis - and his life is a picture of what Jesus was going to be - one person who suffers so that a whole people, in Joseph's case a whole region of the world would be kept alive. It was really moving to see that reflection of Jesus. But if Luke 24:44 is true then we must look at all we read with Jesus glasses on - trying to see the things written about Him.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

This is my little effort to help us all to love and treasure the gift God has given us in the form of our spouses. Now I do know that not all marriages are good marriages. It is difficult to treasure a spouse who is unfaithful to you, or who is physically abusive (you should treasure them from another location). But for most people this is not the case. Our marriages are simply less than they could be because we fail to take the initiative in studying our spouses and being willing to meet their real needs, not the needs we think they have. So here is my little effort at helping us all treasure our spouses more deeply and accurately this year.

How Men can Treasure their Wives
1. Tell her you love her a lot - they need to hear us say it, and we need to find ways of showing her that we love her. Tell her she's beautiful - most women still have a little girl inside looking up at you and wanting to know if you think she's pretty.
2. Listen to her - hear her out, and this is a big one, don't try to solve her problems, our wives are smarter than us they just need to vent, to get it all out, so we as men need to restrain our problem-solving selves and just listen and learn how to ask questions that help her get it all out.
- How not to listen - never ever tell her you think that she's over-reacting, never wonder aloud about the time of the month, and never ever tell her to calm down, unless you want to find out how to live without some of your body parts.
3. Help her around the house - this will tell her that home and family are important to you too, that you care about the burdens that she bears, and that you care about her so much that you want to make her life easier.
4. Try to be romantic - try to find out ways to make her feel that she has been romanced, that you are still in love with her, remember all the things you used to do when you were trying to get her to marry you, if you've stopped doing those things you may be in trouble. Take her out to dinner, buy her gifts for no reason, buy her favorite ice cream when she's had a bad day, never ever forget her birthday or your anniversary. Tell her what she means to you - now we are pretty clumsy about this but believe me they will appreciate an attempt - Women love to be surprised - good surprises mind you - try to surprise them, random gifts, random times to come home, just show up where she works to have lunch with her. Get a babysitter without telling her and take her to a movie or something. Study your wife and find out how you can best meet her needs.
5. Be a spiritual leader - make the attempt - lead the family in prayer, read the Bible together and to the kids.

How Women can Treasure their Husbands
1. Make sure he feels appreciated - thank him for what he does, tell him you're proud of him. Ladies you have an amazing power in this department. Everyone in the world can hate our guts but if we feel appreciated by our wives then we hold our heads high. You have an amazing influence on whether your husband is a confident man or not.
2. Make sure he feels desired - this probably means what you think it means but it could mean a lot of other things too. Find out what makes him feel desired because it is difficult for us to say this out loud but we need to feel desired, not just satisfied but really desired by our wives.
3. Try to get interested in his interests - watch football with him and ask questions - Edna has told me for years that she hates basketball - that it doesn't make sense to her, but this season she started watching games with me, and she has been asking questions - this is an awesome thing. Getting to share our loves with the one we love the most makes it more meaningful.
4. Let him be a leader - men are called by God to lead and when they are unable to do so, often resentment and bitterness creep in - but if you want a man to feel treasured let him lead, follow him whenever you can.

We often forget how important our marriages are in glorifying God. As we read in Eph 5:25 and 31
- Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, AND This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
- Treasuring our spouses is a living picture of how Jesus loved His bride the church. Marriage was created to reflect this love of Christ and when we have beautiful marriages it proclaims very loudly what it was meant to proclaim - that Jesus really loved His bride - the Church.

So take Valentine's Day in hand and use it to bless and treasure your spouse don't look at it as Extortion Day, but a day of proclaiming the Gospel in a really fun way.

PS - this post was wife approved.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fit for Heaven?

"But alas, how little fit for heaven are many who talk of 'going to heaven' when they die, while they manifestly have no saving faith, and no real acquaintance with Christ. You give Christ no honor here. You have no communion with Him. You do not love Him. Alas! what could you do in heaven? It would be no place for you. Its joys would be no joys for you. Its happiness would be a happiness into which you could not enter. Its employments would be a weariness and burden to your heart. Oh, repent and change before it be too late!"

J. C. Ryle, "Christ is All," in Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots (1877), cited in John Piper, God is the Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), 16.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Are You a Sower - Mark 4:1-20

Today I preached from Mark 4 and the parable of the soils and I thought it would make a good post so I thought that I would share my outline with you. I may do this more often in the future. But in this parable we have Jesus pointing to four heart responses to His Good News.

The Seed on the Road – The Hard Heart
- The seed sown on the road are those who have hard hearts
- They are not excused because the devil comes and steals away the word. He is able to steal it away because their hearts are so hard that the word had not taken any root.
- They simply do nothing with the message – so it is an easy theft.
- Many people with hard hearts are hard to recognize, often it is simple busyness, or it is false beliefs, or prejudices. But these hearts simply will not receive Jesus or His message.
- Yet we see that Jesus still sows the Word there.

The Seed on the Rocky Ground – The Shallow Heart
- Those on the rocky ground are a great deal more deceptive than the first ones.
- They actually seem to receive the word with joy, but they fall away at the first sign of trouble. They had nothing more than a shallow emotional response.
- Because they had no root in them – they were not indwelt by the Spirit, connected to Jesus, they had no grace, so when trouble came their lack of true resources was exposed.
- A true Christian is in the hand of Christ and will persevere through affliction.
- John 10:28 - I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. Or think about the Hosanna shouters that later shouted crucify Him.

The Seed among Thorns – The Worldly Heart
- This is the heart whose love for things crowds out any possibility of love for God.
- These are those who acknowledge the truthfulness of the gospel but who have no time for it, they say maybe later, or they simply are unable to let go of some pet sin.
- Look at what Jesus identifies as the thorns and I bet you can picture people and names – the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and desires for other things.
- James 4:4 - You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

The Seed on Good Soil – The Fruitful Heart
- But we come to a different kind of soil – notice what it was that makes these hearts good soil – they receive the word.
- It is not innate goodness or anything like that – it is not even basic morality – it is simply the willingness to receive.
- But these willing hearts become fruitful hearts. They bear the fruit of obedience and faithfulness. The fruit of a changed life. Think of the fruit of the spirit in Gal. 5:22.

What does all this mean for us?
- First - we must not prejudge the soil – Jesus sowed broadly into all kinds of soil seeking those who would receive the word – we must be willing to sow broadly as well. Not deciding which kind of person would be likely to receive the gospel – because we are usually wrong.
- Second - we must not forget that God is the one who gives the success. 1 Cor. 3:5-7 - What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. [6] I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. [7] So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
- Third – Sowers are not called to be successful but to be faithful. A successful sower is one who scatters the seed well. The grower and the harvester will attend to their jobs.

I don’t remember anyone sharing the Gospel with me until my sophomore year of college. I was 18 when I first heard the Gospel (John Lucas was actually the first person to ever invite me to church or share the Gospel with me, thank you for your faithfulness to the Gospel John). That is a sad thing that we cannot allow, I knew lots of Christians in High School and college, yet they did not share with me. We must be faithful sowers.