Archive for June, 2009
Thank you for all your prayers! We arrived safely in Cuba. We had an interesting journey, but I will have to post later. I have three minutes left on my internet card and I am racing against time.
We are in Santa Clara for the seminary graduation this evening. We will be here two nights, so I will be able to post later. Continue praying for us. We are all well.
As we prepare to travel to Cuba, I invite you to pray for us. There are seven people on our team, and our objective is to encourage the seminaries and the churches in the Western Baptist Convention.
We will have the privilege of participating in the graduation ceremony for the seminary in Santa Clara which we support. It will be a great joy to be with the church there again.
We will also have opportunity to visit the seminary in Havana and find out more about the works there. Because of the trip my blogging may be sporadic; however, on other occasions I have had opportunity to post. If so, then I will keep you posted on our trip.
The elders of High Pointe have graciously granted me a sabbatical during the month of July to allow me to focus on research and writing. Since some may not be familiar with the concept of a sabbatical, allow me to explain.
Sabbath simply means rest. We know rest is good because God rested on the seventh day after having created/worked the previous six. God blessed this seventh/Sabbath day and declared it holy (Genesis 2:2-3). The biblical idea of rest is connected with the thought that God invites us to join Him in rest. We enter that rest now by faith (Hebrews 4:1-5), but we are looking for a final Sabbath when we will enter into eternal rest with God (Hebrews 4:6-11).
Throughout the Bible, there have been copies and shadows that pointed forward to that final Sabbath rest. One such pointer was the sabbatical year in Leviticus 25. When Israel entered the land they were to cultivate it for six years, but on the seventh year the land was to receive rest from cultivation and sowing and pruning. This was the sabbatical year. It is this concept that informed the first sabbaticals.
Writing in the Journal of Higher Education in 1978, Bruce Kimball noted that the concept of the sabbatical year was first established by ten American universities in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the first one being Harvard University in 1880. From this early period, sabbaticals were utilized to “render the recipient more useful to the college.” They were seen as an investment by the college “to increase the efficiency of the teaching force.” The recipient of the sabbatical became more useful by being allowed to travel, research and write. This purpose remains today as evidenced by the Harvard School of Public Health’s definition of a sabbatical as “a leave for the purpose of engaging in research or other activities that will advance the faculty member’s scholarly achievement or that will enhance the reputation of or otherwise benefit the university.”
This understanding of sabbatical has been utilized in the church as well. Pastors who so desire are granted sabbatical leaves of varying lengths in order to travel, research, read and write. The purpose of my sabbatical is for the purpose of research and writing. I don’t have a book contract; I have a dissertation deadline. When I came to High Pointe in 2005 I had completed the first phase of my PhD program (course work). Since I have been here I have completed phases two (comprehensive exams) and three (approval of a topic/prospectus). I am now in my final phase (the dissertation). This phase requires that I provide ground-breaking research in my field of study (systematic theology with particular emphasis in ecclesiology: the doctrine of the church). For this reason, the elders have agreed to grant me the month of July to focus solely on research and writing. I ask that you pray with me that the Lord would multiply my time during these thirty days and allow me to bear much fruit toward my dissertation. My work will be intense, so my ability to focus on this project with undistracted devotion will be to great advantage. Thank you High Pointe! Thank you for your love for me and my family and your continual support and prayers. And thank you elders for this great gift.
On Tuesday evening, June 23, messengers representing Southern Baptist churches voted overwhelmingly (by 90% majority) to adopt the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR). This is good news for Southern Baptists and kingdom-mindedness within the SBC.
Many people think of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as a typical denomination. I suppose that it functions in many similar ways to a typical denomination, but the SBC is anything but typical. In most denominations there is a governing body which makes decisions that ripple through all the affiliated churches. Technically speaking, however, the Southern Baptist Convention only truly exists when messengers from cooperating Southern Baptist churches convene each June.
The day to day operations of Southern Baptists are conducted by the SBC executive committee based out of Nashville, TN. However, it is the local, autonomous (self-governing) churches that have the final say in the Southern Baptist Convention. Each SBC church is entitled to send messengers to the SBC who will communicate to all SBC entities and leaders how we want business conducted at the cooperative level. These messengers elect our convention officers and also elect trustees that will oversee our SBC entities (i.e., seminaries, International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, etc.). The messengers also may pass resolutions about how SBC churches as a whole feel about a particular issue; however, these resolutions are non-binding to the local churches because each church is autonomous.
Presently, just over 8,000 messengers from cooperating Southern Baptist churches have convened in Louisville, Kentucky for the annual meeting. You can get up to date reports on the Baptist Press blog.
I may be posting sporadically about any important news coming out of the convention. For now, the most important issue of debate is Johnny Hunt’s proposed Great Commission Resurgence, which was just presented for a motion by Albert Mohler, and which I think is a move in the right direction for the SBC.
Jeanine and I have had a wonderful time together in the Big Apple. We are more than ready to head home. We are awaiting our shuttle to the airport. Please pray for our safe travel today. We will get in fairly late this evening.
I look forward to providing some commentary on our trip in relation to Christ and Culture. I finished reading Don Carson’s book, Christ and Culture Revisited, and had plenty of opportunities to reflect on culture, primarily the arts and in particular music. As one who has an undergraduate in music, I have had some time to reflect upon music and culture over the weekend.
Jeanine and I had a wonderful celebration of her 40th birthday once we arrived in New York! It was a comedy of errors getting here, but once we arrived, we got checked in and took a cab to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill.
Our dinner was fabulous! We then walked from 17th Street all the way back to 55th, making sure we walked through Times Square in the midst of the lights.
We are having a wonderful time! We miss our High Pointe family and our girls.
The Lord was gracious and merciful to me in giving me Jeanine for a wife. On Friday, June 19, we will celebrate her 40th birthday in New York City – our favorite city to visit (key word-visit)! On June 29th we will celebrate 19 years of marriage.
It has been eight years since we have gotten away, just the two of us, for rest, enjoyment and much needed alone time. The last time we went off it was to New York City and Jeanine was pregnant with Zoe who is eight years old.
Now, eight years later, we are off again to the Big Apple. What a great joy to have a Proverbs 31 wife with whom I can laugh, and believe me, we laugh a lot together! I’ll try to update our trip via Twitter as we go.
Jeanine and I just had lunch with our two youngest: Zoe (8 yrs) and Maxey (6 yrs). As they were driving in Austin, the girls noticed the sign for Slaughter Lane. Here’s the conversation as reported by Jeanine:
Maxey – What is slaughter?
Zoe – It’s like if you take a block of cheese and cut it into lots of little pieces.
Maxey – Like 10?
Zoe – No, like lots more. That’s slaughter!
Maxey – That’s a gross name for a street.
Who says children can’t comprehend complex ideas. A child than can explain slaughter can certainly understand the holiness of a God whose wrath must be poured out on sin – either in Christ or in those who reject Christ.
May the Lord give us minds like children to comprehend His purposes and ways.