For The Truth

Monday, June 29, 2009

Upside Down and Turned Around, but Direction Corrected Again

We start every day with our agenda, and struggle through the day to keep the course. Events unfold to alter and derail our plans. Phone calls, e-mails, knocks on the door, the possibilities seem endless. This can be frustrating to say the least, and it is easy to resent interruptions. Today I set out with my agenda in hand, and as so often happens, the alterations began coming in. A question was posed by one in my congregation, a theological question, so I set aside my plans to leave for Lowe's early and made a course adjustment. Bags of sand, pebbles and rocks, and rolls of insulation as well as its installation would have to wait. I set out on this new course with an eye on the rolling clock, knowing time stands still for no man, hoping to return my ship to its course. While working on question one, number two (and #'s 3 & 4 even as I now write) appeared in my inbox. I delved into my books and language resources as I sought to give a clear and biblical answer, and as I was sending the second response out (I was able to work on both questions together and reply consecutively) I realized I was enjoying the task at hand. Then I realized: this is what pastoring is about, meeting the needs of the people God has entrusted to me, not sand, pebbles, and insulation. Oh, how easy we forget in the press of life what is truly most important. Jesus said feed my sheep, not fill my trench or organize my space. I am a pastor and a theologian, not a properties manger. The second might be necessary, but the first is absolutely essential to my calling. Thank you Lord for returning my focus to my first love in ministry; I pray that my brothers in the ministry will have that realization daily as we seek to feed your sheep.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SBC 2009 day 2b&c+

Things very often do not go as planned. Had lunch with my family at Bootleg Bar-B-Q (the food was excellent, I recommend the place) and then returned to the Convention Pastor's Conference in time to catch the last half of Fred Luter Jr's sermon. I would like to have heard the entire thing. Next we elected the officers for next years Pastor's Conference. i don't remember any of their names but I voted for the all. The afternoon was finished out with Mike Huckabee. He spoke about Abimelech the son of Gideon and applied it well to today. Not an expositional sermon but an excellent delivery just the same. Loved his green tie.

Had dinner with my family. It is always a joy to be with them. Returned to the conference in time to hear about half of Dr. Reid's sermon (maybe a little more), this is another sermon I was sad to have missed part of, but what I did get to hear was a blessing. Slipped out to get some info I needed for later in the evening with the intention of returning immediately so that I could hear David Platt; and based on the last 15 minutes of sermon I did hear, I would have to say he delivered the most powerful and most passionate sermon of the conference. I am glad he preached for an hour, otherwise I would have missed it entirely. But as I stated in the previous post, I ran into so many dear friends that I haven't seen for awhile that I would not trade the time. I stayed through all the singing this time and Johnny Hunt delivered a timely message that we Baptists needed to hear. Also, because of the challenge of David Platt and the previous challenge by Dr. Reid, the evening offering was collected toward the Lottie Moon Offering rather than next year's conference. Dr. Reid's challenge was that all those in Southern Baptist vocational work, from leadership, to professors, to pastors consider dedicating 1% of our paychecks to the Lottie Moon offering for International Missions.

After the evening session of the conference Nine Marks Ministries had a meeting titled 9Marks at 9. Mark Dever spoke followed by a panel discussion with Mark, David Platt, Michael McKinley, and Greg Gilbert. I went to the meeting uncertain of how i would exactly get back to my hotel (its only about a mile so I wasn't really worried), but I caught a ride with an old friend.

Now its time to go to bed.

SBC 2009 day 2a

T. C. and I got out early enough to catch Mike Landry's message. Mike preached from Jonah and challenged to not only to obey the Great Commission in deed, but to have a heart for the lost that desires and rejoices in their repentance and reconciliation to God. Went for coffee during the music; its not that it wasn't good, but coffee trumps music in my world. Came back in as Ed Stetzer was winding up. What a timely message, it was a timely continuation of Mac Brunson's message last night. Ed is not only a good preacher, but he has passion. If there was only one message so far I could get a copy of it would be this one. Wandered around a bit afterward, the plan was to come back so I could hear Francis Chan, I didn't make it though. I ran into so many old friends in the exibit area that although I really desired to hear brother Chan preach I wouln't trade the time. I was able to enjoy Shofar, a singing group from University of Mobile. They were very good. Wrapped up the morning with an excellent message about forgiveness by Tom Elliff. He described withholding forgiveness to taking poison that we have directed at someone else. It eats us from the inside causing damage to ourselves. He is so right. God has forgiven us much, we should be a people of forgiveness.

SBC 2009 day 1

I'm at the Southern Baptist Convention this week. We've had a wonderful trip thus far. Spent the first night on the rode in Wheeling , WV and them stopped by the petting zoo at the Creation Museum to see their new Zonkey and Zorse, on our way to Paris, Paris , KY that is. The kids enjoyed the zoo (as did the adults). My littlest got to feed and pet a Wallaby joey. Crash was the only one the pig would talk to. We stopped in Georgetown for the night continued on to Paris Sunday morning to Worship with Grace Alone Baptist Church. Brother Brown is pastor of a small family integrated church. He was preaching out of Philippians 1:19-21 and he can preach. Needless to say, we had a wonderful time of worship with them, then we fellowshiped over lunch and were off to Louisville. I have already seen a couple of old friends and am looking forward to seeing more of them.

Missed JD Greear's sermon. I really wanted to hear him. Mac Brunson challenged Southern Baptists to strive for greater harmony and to quit bickering and posturing over issues that we disagree on that need not divide us so that we will quit denying our witness to the world. They will know we have been with Him by the love we have for one another. The evening was brought to a close by Chuck Colson who challenging pastors to prepare their flocks for the upcoming persecutions teaching the faith clearly and its implications for our lives.

I look forward to what is in store for us today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Priority of Leadership Qualities

So much of leadership training is focused on administrative skills, knowledge of church constitutions, generating mission and vision statements, and the use of Robert's Rules of Order that one wonders what are the most important characteristics for leaders in the church. Admittedly I find church administrative and leadership books a dreadfully boring read. Something akin to eating dry toast covered with sand, but I honestly question the focus on these things, seemingly to the exclusion of weightier matters of doctrine and practice informed by biblical knowledge. Today's Tabletalk on "The Mystery of the Faith" continues a discussion of leadership qualifications by looking at 1 Timothy 3:9 and the importance of believing the Bible with a clear conscience. A right knowledge of theology is necessary for a clear conscience in the faith. The devotion closes with a quote from John Calvin, "'It would be exceedingly absurd to hold a public office in the Church, while they were ill-informed in the Christian faith, more especially since they must frequently be laid under the necessity of administering advice and consolation.' If you desire to be a deacon or other church leader, your primary concern should not be how to develop your administrative skills but rather your knowledge of the faith."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mercy and Justice

"It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf." --Thomas Paine

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Empathy vs. Justice

Writing in 1833 in his famous Commentaries on the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story explained that empathy is not the same as justice. Justice must be “freely, fully, and impartially administered.” Without impartial justice, “neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property, can be protected. And if these, or either of them, are regulated by no certain laws, and are subject to no certain principles, and are held by no certain tenure, and are redressed, when violated, by no certain remedies, society fails of all its value; and men may as well return to a state of savage and barbarous independence.”

You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
Leviticus 19:15 ESV

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A Study Guide for Mahaney's Humility

Dr. Michael Haykin, Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has compiled study questions for use with C. J. Mahaney's excellent book Humility: True Greatness. The Study Guide can be found here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ideas and Consequences

In this month's Acts & Facts Henry Morris III reminds us that, "All men and women have faith that their particular presuppositions provide an adequate basis for their actions and lifestyles." Summing up the article he further reminds us that:

Belief controls life. Ideas have consequences.
  • What you believe determines what you think.
  • What you think dictates what you do.
  • And what you do dominates your life.
It is in our fallen nature to struggle with the reality that there is an almighty and all-knowing holy God that we are accountable to. The symptom, not the cause, is a shift in our thinking from trusting the revealed Word of God as the absolute and inerrant source of truth from an unchanging God who cannot lie, to trusting in our own judgment over God's Word. The cause in this shift or symptom is simply that we do not believe what God has said. This is what was behind the sin in the garden and what is at the root of every transgression against God.

An excellent book to start you on your way to understanding ideas and their consequences is The Consequences of Ideas by R. C. Sproul. For further reading I recommend following Dr. Sproul's book with Revolutions in Worldview edited by W. Andrew Hoffecker.