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Archive for June, 2007

This morning about 6:30 a.m., we received a phone call to inform us that Toni Franz, the mother of Daniel Franz (our missions pastor) went on to be with her Lord. Daniel, Angela and the children have been in Cleveland and have had the privilege of spending the last days of Toni’s life with her. We grieve today with the Franz family and continue to lift them up in our prayers. We also rejoice with them because Toni knew Christ and was ready to meet Him face to face. We can learn much from Toni and other faithful saints who know and understand that to live is Christ but do die is gain.

In his book A Quest for Holiness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, J. I. Packer likens the Puritans to the tall Redwoods of California, saying, “As Redwoods attract the eye, because they overtop other trees, so the mature holiness and seasoned fortitude of the great Puritans shine before us as a kind of beacon light, overtopping the stature of the majority of Christians in most eras, . . .” (11).

One of the areas in which we can learn from the Puritans, suggests Packer, is in their view of life and death:

  • “The Puritans have taught me to see and feel the transitoriness of this life, to think of it, with all its richness, as essentially the gymnasium and dressing-room where we are prepared for heaven, and to regard readiness to die as the first step in learning to live. Here again is an historic Christian emphasis-Patristic, Medieval, Reformational, Puritan, Evangelical-with which the Protestantism that I know has largely lost touch. The Puritans experienced systematic persecution for their faith; what we today think of as comforts of home were unknown to them; their medicine and surgery were rudimentary; they had no aspirins, tranquillisers, sleeping tablets or anti-depressant pills, just as they had no social security or insurance; in a world in which more than half the adult population died young and more than half the children born died in infancy, disease, distress, discomfort, pain and death were their constant companions. They would have been lost had they not kept their eyes on heaven and known themselves as pilgrims travelling home to the Celestial City” (13-14).

Oh, may we learn to be pilgrims who are merely passing through this place until we arrive home in that Celestial City on the new earth and that “though our outerman is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weigh of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 5:16-18, ESV).

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From the Associated Press:

  • WASHINGTON – The Senate drove a stake Thursday through President Bush’s plan to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants, likely postponing major action on immigration until after the 2008 elections.

Read the rest of the story here, here and here.

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Go Gator!

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The Florida Gators have had much to cheer about over the last two years. At Thursday’s NBA draft, four of the starting five players on the double repeat championship team are expected to go in the first round, giving Florida Gators even more to cheer about. However, shooting guard Lee Humphrey, one of the Gator’s starting five, must await God’s direction for his basketball future. Read the BP story here.

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Justin Taylor has a special message from the folks at Desiring God regarding ordering books today and tomorrow.

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From Desiring God Blog:

  • Every book in our store will be $5 on June 27-28, Wednesday and Thursday next week.
    No limits, so spread the word.
    (This sale is online only.)

Update: Someone asked me for some Piper recommendations, so here is my Top 10 recommendations in alphabetical order.

1. Desiring God

2. Don’t Waste Your Life

3. Future Grace

4. God is the Gospel

5. A Hunger for God

6. Let the Nations Be Glad

7. The Pleasures of God

8. Taste and See

9. What Jesus Demands from the World

10. When I Don’t Desire God

11. (O.K. I couldn’t stop at 10) Any of his biographies in the Swans are Not Silent series

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Morris Chapman says:

  • Parenthetically, the matter of elders leading the church as officers is often discussed in association with Calvinism. The Baptist Faith and Message in Section VI. The Church, states, “Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.” Are they or are they not? If there is more than one interpretation concerning officers in the church, should not Southern Baptists make the decision on biblical grounds? They did so with the vote to adopt the original Baptist Faith and Message in 1925, and they did so the few times the BF&M has been revised. Why should the Convention’s churches and entities not see that statement as sufficient on the matter?

I am not sure why a church leadership structure that reflects Scripture (Acts 20; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1) is so controversial and threatening to SBC leadership.

Denny Burk has a great post on Morris Chapman’s comments regarding elder leadrship and the BF&M. Read it here. Dr. Chapman’s statement is ambiguous enough that I cannot say whether or not he is simply suggesting that Scripture does allow for elder leadership and so does the BF&M. I suppose this may be a generous reading of his comments.

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Post-Convention SBC News

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Morris Chapman Explains His Position on the BF&M

Morris Chapman, president of the Executive Committee of the SBC explains his position on the Baptist Faith & Message as a “sufficient” document here.

Dwight McKissic Resigns as Trustee of Southwestern Seminary

Pastor Dwight McKissic who ignited a controversy during a seminary chapel sermon over the practice of private prayer languages has resigned his trustee position. See story here and here.

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After a week of reflecting on the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, it became clear to me that what is taking place at the national level of the SBC is simply a macrocosm of what takes place at many local SBC churches.
As Southern Baptists, we strongly desire to reach all peoples with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is our mission, and we should take it seriously! However, after agreeing on this mission, much else seems to break down. Some Southern Baptists who genuinely desire to see people come to know Christ believe that if you simply lead people through a prayer that they are genuinely regenerate and are to be included in membership of SBC churches. This approach to evangelism, in my opinion, has been the majority trend in SBC churches and leadership. This approach to evangelism has also aided our fixation on numbers in the SBC: number of members, number of baptisms, number of people enrolled in Sunday school, numbers, numbers, numbers.
However, in spite of our “numbers,” there is frustration among Southern Baptists because we can only account for about 40% of our 16 million plus members. As a matter of fact, out of the 16 million plus members that the SBC boasts, less than 9,000 attended the SBC in San Antonio.
To address this discrepancy, some have suggested that we take church membership seriously. Rick Warren popularized membership covenants in his Purpose Driven Church; Matt Schmucker and Mark Dever at 9 Marks have been continually challenging Southern Baptists to reform our ecclesiology in general and church membership in particular; and Tom Ascol has attempted (to no avail) for the last two years to introduce a resolution on integrity in church membership at the SBC. Sadly, many of the efforts to recognize only a regenerate church membership are met with much disdain. Why? I believe the answer to this question gives us a clue to the woes of the SBC.
At the local level, various SBC churches who are genuinely zealous to see people come to faith in Chirst have purposely adopted a minimalist approach to doctrine and distinctives in order to reach as many people as possible. The immediate result may appear to be a larger crowd, but in the long run, it leaves the church powerless to impact culture and vulnerable to potential conflicts because once a church begins to address issues that move beyond the Trinity and the deity of Christ, you no longer have common ground.
I believe this is precisely what is taking place at the national level. In an effort to unite around the great commission, some Southern Baptist leaders have opted for a minimalist approach to doctrine and distinctives, and they are now reaping the powerlessness to impact culture (evidenced in lower baptisms and declining membership) and the potential division that arises from a minimalist approach to doctrine and distinctives because when you de-emphasize doctrine and distinctives what you actually end up with is a group of people who have their own doctrines and their own distinctives, resulting in their own competing agendas.
As Southern Baptists, we are at a crossroads to be sure. The question will be, which road will we take – continued minimalism or confessional conviction? We will need strong leadership that will help us discern which path will lead us in a God-honoring direction. Perhaps we should revisit our history as Southern Baptists? Perhaps it will be in our past that we will find some clues as to how to proceed in the future?
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Jeanine and I had an opportunity to attend the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) this week in San Antonio. We had a wonderful time seeing old friends and meeting new ones. It was a reminder of God’s special grace which He lavishes on us through life-long friendships.

Having been out of touch with the “inner-workings” of the SBC, it was also a time to be educated about some of the important issues in our convention. I am thankful for my friends who are committed to the convictions upon which our convention was founded and to integrity in how SBC ministries are carried out. There were two major thoughts that I came away with from the SBC:

1. We are a convention that stands at a crossroad and must decide what direction to take.

  • It became clear to me that much of the confusion occuring in the SBC stems from lack of clear direction and the existence of competing agendas. During the conservative resurgence the battle lines were clear. God, in His grace, led a group of men to stand for truth and win the battle for the authority of Scripture. It seems now, however, the battle lines are no longer clear, and as a result, Southern Baptists have fallen prey to the schemes of the devil to the degree that we are pointing our “guns” at one another. Consequently, it appears that some in the SBC leadership will be known not by what they stand for but by what they are against (i.e., Calvinism, elder leadership, private prayer languages, the emerging church, etc.).

2. We are in desperate need of godly leadership who will speak clearly and plainly about the issues before us and lead us in the right direction.

  • I thank God for Frank Page! He was a godly example at the SBC and provided the necessary leadership, pointing out how Christians are to relate to one another.
  • It will be important that we have leadership in the future that will continue to point out the fact that we are Christians first and foremost and that we must express our brotherhood in love. Further, we must work out our differences in love as well. I pray that God will raise up the right men who are absent of selfish ambitions and desire only to serve our Lord and give godly direction to our convention.

For other reports from the SBC, see below:

Baptist Press Summary

A challenge to the young men of the SBC

Did Baptist Moderates win in San Antonio

San Antonio and the Future of the SBC

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Ruth Graham Dies at 87

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Ruth Graham, wife of Dr. Billy Graham passed away today at the age of 87 years old. Read story here.

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