Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Southern Baptists move toward a Great Commission resurgence

Due to time and expense limitations I was unable to attend the SBC annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky this past week, but I monitored the proceedings from afar via the internet and press. I must say that what I’ve observed and heard from those who did attend is quite encouraging. One of the most encouraging things to come out of the meetings was the appointment of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. This is a team that will explore how to carry out and implement the ten axioms of the Great Commission Resurgence proposed by Dr. Danny Akin (Southeastern Seminary), Dr. Johnny Hunt (President of the SBC), and Dr. Al Mohler (Southern Seminary). The ten axioms, meant to rally Southern Baptist church together toward a “Great Commission resurgence” are:

1. We call upon all Southern Baptists to submit to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in all things at the personal, local church, and denominational levels (Col. 1:18; 3:16-17, 23-24).

2. We call upon all Southern Baptists to make the gospel of Jesus Christ central in our lives, our churches, and our convention ministries (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; 2 Cor. 5:17-21).

3. We call upon all Southern Baptists to recommit to the priority of the Great Commandments in every aspect of our lives and every priority we embrace as a network of local Baptist churches (Matt. 22:37-40).

4. We call upon all Southern Baptists to unite around a firm conviction in the full truthfulness and complete sufficiency of Christian Scripture in all matters of faith and practice (Matt 5:17-18; John 10:35; 17:17; 2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

5. We call upon all Southern Baptists to look to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a sufficient guide for building a theological consensus for partnership in the gospel, refusing to be sidetracked by theological agendas that distract us from our Lord’s Commission (1 Tim. 6:3-4).

6. We call upon all Southern Baptists to focus on building local churches that are thoroughly orthodox, distinctively Baptist, and passionately committed to the Great Commission (Matt. 16:13-20, 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-47; Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 5).

7. We call upon all Southern Baptists to affirm and expect a pastoral ministry that is characterized by faithful biblical preaching that teaches both the content of the Scriptures and the theology embedded in the Scriptures (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

8. We call upon all Southern Baptists to consider themselves and their churches to be missionaries in non-Christian cultures, each of which requires unique strategies and emphases if the gospel is to penetrate and saturate every community in North America (Phil. 2:1-5; 4:2-9).

9. We call upon all Southern Baptists, through our valued partnerships of SBC agencies, state conventions/institutions, and Baptist associations to evaluate our Convention structures and priorities so that we can maximize our energy and resources for the health of our local churches and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. This commitment recognizes the great strength of our partnership, which has been enabled by the Cooperative Program and enhanced by a belief that we can do more together than we can separately.

10. We call upon all Southern Baptists to build gospel-saturated homes that see children as a gift from God and as our first and primary mission field (Deut. 6:1-9; Psalm 127, 128; Eph. 6:4).

  • For more information on the Great Commission Resurgence go to the website HERE
  • You can also read from Professor Denny Burk (SBTS) more reasons for optimism about the SBC HERE
  • Watch video of Dr. Akin explaining and casting the vision for the Great Commission Resurgence HERE

Friday, June 26, 2009

How should Christians respond to Michael Jackson's death?

I'm sad for Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett but sadder still for the throngs of people who are worshipping these celebrities and others. Our society has become eerily like the Romans who worshipped their emperor almost as much as their celebrities in the Colosseum. How should Christians be reacting right now to the startling news of Michael Jackson's sudden death? It is easy to mock and joke about the bizarre and tragic life of the self-proclaimed "king of pop" but is that really edifying?

Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." How can our words in this moment "give grace to those who hear"? Let me make a few suggestions...

1. Say that Michael Jackson was created for God's glory and not his own.

2. Say that what kept Michael Jackson from enjoying and glorifying God most fully is the same thing that keeps all of us from it- sin.

3. Say that the various sins Michael Jackson is known for are the product of a sinful condition we're all born with and need rescuing from.

4. Say that Michael Jackson's money, fame, fan adoration, or cult status could not rescue him and that the world offers nothing to satisfy the spiritual need we all have.

5. Say that Michael Jackson is not great but God is great and knowing greatness is in knowing God.

6. Say that Michael Jackson may have proclaimed himself "king of pop" but he along with everyone else who ever lived will bow the knee to the True King.

7. Say that wishing Michael Jackson rest in peace is not the same as truly knowing peace which can only be found in the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

8. Say that no man- not even Michael Jackson- is beyond redemption if he repents from self-rule and has faith in Christ's rule.

9. Say that celebrity worship is idolatry and God will allow no rivals- He alone is worthy of worship.

10. Say that Michael Jackson's death is a reminder that life is a vapor and do not waste the time that has been given by God's grace for God's glory.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The false teaching of the "Prosperity Gospel"

Many unbelievers have a confused understanding of Christianity. They view us not unlike every other major world religion. If you submit to a moral code (for Christians that code is found in the Bible- especially the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus) God will show you favor. They see us as hypocrites who legalize this moral code but do not often follow it. Heaven is for those who have earned happiness because of their goodness and Hell (if they believe it exists at all) is for those who live un-humanly- that is to say, who exhibit evil behavior against others. This gross misunderstanding of Christianity and the gospel is perpetuated by the false preaching that is heralded by so many pulpits and through so many lifestyles. It is the heralding of the “prosperity gospel” which is no gospel at all and has further distracted people from the true gospel. Here is a poignant video that rebukes this false teaching.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Men with Faith-Driven Courage

Hanun of the Ammonites was trying to make his bones on the world stage by picking a fight with the new king of Israel. That king was David. He responded by mustering his soldiers for battle. The king was prepared for all attackers and would not back down. Being the shepherd-king of Israel was David's charge to keep and no pagan prince would intimidate him away. Joab was David's lead general. It was his responsibility to lead the army- his and his brother Abishai's. Hanun had recruited Aramean mercenaries to join the Ammonite army in attacking the Israelites so Joab set his fighting force against the Arameans and put Abishai's soldiers against the Ammonites. They quickly found themselves outnumbered and outflanked.

In the midst of the battle Joab set forth a determined battle plan but a plan that relied on faith in a great God. He said to Abishai, "If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the sons of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come to help you. Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what it good in His sight". They fought tooth and nail until the Lord gave Israel the victory. I love this story. The resolution. The courage. The faith. The greatness of God. The pages of the Bible are full of stories like this. There was nothing particularly extraordinary about Joab or Abishai- except their faith. The power and the victory is God's.

This story came to my mind as I was told of yet another man in our church who used to attend but "dropped out" because he got his feelings ruffled. It grieves me heavily when men of God cower and disappear because another person intimidated them away. In many case it isn't even intimidation that causes the spiritual leaders of the church to abdicate their responsibilities. Often it is just a matter of pride. We men need to muster the courage that we see in Scripture- a faith-driven courage. We've been given a charge to keep as leaders of our homes and the local church. Let us not find excuses for "Hanuns" to scare us off our post and let us not put our pride and egos above obedience to our great God.

Friday, June 19, 2009

On the Lighter Side...

For all those who feel incompetent or intimidated by sharing the gospel this is for you.
Aren't you thankful we have the Holy Spirit to empower us in those moments?!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

On the death of a Fly...

  • On June 16, 2009 a tiny house fly was carelessly executed at the White House (actually the White House will neither confirm nor deny the medical status of said fly).

  • President Obama took office on January 20, 2009. He's been in office 150 days today.

  • Approximately 3,700 little humans are murdered through abortions every day.

  • So doing a little math, approximately 555,000 babies have been aborted during the current administration.

  • Of the more than half-million little Americans it is worth noting that African-American women are 3x's more likely to have an abortion. Since 1973 more than 13 million African-American babies have been aborted. We rejoice that the color barrier on the American Presidency has been broken (rightfully) while genocide is being legally carried out on the African-American population of this country.

  • 93% of abortions are for social reasons such as the parent not wanting the child or the child being an inconvenience. 92% of babies that are discovered prenatally to have Down Syndrome are aborted. You see it is all in keeping with the "survival of the fittest" mentality. This shouldn't be surprising... Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood (largest abortion provider in the country) also initiated the "Negro Project" in the 1930's to reduce the number of black children. Today 78% of Planned Parenthood's abortion clinics are in neighborhoods primarily populated by ethnic minorities. Coincidence? No.

  • Yet with over half a million babies aborted in the last 150 days the more newsworthy story is a fly getting swatted in the Oval Office.

Source for abortion statistics: Abortion NO, Abort '73, Black Genocide, and Science Blogs.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Membership has its Privileges... and Responsibilities!

Over the next couple weeks I'll be conducting three or four membership interviews. This is where I screen membership candidates to be certain they are regenerate, agree on basic doctrines, affirm the Church Covenant, and understand what church membership is all about.

So just for clarity I thought I'd recap here (primarily for my fellow church members) what the responsibilities and privileges of church membership are (at least as it pertains to our local congregation). I've been encouraged by the writings of Mark Dever and Thabiti Anyabwile on this subject and have incorporated some of their phrasing into my own.

What are the responsibilities of church membership?
1. A church member attends regularly as is physically possible (Hebrews 10:24-25).
2. A church member pursues peace at home and in the congregation (Romans 14:19).
3. A church member edifies and serves others (Ephesians 4:11-16).
4. A church member speaks truth in love to others (Galatians 6:1-2).
5. A church member is patient and pursues reconcilliation (Matthew 5:23-24).
6. A church member participates in the ordinances of baptism and communion (Acts 2:41a; 1 Corinthians 11:26).
7. A church member supports the mission and ministry of the church (Romans 12:6-8).

What are the privileges of church membership?
1. A church member is able to serve in leadership in the ministry of the church.
2. A church member is able to vote in the decisions of the church.
3. A church member is able to receive special care and accountability by the church.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rio Grande Valley Mission Trip 2009- Report

We had a wonderful trip last week and I want to thank all the "senders". After an eight-hour drive our team met with the host church for a dedication and prayer service. This was a special time of fellowship and worship. Monday through Thursday we led a Bible school for the children in the Rangerville/ San Benito community. Over the course of the week we had just over 60 children to minister to- many being "bussed-in" from Harlingen.

Several of the members of Rangerville Baptist Church jumped right in and worked alongside our team members. This was great because they'll be the ones following-up on the children and their families as they continue the ministry there. During the morning we did work projects for the church- everything from painting to chain-sawing trees (downed by Hurricane Dolly in '08). I know of three children for certain that came to a saving knowledge of God's grace and opened their hearts to Jesus- hallelujah! We counseled with many more and many seeds were planted.

Aside from the mission work we had two opportunities to rest and sight-see. The beach was nearby so we took a couple hours to get away, get some ice cream, and catch some waves (or rays)! We also went down the road to the Marine Academy and Iwo Jima Memorial. The original monument (replicated in D.C.) is in Harlingen- it was humbling to be reminded of the great sacrifice so many American soldiers made for our freedoms. Of course our whole mission trip was about honoring the greatest sacrifice- that of Jesus Christ on the cross- to purchase everlasting freedom in God!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rio Grande Valley Mission Trip 2009

This Sunday around 7am our mission team will be driving only eight hours away to the Rio Grande Valley for a mission trip. We'll be partnering with Rangerville Baptist Church (pastor- David Mann) to spread the gospel and build up the church in a rural community south of Harlingen, TX on the border. I'll post a report once we get back and after I catch up on some sleep, but here is how you can pray during the week. Pray that...

1. Hearts would be softened and prepared to hear and respond to the gospel
2. The relationship of Rangerville BC and the community would be strengthened for their ongoing work
3. Our team would be encouraging and helpful to one another- especially with our words
4. Our team would have sacrificial and determined spirits (when difficulties come)
5. Pastor David Mann would be uplifted by the partnership
6. Protection against poor health and injury
7. We could get God's Word in homes where it is not already (over 200 Bible have been provided by the Gideon's!)
8. The home repair and yard work projects would create opportunities for spiritual ministry
9. We would not be proud and get our rest when the opportunity is provided
10. Our vehicles would run well so not to hinder the mission work
11. God- not any group of people- would be most glorified!
12. I would be an encouraging pastor

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

With much excitement I present the first pictures of our not-yet-born baby. Okay, so looking at these pictures is sort of like a Rorschach ink-blot test, but it is a whole lot cooler. God is so amazing!

(Going clockwise from the top left we have the face/profile, the face looking at you, the spine, and then the heartbeat read-out.)

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." Psalm 139:13-16