Monday, December 31, 2007
Many people use this time of year to reflect upon the past year, and sometimes their entire lives. John Piper considers it a yearly dress rehearsal for meeting Jesus. Therefore, this time of year can serve to awaken us to a realization of another year passed and another moment closer to meeting the Lord. Pyromaniacs use the last words of Benazir Bhutto to remind us of the frailty of life. How ironic that her last words were "Long live Bhutto". As this year draws to an end we must remember that the only way to accurately proclaim "Long live..." is to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Last night Tim Challies summarized the Reality Check Conference. He concluded his blogging on sessions 6 and 7.
Timmy Brister concluded his 2007 Year in Review with post 10-6 and 5-1. One of these posts that particularly caught my interest was On Hitting Homiletical Homeruns. The conversation was also carried over at Said at Southern, here. The discussion is over plagiarism in the pulpit. The discussion began when James Merritt suggested going to his website and preaching his sermon instead of spending so much time putting together their own. This is not an uncommon thing. I frequently get fliers in the mail encouraging me to stop preparing sermons and do what really matters (and apparently what I should really want to do)--spend time with our youth. I wonder if this might be an unbiblical practice on top of another (shout out to Garrett). I wonder if we had a plurality of elders maybe a teaching pastor could spend time on sermon prep and the other elders could do some of those other things. Maybe the pastor was not meant to be the lone ranger and having to rip sermons off the internet because he spent 30 hours this week at the hospital and in counseling.
The 9 Marks newsletter has been posted online. This newsletter focuses on Corporate Prayer and will be worthy of checking out.
John Piper points us to Clyde Kilby's 10 Resolutions for Mental Health.
Lastly, the Irish Calvinist draws our attention to a video posted on James White's site. It compares Joel Osteen, The Secret, and Stuart Smalley. It would be humorous if Osteen did not boast 20,000+ deceived members. The reason I am so strongly opposed to Osteen is because he is a false prophet that deceives many. He preaches a half (maybe quarter) truth that is divorced from the bloody Cross of the Gospel. The problem is not that God doesn't want to bless us. The problem is that the blessing is not in material things it is in God Himself, and it comes through the Cross. Not only the Cross of Christ but also ours (Matthew 10:38). Here is the video:
Sunday, December 30, 2007
The first part of January saw us finish a sermon series on Hosea. We finished off January by looking at Fad Jesus. We were introduced to Superhero "Jesus", Cool "Jesus", Homeboy "Jesus", and South Park "Jesus". All of these, as we noted, fall well short of the biblical Jesus. We also had a lock-in at the beginning of the new year.
February was given to relationships. Nikki and I told our story. We also gave some advice on "dating" and laid out for the youth biblical courtship. During the month of February we also had Soup-er Bowl Sunday.
In March we began a 17 week series on Philippians: Advancing the Gospel. This series lasted until June 27th. (It is my hope to put this entire series, as well as a series on 1 John, available online). During this time we celebrated graduated with our seniors. We held "revival" at our church in March. We went on a mission trip to Columbia to help plant Heritage Baptist Church.
Also, as soon as the school semester was over we began our Ministers In Training program. This lasted throughout the summer. We also went to Six Flags in June (or maybe August, I forget)
July was an extremely busy month. We had 4th of July missions, church camp, and VBS. During VBS week we looked at 5 Dangers. Also in July we had Youth Wednesday. That week we were honored to have Ryan Lake preach the message and our youth praise band led the worship.
The first weekend in August we held our second-annual Evangelism Seminar. This year we looked at Evangelism in a Postmodern World. August was actually dedicated to teaching on evangelism. Our sermons for August were geared toward preparing the students to enter their mission field at school.
In September we began a sermon series on the Minor Prophets. The series lasted until last week, when we summarized all of the messages by telling of the Promised King. Each week was an overview sermon on each of the 12 Minor Prophets. As far as activities during this time we were relatively inactive, except the occasional FCA.
These are a few of the highlights of the year for us. Each of these activities and sermons carry memories for me. Some of the messages were used by God to bring salvation to some of our students. We were encouraged by having a few baptisms of our youth this year. Also the number of students involved in Ministers in Training was highly encouraging. Many students also grew deeper in their enjoyment and love for Christ.
2007 was a good year and God blessed us in numerous ways. If I forgot something (like the making of a few of our short films) then please share some of your memories of 2007. My prayer for this year is that we might deepen in our love for Christ. I also am praying that our passion for serving the King might ever-increase.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Tim Challies is attending the Reality Check Conference (sponsored by Anchored in Truth Ministries) and blogging after the sessions. So far he has posted on Session 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Sounds like some really great Christ-centered preaching and teaching at this conference. This would be a good conference to take our young people to next year.
Timmy Brister continues his year in review--today is 15-11.
And lastly, as I post this, the Patriots are set to play the Giants in hopes of going 16-0. Tom Ascol reminds us to be praying for Tom Brady tonight as we watch this game.
Tomorrow (or possibly late tonight) I will be posting a 2007 at FBC New London Year in Review.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Timmy Brister also is continuing his "Best of 2007" series. Today we are treated to 20-16.
Erik Raymond, the Irish Calvinist, heard an excellent sermon this morning...from a bird. What an excellent reminder that all creation (in some way) preaches the gospel to us. What was the bird's sermon? It appears that he chose for his text Romans 8:18-22. His main point? Raymond says, "It is as if this bird said, “Whoa, son of Adam! That is far enough! Don’t you come running up here on me with that evil, perverted, and contrary heart of yours! Do you not know that that which gives you life is the cause of death in all of the earth!! Your heart is more deceitful than anything else!!” This is an excellent gospel-centered post that you are encouraged to check out.
Josh Harris has given us Part 5 and 6 to his series on Affluenza.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I am hoping to complete this sermon series in the 5 weeks in January. On February 6th I will be out of town and Chris Kuenzle will be preaching instead. With Isaiah's due date being January 7th it is possible that I will miss a Wednesday night, then the final sermon would be pushed back to February 13th.
The sermon series will be thus:
Sermon One: The Gospel is Meant to be Enjoyed
Sermon Two: The Impossible Burden of Legalism
Sermon Three: The Suicidal Exchange of Licentiousness
Sermon Four: The All-Sufficiency of the Christ and His Cross
Sermon Five: John Newton: An Example of Enjoying Grace
Randy Alcorn has responded to journalist Joel Stein's column on Heaven. Apparently after a Stein quote on heaven graced cups at Starbucks some Christians became angered (mostly at Starbucks not at Stein). They sent him e-mail's, letters, and Alcorn's book. This led to a conversation between Alcorn and Stein. On the 21st Stein briefly wrote on this encounter. You can read Stein's article here, or Alcorn's response here. I must say that I do have a tremendous amount of respect for Randy Alcorn; but I have to disagree with the way he closed this article. "And maybe someday, after the resurrection, when we’re enjoying God and each other on the New Earth, Joel and Shelly and I and Andy Pettitte, and maybe Jesus too, will reflect on this column as, wind blowing through our hair, we ride the back of a brontosaurus...to the glory of God."
I have not read all of Alcorn's book and I certainly am no expert on heaven. But my understanding is that heaven will be an enjoyment of God Himself and not so much his gifts. To me riding the back of a brontosaurus seems to cheapen the worth of Jesus. I know that telling an unbeliever that heaven is an eternal enjoyment of Jesus would seem strange and probably not appealing. And I fear that in order to make the rewards of heaven appealing we have made it about playing baseball, riding roller-coasters, and eating more ice cream flavors than Baskin Robbins. I see two problems with this line of thinking. 1) It communicates that Jesus is not a sufficient enjoyment for heaven--so we need other things. 2) If the unbeliever is "won-over" by the prospect of hitting a home-run off Andy Pettite as heaven, then can we really say that he sufficiently sees Jesus as a treasure?
Perhaps my line of reasoning is faulty; and if I so I welcome correction. I tend to get more excited about heaven not in thinking about riding a brontosaurus but in thinking about Sam Storms depiction of an eternal enjoyment of Jesus.
This has very little to do with blogworld but I have to mention that Sunday nights game between the Colts and Titans is huge if you are a Browns fan. Because they stunk worse than a wet dog rolling in stink bait, they are no longer in control of whether or not they make the playoffs. So if the Brownies are going to make the playoffs (despite a possible 10-6) record they have to have the Titans lose. Looks like their season rests on the shoulders of Jim Sorgi (because Manning will sit at least a half). Why is it never simple for Cleveland fans?
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
It appears that what Burroughs is attempting to drive deep into our hearts is the notion that our sin before a holy God is so vile and treacherous that any ill situation is fitting. Contentment, it would appear, comes from realizing that every blessing is far better than we deserve. With a mind framed like this a man will quickly become contented. When we realize that we should have been cast into hell a thousand yesterdays ago we quickly feel our blessed estate. Burroughs challenges us to look at our broken estate and come away with a broken heart towards God as well.
This will sound like strange counsel to our 21st century ears. We are told quite the opposite. The prosperity gospel would have none of this teaching. If I am experiencing a trial then it can be directly linked to my lack of faith, says the prosperity teacher. If I would but believe harder and give more then God will pull me out of this mire due to my sin. Burroughs is telling the prosperity teacher that our redemption is enough. The Cross of Christ rescuing us from the burden of sin is all the prosperity that we need. When we feel the burden of our sin, and when the Lord graciously lifts it off, we will experience contentment.
This message will likewise sound foreign to the easy-believism of the 21st century. Simply pray this prayer and God will forgive you, only be sincere, is the cry of the proponents of cheap grace. An adherent to easy-believism will seldom be content when trials come. When the scorching sun comes they will wither away. He has never felt the burden of his sin. The roots of the gospel has never gone deep. He only considers Jesus as a band-aid or a get out of hell free card. The true offensiveness of himself and utter ruin he faces are blind from his sight. He was told to pray a prayer but never to feel the painful burden of sin. Burroughs is admonishing easy-believers to look to their sin. When they sense their utter depravity and hopelessness before God; and when they are opened to see the total justification of Christ; then, and only then, will they find contentment. The Cross is enough!
Biographical books are usually easier to read and I go through them faster. So, I will have 8 or 10 of those. Devotional books are what I consider "Christian Living" books, these usually are not difficult to read but if they are to sink deep they would require a little time to chew on. Therefore, I will have about 6 to 8 of these. Theological books are very meaty and take a long time to read and chew on. They are usually longer in length. I will attempt to read 3 or 4 of these. Puritans are sometimes tough to read; sometimes easy to read; sometimes nearly impossible to read; all the while extremely worthwhile to read. I have a lofty goal this year of reading 12 Puritan Paperbacks (usually about 150-200 pages). Pastoral works usually need to be read over a few times and spaced out over time to process everything. I will attempt to read 5 or 6 of these this year.
Also, some of the books are a continuance from this year.
Finish Letters of Samuel Rutherford
The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson
- A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine
- The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins
- Learning in Christ's School by Ralph Venning
- The Christian's Great Interest by William Guthrie
- The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton
The Godly Man's Pictrue by Thomas Watson
- Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices by Thomas Brooks
Gospel Fear by Jeremiah Burroughs
- The Acceptable Sacrifice by John Bunyan
- The Anatomy of Secret Sins by Obadiah Sedgwick
- Christ's Last Disclosure of Himself by William Greenhill
The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel
Finish A Pastor's Sketches by Ichabod Spencer
Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore
- Foundations of Grace (Vol. 1) by Steven Lawson
- 2000 Years of Christ Power by N.R. Needham
Jonathan Edwards: Evangelist by John Gerstner
- Welsey and the Men Who Followed by Iain Murray
John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken The Rise and Fall of the English Puritans by John Brown
- Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland
- By His Grace and For His Glory by Tom Nettles
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever
- Preaching Christ from All of Scripture by Edmund Clowney
The Cross and Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson
- Basic Greek and Exegesis by Richard Ramsay
- The Christian Pastor's Manual compiled by John Brown
- Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell (Re-Read)
- Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
- For Us and Our Salvation by Stephen Nichols
- When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey
The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott Humility by C.J. Mahaney
- Loved by God by R.C. Sproul
- What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper
The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges
Theological:Finish Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos
- Early Christian Doctrines by J.N.D. Kelley
- God's Passion for His Glory by John Piper
- The Justification of God by John Piper
- A New Testament Theology by George Ladd
- An Old Testament Theology by Bruce Waltke
Last time we saw what Mortification is NOT. This time Owen will begin showing us what mortification is. Remember Owen's central question in this section: "What must I do to mortify sin in my life?". Today we will see three things that mortification of sin consists of.
- Mortification of sin consists of a habitual weakening of sin
- Mortification of sin consists of a constant fighting and contending against sin
- Mortification of sin consists of frequent success
As a man nailed to the cross he first struggles and strives and cries out with great strength and might, but, as his blood and spirits waste, his strivings are faint and seldom, his cries low and hoarse, scarce to be heard; when a man first sets on a lust or distemper, to deal with it, it struggles with great violence to break loose; it cries with earnestness and impatience to be satisfied and relieved; but when by mortification the blood and spirits of it are let out, it moves seldom and faintly, cries sparingly, and is scarce heard in the heart; it may have sometimes a dying pang, that makes an appearance of great vigor and strength, but it is quickly over, especially if it be kept from considerable success.Owen also helps us see two things under this point. 1) Some lusts are stronger in some people than in others. For example, one man might struggle mightily with lust and not be tempted by alcohol. Another man may be just the opposite. 2) Some lusts are more visible in their vileness. Fornication is particularly noteworthy here. This often can lead men to believe they are mortified when they are not. This is why Owen advises: A man may beat down the bitter fruit from an evil tree until he is weary; while the root abides in strength and vigor, the beating down of the present fruit will not hinder it from bringing forth more. This is the folly of some men; they set themselves with all earnestness and diligence against the appearing eruption of lust, but, leaving the principle and root untouched, perhaps unsearched out, they make but little or no progress in this work of mortification.
Owen closes the chapter by giving us a foretaste (hopefully) of what is to come. He mentions briefly two things that must be in order for mortification to take place. 1) The flesh must be replaced by grace. Pride must be replaced by the grace of humility; unbridled passion by patience; love of the world by heavenly mindedness; and so on. Or, if we want to get Piper-esque we would say that to mortify flesh then our sinful passions must be replaced by a superior passion (pleasure) for Christ. 2) The new man combined with the work of the Spirit using the means of mortification are necessary. (At least that is what I think Owen is saying).
As I read Owen and ponder my own battle with sin I find mixed thoughts. On one hand I see how the Lord's grace in my life has created in me more Christ-likeness and a passion for Jesus. On the other hand I see less of a battle with sin. I wonder is it because I find more pleasure in Christ or because I am no longer passionate about rooting all sin out? Am I as passionate about holiness as I once had been? Regardless of the answer my prayer is that Jesus might take me to the root of all my sinful rebellion and there through his sacrifice we might chop down the roots. I pray that my roots may be deep not in sin but in grace!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Some that saw Tom Brady's interview on 60 Minutes have commented on his need to hear the gospel. In the interview Brady comments on his lack of fulfillment: "it's got to be more than this". Tom Ascol at Founders shares what he would say to Tom Brady, "Your Questions Have Answers". I am far from a Tom Brady fan but excited to hear that perhaps God is showing him the emptiness of everything but Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that not only Brady, but also a host of other's that seemingly have everything, might feel their emptiness and turn to Christ.
John Piper tells us a Kind of Christmas Tale. Timmy Brister has several Christmas poems at his site.
Mark Driscoll has a new video out on the importance of biographies. As one that attempts to read a biography per month, I must also recommend to you reading good Christian biographies. I have learned a ton by looking at the lives of these men and women of God; apparently Driscoll has too. (HT: Intersection)
Does the world really like Jesus but hate the church? Dan Phillips has an answer. His take is that the world likes "Jesus", but the world hates Jesus. A few months ago we did a series on "Fad Jesus". "Fad Jesus" has never been cooler; but hopefully the church does not sell out to Fad Jesus for the sake of relevance. Men like Dan Phillips are helping the church love the true Jesus and forsake "Jesus".
Thoughts on the Way gives us a Christmas Eve reminder of the upcoming McCheyne Reading Plan starting on January 1st. I would really like to encourage our youth to take this "challenge" for the upcoming year.
That's it for today, I will be back to posting on Wednesday! Have a Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 21, 2007
John Piper reminds us that today is the 200th anniversary of John Newton's death. If you want to read Piper's biography on Newton you can do so here, or you can buy Josiah Bull's excellent work The Life of John Newton, or if you are feeling really saucy you can buy his Complete Works for only $127. You can read his letters for free at Grace Gems and his Olney Hymns for free at CCEL. Ever minute and every dollar you spend getting to know this man of God is well spent.
Old Truth sounds like John Piper today: Worship, Not Evangelism, The Most Important Task. Piper says that Missions exists because worship does not. This article echoes that sentiment as it points us to a quote from Robert Reymond's New Systematic Theology. His central thesis is this: For decades now evangelical churches have been conducting their services for the sake of unbelievers. Both the revivalistic service of a previous generation and the "seeker service" of today are shaped by the same concern--appeal to the unchurched. Not surprisingly, in neither case does much that might be called worship by Christians occur. As a result, many evangelicals who have been sitting for years in such worship services are finding their souls drying up, and they have begun to long for something else.
Yesterday it was announced that Alex and Bret Harris will be releasing their new book, Do Hard Things, in April. Right now it is retailing for 16.99. I am hoping it is discounted quickly, I would love to do a small group on this book in youth group! (HT: JT)
Many in academia are calling for young pastors that adhere to the doctrines of grace (Calvinistic) to be upfront and lay all their cards on the table. As you read the comments on Founders you will notice that some agree with this (as an issue of integrity) and others find it unfair. I am unsure of where I fall on this and am encouraging my readers to help me work through this issue (I know some of you are Calvinists and some of you are not).
As I am looking back I am wondering whether or not I would have been hired if I would have said upfront that I was a Calvinist. For one I was not nearly as established in the doctrines of grace as I am now. For two I know some of those on the search committee had (and maybe even to this day still have) a very vague understanding of what Calvinism is. I also know that many have false caricatures of what Calvinist actually believe and how a biblical Calvinist would actually engage people with the gospel. It appears to me that what people often reject is Hyper-Calvinism. Therefore, I wonder if all of the work that we have seen God do for the past 4 years would have been quenched from the beginning because I was a Calvinist. As soon as I stated what I believed about the Doctrines of Grace would I have been caricatured?
My stance has been to preach the gospel and to preach the word of God expositionally. If the doctrines of grace come out of the text then I will preach that. If the doctrines of grace are not in the text then I will never force it. My hope has been to be as biblical as possible in my life, practice, and ministry. Most people do not even know that I am a Calvinist. Does this make me dishonest? Many probably assume that I am a pre-tribulational pre-millenialist too. Should I have been upfront about that? Also my views have changed through the years on a few issues as well. What I might have said I believed in my interview I would disagree with now. To me "laying all your cards" on the table does not give room for growth for me (the minister) or for the congregation.
One of the funniest things that I remember was a conversation I had with a man in our church a couple of years ago. We were talking about some of the authors that we both enjoyed reading, as well as some of the Christian artists we loved to listen to. One of the bands that we were talking about we were discussing whether or not they are Calvinist, because they had cited John Piper as an influence. The guy I was speaking to began talking about all of the things he saw wrong with Calvinism. Their anti-evangelism, etc. All of the typical caricatures. Knowing my evangelistic zeal and passion to share the gospel, this man was floored when I told him that I too was a Calvinist. We did not get into a discussion on the theology of it, but by looking at my life and witness he saw that Calvinism does not necessarily lead to all of those horrible caricatures. (Thankfully, he could not smell the pride that emanated from me in my early caged-Calvinist days). So, my question to you is this: Am I deceptive for not sharing with our congregation that I am a Calvinist? Should I be upfront even if people do not ask? Is it right for me to make an issue of it? Or, is it a better approach to preach expositionally and only address the issue when they come up? What do you think?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The sermon is in only a little better than outline form, but you can find it here. Simeon knew that he held in his arms the Promised King. As the holiday season approaches we too must see Jesus as the Promised King.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:25-35)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Of all the books I have read one of the most frustrating has to be Frank Page's Trouble with the Tulip. Of all the articles I have read one of the most encouraging has been Frank's Page's recent article in the Baptist Press: Calvinism and Southern Baptists. (HT: Founders) Page will be the first to admit that he is not a Calvinist. In fact he believes it is a manmade doctrine. He is cited in his Tulip book as saying, "It is also important to remember that man-made doctrines always hurt God's work" (74). Also he believes that, "manmade doctrines always give way to God's Word" (75). Yet in all of this Page also says, "Most everyone who knows me knows that I am not a Calvinist. However, I have made it clear that I would be fair to those who are Calvinists in appointments in our convention. I have been true to my word. I believe that the issue of Calvinism is one that can be discussed within the family of Southern Baptists. I believe we need to have honest, open dialogue." Although I must question why a man, convinced that Calvinists hinder God's work and give way to God's Word, would appoint them to important posts in the Convention. I still respect his willingness to be open and to dialogue. I praise God for this and pray along with Page that we might have a Christ-like spirit and be diligent in our studies.
Do you ever wonder what the answer to church-wide immorality is? Brian Thornton offers a suggestion. His answer? Simple. Regeneration. Thornton also gives 9 suggestions for combating church-wide-immorality. Of his 9 suggestions one I especially like is #4, "Teach kids the same things as the adults". One that I might have worded differently is #7, where he suggest making the center of our worship the Word and Sacraments. I know that by making Word capital he is pointing us to Jesus, but I would have worded it a little differently. My suggestion: "make the Triune God as revealed in the Scriptures and displayed in the Sacraments the center of our worship".
Also today, Josh Harris continues his study on Affluenza, we are now on Part 4.
That's it so far today.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
When our primary motivation for preaching Christ becomes something other than His glory we get ourselves into many troubles. There are many secondary desires for preaching Christ that are right and good, but when elevated to the place of primary they become deadly. A prime example of this is "winning souls". If our prime motivation is to see people saved, then typically whatever we do to achieve this goal is justifiable. "If it reaches one soul then it was worth it". Therefore, we are taught to waver on unbiblical practices simply because it "won a soul".
Imagine this situation. A large group of teenagers are drawn to an event by motorcycles, appealing music, drama, food, and other teenagers. After a couple hours of cool motorcycle tricks and funny drama we hear a brief sermon. It does have a few Bible verses and a young man tells of how Jesus has changed his life. We are not told much about God. We are told even less about sin. We are certainly not told of what God requires of us. The "gospel" presentation is watered down at best. Then an invitation is given. Scores of students "come forward" to accept Jesus. They are prayed for and then they meet with counselors for about 15 minutes. During this time the counselors try to discern whether or not they are sincere in their "decision". They get some information, call them saved (so long as they are sincere and can repeat a prayer and nod their head at the right time, of course), and then send them back to their home church to get baptized.
Whether you believe that using motorcycles, drama, etc. in church is biblical or not is actually not the greater issue I am concerned with. I fall on the regulative principle "side" and figure that such "evangelistic tools" should not be used in our churches. The regulative principle is not the foundational issue. The foundational issue I am concerned with is the mindset that drives this type of event. Why is the gospel so "watered-down"? Certainly, it is so that lost people can understand it. The central reason for preaching Christ is, in this case, so that souls might be won. Therefore, we can water down the gospel in the hopes that it will be more appealing and win more souls for Jesus. Also, we have to have a way to keep track of these "decisions". Sometimes an altar call is enough; but, sometimes we are so successful that we have to get cards so that we can see "how many people made decisions". My main concern is that the gospel is neutered. My secondary concern is that people go home confused and often with a false sense of security.
This is a somewhat extreme example. Now imagine this situation. You are attending a conference on missions/evangelism. You hear some very startling statistics. You learn that every 1.7 seconds someone dies and goes to hell. (Which by the way is probably a fairly accurate statistic; and this should cause us concern). You also hear about our lack of evangelism. You think back upon your year and realize that you have not shared Christ with nearly as many people as you could have. You are plagued with guilt (and perhaps you should be). Then the speaker tells you a touching story of someone that he did not share Jesus with and blames himself for that person being in hell. You are urged to think of all your family members and friends that will be in hell within 100 years if you do not share the gospel with them. You go home; you are now depressed but have motivation to share the gospel with people. As you wake up the next morning it is still sticking with you, but you still struggle with fear--and now more guilt. Then the next day you are a little more numb. You continue down this cycle until next years evangelism conference and then you are reminded of your failure and vow to do better this time around. You wake up again to failure.
Now imagine this scene. You catch a vision of the majesty and holiness of God. You begin to realize that God is passionate about His glory. You begin to understand that God wants to spread His glory to the nations. Furthermore, you find that God is glorified whether souls are saved or not. Certainly we want to see souls saved; yet we are able to trust in the Lord's goodness and know that the preaching of His Word is a means to spread His glory to the nations. This causes you to realize that every time you share the gospel it is a "success". Your standard is no longer "how many decisions" but is instead "was God glorified". You still are convicted at times when you do not share the gospel. This time, however, it is different. You are not stricken with guilt because you sent somebody to hell. This time you feel a deep sense of conviction because you have valued man's opinion over the glory of God.
Do you see how this serves as a filter? The first scenario would never happen because you would be more concerned about faithfully proclaiming the gospel than about "winning souls". The second scenario would also be done away with. We can still share the statistics. We can still point out our failures to evangelism. But this time instead of being driven to an "I've got to do better" mentality we will be driven to the Cross. We will plead with God to show us more of His glory. We will repent of not treasuring Him over the fear of man. We will rest on His mercy to stir up in our hearts a proper motivation for evangelism. We will cry out for more compassion. We will plead with Him to stir in our hearts in such a way that we treasure His glory more than anything else.
I am not alone in my convictions either. Martin Lloyd-Jones found the same thing was true. As Lloyd-Jones began studying Scripture, and the sermons of many men that had been used by God in mighty ways, he found 5 things in common in each of their gospel presentations:
- The supreme object of the work of evangelism is to glorify God, not to save souls
- The only power that can do this work is the Holy Spirit, not our own strength
- The one and only medium through which the Spirit works is the Scriptures; therefore, we “reason out of the Scriptures” like Paul did
- These preceding principles give us the true motivation for evangelism-a zeal for God and a love for others
- There is a constant danger of heresy through a false zeal and employment of unscriptural methods
The reason that we must preach Christ alone is because that is how He is to be glorified. We do not display Jesus as a sufficient treasure when we preach Christ plus something else. If Jesus needs motorcycles to be attractive then He must not be that precious of a treasure. The way we preach Christ displays how much we value Him as a sufficient treasure! There is a great snippet from a Spurgeon sermon at Pulpit magazine's blog today that fits well here; The Importance of Preaching Christ. Spurgeon's central thesis is this: "You [as preachers] have nothing else to employ as the means of good, except the salvation of Jesus, and there is nothing else worth telling."
Therefore, I encourage you to preach Christ. Do it boldly. And do it without ribbons and without bows. And when you are preaching Christ do not do it with the ulterior motive of "winning souls". God will do that work. You preach Christ and Christ alone for His glory alone! Remember the greatest Christmas present came without gift wrapping!
Dan Philipps has an excellent post at Pyromaniacs; where he considers the Danger of Confessions. Philipps central contention is this: "while I find much help, encouragement, and instruction in the great confessions, I have to remember: Satan may sift the body of which I am a part. I may find myself alone. Will I be able to say "I believe, and I have come to know"? This is a great question to ask ourselves. I have great fellowship with many of my Reformed brothers, but if they go south on matters of ecclesiology am I am able to stand up for what I believe?
Why do so many men not write like this anymore: "And as often as we muse on Christ the fire burns with us also. And the longer we muse on Him, and the deeper our musing goes, the more the fire burns. And this fire never sinks low, far less ever dies out, as long as we so muse. Think enough, meditating enough, musing enough on Christ, will do it. Thinking that always ends in prayer, and in praise, and in repentance unto life, and in ever new obedience, that will do it. Think you see Christ all through the Four Gospels. Think you see Him die at the end of the Four Gospels. Think you see Him rise again. Think you see Him ascend up into heaven. Think that it is the day of judgment. And think you see the books opened, - till you cry to Him continually day and night, Rock of Ages, cleft for me!" The words are from Alexander Whyte and come to us via The Vossed World. Now it seems like many have abandoned "musing" for "doing". Could it be possible that deep musing creates deep doing? Could it be that the reason we often only see superficial change is because we spend a vast majority of our time thinking and doing that which is superficial?
Brian at Voice of the Sheep has a great article on the visible church. He wonders how often does the world see the church gathering in a public setting. Even on Wednesday's and Sunday's all the world sees are our cars. Therefore, his suggestion is this: Do more things in public with your church body so that the world will see you together with one another. (HT: Challies)
Monday, December 17, 2007
I agree with what Burroughs is saying. Yet, I would perhaps phrase it a little differently. As C.S. Lewis said:
Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (From The Weight of Glory, 1949)I would say then that Burroughs is correct that contentment comes from having our desires met. As Burroughs has hinted at before; we as Christians are the most contented and at the same time most dissatisfied creatures. Therefore if we are to be contented it will come from having strong desires for the Lord and not having hearts entangled in the world. We will be content with whatever lot we have in the world because that is not where our heart is. Our heart has a much stronger affection and because of that we will not be dissatisfied by our circumstances, but rather we will be panting after the Lord. Satisfied, yet hungry! Burroughs, I believe, would agree with this. Yet I have chosen to word it a little differently than he does for the sake of clarity in the 21st century.
John Piper reminds us that we need to feel homesick: "The likelihood of dying because you are a Christian is closer than it used to be for Americans. The freedom from such threats has generally existed in this country for a tiny portion of history (about 400 years). We have gotten used to it. It seems like the way things must be. So our first reaction to the threat that things might be otherwise is often anger. But that anger may be a sign that we have lost our sense of being aliens and exiles (“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles . . .” 1 Peter 2:11). Perhaps we have settled in too much to this world and this country in particular. We don't feel as homesick for Christ as Paul did..." Continue reading
In Acts29/MBC news, Founders has posted an interview with Kevin Larson. Larson is one of the 3 churches that will be deeply affected by this decision. The St. Louis Post has ran an article as well. My friend Sam of Believers Church, also deeply impacted by this decision, was interview for this article. My only regret is that in the Post article the author refers to these churches as "Emerging". That is not helpful to the discussion.
Josh Harris has parts two and three now posted on his affluenza series.
Pulpit Magazine attempts to answer a very good question about being unequally yoked: Question: Some people have told me that being unequally yoked is talking exclusively about marriage. Others have said that it applies also to business partnerships and other situations. Could you please expand on this? What does it mean to be unequally yoked and what type of a guideline should I have if it is okay for me to have a business partnership with a non-believer? Read the answer here.
And finally Thabiti Anyabwile, from Pure Church, tackles the Satan (I mean Santa) Claus debate. I am hoping that my friend Will accepts my invite to begin writing on this blog. If he does I would love to see him address this issue--I appreciate his stance on Christmas. As for Thabiti he says Down with Santa Claus. Here is his conclusion: "I'm not arguing a dogmatic causality here. I'm simply asking the question, "Why include Santa Claus at all?" Is the imagined upside of following the culture here worth what we think it's worth? And are our justifications helping us to point our children to Christ or masking the reality that we may be pointing our children away from Him? Personally, I doubt Santa Claus is worth it, and pointing our kids away from Jesus at Christmas may be the worst form of child neglect I can imagine."
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I am trying my best to be fair with these comments. But they seem to be not grounded in truth or any biblical basis so it is very difficult. Acts 29 is a network and does not require affiliate churches to give to them. Therefore, giving to this network is no different than a church giving money to the Purpose Driven Life or for that matter the MBC giving or taking money from Mormons (Tan-Tar-A, MO Baptist College). I am not certain what the "pledge one thing, and do another" is referring to. I know my friends church is doing everything they pledged to do. I think my main problem with Hinkle's statement is that it is not substantiated by anything. They are just accusations; many of which have been addressed and disproven (see here). Timmy Brister does a far better job and is more expansive than I in addressing this, read his response.
When we look at the BP article we learn that the newly elected President of the MBC, Gerald Davidson, "argued that only a handful of board members were informed enough about the Acts 29 Network to be able to vote on any motion that was critical of it. He said on two separate occasions that his knowledge was lacking." It would have been really nice if they had heeded advice and tabled the issue until April. But, as often is the case in our democratic Christianity the majority won: "But Dunn spoke for the majority of board members who have at least heard about The Journey's well-publicized barroom ministry and are bothered by it and vow that it will never happen again." The article is not extremely informative. Yet, it does help us to see that this issue is heated, emotional, and volatile and it appears to have a set course. What bothers me most is that the majority report by Theological Committee was accepted but not the minority report. Also comments by Mark Devine and mounds of evidence seem to be ignored. This really pains me because it is brother fighting against brother.
Also, the Lord has moved in the hearts of many brothers and sisters to set up a fund for these 9 churches that will be hurt by this decision. If you feel so compelled to give then you can do so by sending a check or money order to:
St. Louis Metro Baptist Association
(designate it for the “Show Me Church Planting Fund”)
St. Louis Metro Bapt. Assoc.attn.
3859 Fee Fee Road
Bridgeton, Mo. 63044
Friday, December 14, 2007
It's flu season, and has been since the day after Thanksgiving. I'm not talking about the type of flu you think though. I am talking about affluenza. Josh Harris gives us part one on affluenza.
You should also check out a really interesting article by Anthony Bradley: Preaching to Smothered Mama's Boys. It's a good one for mothers to read (to know what NOT to do) and for men and fathers to read (to know the need to rescue the young men entrusted to you).
Brothers, may we heed the wise counsel of this dear man that is now with Jesus. May we especially take heed to his last two paragraphs. It is my prayer as well as we engage our brothers that we might, as the word of God says, speak the truth in love.
Dear Sir,As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of
truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, nay friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours might take the field with a confidence of victory. I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle. But I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a coat of armor; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great armory provided for the Christian soldier, the word of God. I take it for granted, that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one. For method sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public, and yourself.
1. As to your opponent, I wish, that, before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord's teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write. If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab, concerning Absalom, are very applicable: "Deal gently with him for my sake." The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.
In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul,with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever. But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace, (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit,) he is a more proper object of your pity and compassion than of your anger. Alas! "he knows not what he does." But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the Gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes,and not his.
Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. If, indeed, those who differ from us have a power of changing themselves, if they can open their own eyes, and soften their own hearts, then we might with less inconsistency be offended at their obstinacy; but if we believe the very contrary to this, our part is, not to strive, but in meekness to instruct those who oppose, "if perhaps God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth."
If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling-blocks in the way of the blind, or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their prejudices, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.
3. This leads me, in the last place, to consider your own concern in your present undertaking. It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers. If ever such defenses were seasonable and expedient, they appear to be so in our day, when errors abound on all sides, and every truth of the Gospel is either directly denied, or grossly misrepresented. And yet we find but very few writers of controversy, who have not been manifestly hurt by it.
Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which at most are but of a secondary value. This shows, that, if the service is honorable, it is dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause, and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made! Your aim, I doubt not, is good; but you have need to watch and pray, for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you: he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defense of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.
Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate. If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who, "when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not." This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, "not rendering railing for railing, but, contrariwise,blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called." The wisdom which is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the lack of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savor and efficacy of our labors.
If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow-creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves. If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of Gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands. Go forth,therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord Almighty, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts, that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Chapter 5 is the first chapter in the second section. The central issue that Owen will direct us in this chapter is concerning the nature of mortification. In essence this section will help us answer the question, "How do I go about mortifying sin in my life?" He will do this by first showing us what mortification is and is not. Then he will give crucial instructions on what must take place in mortification. And lastly he will get specific and show us how this is to be done. Chapter 5 will deal with showing 5 things that mortification is NOT.
- Mortification is not the utter destruction and death of sin
- Mortification is not the dissumlation (becoming unlike) of sin
- Mortification is not the improvement of a quiet sedate nature
- Mortification is not the diversion of sin
- Mortification is not occasional conquests over sin
The fourth point is also especially convicting. I think there are areas in my life that have merely been diverted into other sins. Sin is so sneaky. How many times have I "conquered" a sin only to fall into pride and self-righteousness. Owen's summation of this point hits a deep chord in my heart: "He that changes pride for worldliness, sensuality for Pharisaism, vanity in himself to the contempt of others, let him not think that he has mortified the sin that he seems to have left. He has changed his master, but is a servant still."
A good majority of the chapter is focused on the fifth point. I would venture that Owen spends such time on this point because of its deceptive nature and frequency in occurence. I know in my own life that often after a "sad eruption" I make promises that I cannot keep. I found it especially interesting what Owen said concerning sin "hiding" during this time. "The whole man, spiritual and natural, being now awakened, sin shrinks in its head, appears not, but lies as dead before him: as when one that has drawn nigh5 to an army in the night, and has killed a principal person—instantly the guards awake, men are roused up, and strict inquiry is made after the enemy, who, in the meantime, until the noise and tumult be over, hides himself, or lies like one that is dead, yet with firm resolution to do the like mischief again upon the like opportunity." This makes me wonder how many sins are in "hiding" in my own life. My prayer is that through the power of the gospel they might be brought out and truly mortified. Oh, how desperate for Jesus' rescue I am!
John Newton's hymn "A Sick Soul" is fitting as my prayer of response:
Physician of my sin–sick soul,
To thee I bring my case;
My raging malady control,
And heal me by thy grace.
Pity the anguish I endure,
See how I mourn and pine;
For never can I hope a cure
From any hand but thine.
I would disclose my whole complaint,
But where shall I begin?
No words of mine can fully paint
That worst distemper, sin.
It lies not in a single part,
But through my frame is spread;
A burning fever in my heart,
A palsy in my head.
It makes me deaf, and dumb, and blind,
And impotent and lame;
And overclouds, and fills my mind,
With folly, fear, and shame.
A thousand evil thoughts intrude
Tumultuous in my breast;
Which indispose me for my food,
And rob me of my rest.
Lord I am sick, regard my cry,
And set my spirit free;
Say, canst thou let a sinner die,
Who longs to live to thee?
A few days ago I mentioned my confusion about a recent post by Mark Dever. Perhaps Jonathan Leeman has provided an answer. See it here.
Jim at Old Truth has found himself in the midst of a discussion ("argument") over whether or not we should question professions of faith. This morning he pulled the Mark Dever card. "Sometimes I get the feeling that people think there's something wrong with questioning the reality of a profession of faith. It's legalistic, or judging, or holier than thou. Or something. But if evangelists want to see lost sinners saved, and if evangelists know that we sinners can deceive ourselves, then it's not surprising that we want to try to make sure (with all appropriate qualifications about our limitedness) that conversions professed are conversions possessed. Or is it just sour-faced theologians who think about such things? Are preachers who think about such things unevangelistic?" Continue reading for the answer.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Believer’s Church is affiliated with two different groups to further the cause of the planting Gospel-centered churches and reaching lost people with the message of Jesus Christ. One of those groups is the Missouri Baptist Convention and the other is the Acts29 Network. Although there are NO major theological differences between the two groups and they both, in the area of church planting especially, claim to be working towards the same end. One of the groups, by nature of its structure, is incredibly political in comparison to the other as was evidenced this past Monday. In spite of encouraging reports from Mark Devine, professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a recent conference featuring the president and board members of Acts 29 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the executive board of the MBC passed the following motion in a meeting Monday (which many board members were not able to be at because of the weather):
Effective Jan 1, The Acts 29 Network is an organization which the MBC Exec Bd. Staff will not be working with, supporting, or endorsing in any manner at anytime.
It was amended with the following statement:
While recognizing the autonomous nature of all areas of MBC life beyond that of the Executive Board Staff, the MBC Executive Board directs the Church Planting Department and other ministry departments to not provide CP dollars toward those affiliated with the Acts 29 Network.
This has caused quite a stir among many people in the MBC already, but the deed has been done. This means that our church will lose $12,000.00 in funding for 2008. This money will not affect our church budget, as our ministry budget is based of the giving pledges of our members. This is money that I am dependent on for my salary and it will definitely affect us with our second child due in February.
Please be in prayer for the Missouri Baptist Convention; that God would cause them to be more focused on Kingdom power than on personal power and political kingdoms. Also be in prayer for the church plants/planters that this is going to affect. Last of all, please pray for our family. We are confident that God will supply all of our need (Phil 4:19), we’re just not sure where from right now.
Thank you for your prayers and partnership in the Gospel,
Hey here is an idea--go to www.bchannibal.com and help support this brother! On the homepage click on Give. Also, I would encourage you to go to their website and see what type of "heresy" they are preaching at this Acts29/MBC church...His preaching is very foolish (1 Cor. 1:21-22).
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
MOTION:Effective Jan 1, The Acts 29 Network is an organization which the MBC Exec Bd. Staff will not be working with, supporting, or endorsing in any manner at anytime.
Amendment:While recognizing the autonomous nature of all areas of MBC life beyond that of the Executive Board Staff, the MBC Executive Board directs the Church Planting Department and other ministry departments to NOT provide CP dollars toward those affiliated with the Acts 29 Network.
Motion as amended passed by a vote of 28-10 HT: Jim Shaver
What does this mean? It means that if you are a new church plant with the MBC and you are not yet "self-sufficient", then you must decide whether or not you are going to drop your affiliation with Acts29 or the MBC. Because the MBC is providing much of their funding this puts them in a very difficult position. I would love to see Acts29 step up and provide funding in place of the MBC. I would love seeing Acts29 churches stay in the MBC--but the politicians have made this nearly impossible.
I will probably be posting more on this later. Until then there is a little conversation going on at
Founders, Scott Lamb at Thoughts and Adventures, and at Micah Fries blog.
Update: Here are a few additional thoughts I have after doing some research. They are also posted at the Founders blog:
Let me preface by saying that I am not very knowledgeable of all the inner-workings of the MBC; so I could be quite wrong in my hypothesis. Nevertheless after doing a little research I think I have figured out that this is more than just an "alcohol" issue. I think the Executive Board feels that they are doing us a favor by preserving us from the Emerging church movement.
If you know anything about Acts 29 you know that they are not affiliated with the emerging church movement (Emergent, McClaren, Tony Jones, etc.) However, the Theological Committee Review has reported that Acts29 and Emerging/Emergent are pretty much synonymous. Read section 3A of their report
It appears to me that the underlying problem is that they are lumping Acts 29 with the Emerging Church. Emerging Church we should be very concerned with as they often deny the biblical gospel...if you read the review you will see how Acts 29 is lumped in with Emergent...therefore, I think people associate the heresy of Emergent with Acts 29.
Here is the part I am unsure of...how serious did the Executive Board take the Report. But as I have studied I think it is more than "just alcohol". It's motivated out of misinformation and wrongly associating Acts29 with Emergent.
Michael Spencer, the Internetmonk, has made a very thoughtful post about Name Tags. In effective irony he points out the hypocrisy of many who call the Emerging Church (Conversation, Emergent, whatever they are called) vague. His point is that we [insert your affiliations here] are just as guilty as the emergent of being slippery and unidentifiable. His solution serves as a fitting rebuke...we should just wear name tags that spells out who we follow. "Maybe we could just try using the names of favorite teachers, like “Keller types” or “Macarthur types.” What do you think? “I am of Paul.” “I am of Apollos.” It would make everything much simpler."
I will take his rebuke and grow from it--I know I do sometimes follow "Piper", "Sproul", "Edwards", "Spurgeon", etc. And defining my theology by a name tag is wrong, I confess. But I do have to disagree with Spencer on one point at least. What many decry Emergent for is not that they are slippery in defining their names or giving a definition to their theology. Granted, it is frustrating not knowing what to call them (it makes writing more difficult). Slippery name tags is not the problem. Slippery theology is what the problem is. When their leaders refuse to make a stance on homosexuality (something the Bible is clear about) and clothe their border-line (sometimes outright) heretical views with deliberately confusing arguments then they become slippery, and that is what people have a problem with. Nonetheless, the rebuke still stands.
New Attitude points us to a C.J. Mahaney article on "Cravings and Conflict". Every time I read or hear something by Mahaney my level of respect for him grows. After reading this article I wanted to comment on it but found myself only able to say, "Wow". I highly recommend you read this article--you will be blessed. In it Mahaney reminds us that we will face conflict, the question is are we ready for it? This article will certainly help us.