Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I have never done this, but I'm doing it now. Please listen to this. Don't listen alone. Gather your family around and turn off any distractions and listen to this. If you can, gather friends around at work or at your home and listen to this.
You can watch it in 3 parts on Rick's website CLICK HERE. Scroll down to the bottom and you'll see the images you click on to watch.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Accordingly, in every age, he who is most forward in extolling the excellence of human nature, is received with the loudest applause. But be this heralding of human excellence what it may, by teaching man to rest in himself, it does nothing more than fascinate by its sweetness, and, at the same time, so delude as to drown in perdition all who assent to it.
-The Institutes of Christian Religion
Those who listen to those on platforms need to make sure that the message is true. Discern what is being taught. Ensure that the speaker is calling you to trust in Christ and see both the beauty of what it means to be an image-bearer of God, but is also honest about our condition as those who have fallen are a plagued with the consequence of sin. In that state of mind we can hope to see our value in God’s eyes and our greatest need met in God’s grace given to us through Christ, His Son.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Yesterday, I had lunch with one of our outstanding ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship) teachers, Tim Brown. If you are not serving on Sunday morning, I would suggest that you attend an ABF and Tim's would be a great one. His class gathers at 9:30 am.
We were talking about how people see themselves and how their wrong view of themselves robs them of confidence and the life that God wants to live in and through them. We discussed how most people see themselves based on what they produce at work or home, how morally good they think they are doing, or by how people perceive them to be doing.
That stinks because you are going to have bad days, which means you are going to have a negative view of yourself.
If you are in Christ, you are righteous in Him. You are an adopted child of the King of Kings. You are Spirit-filled. Your value has been defined by Jesus. You are worth His body and blood to God. You have great value and are loved beyond what you can imagine.
That is how God sees you and how we should view ourselves. We must stop evaluating our lives based on what we do. That is legalism. That is dead will-power religion. We must see ourselves as God does. God sees us in Christ as holy and dearly loved. That does not change. Even when you don't produce, don't behave, or are not impressive to other people. In Christ you are holy. You are amazing. You are blessed. You are not these things because of anything you have done, but because of who God is and what Jesus has done for you and what the Spirit of God is doing in you.
See your value in Christ and you will live a confident and blessed life.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Like many Southern Baptists I discovered yesterday that Dr. Al Mohler would be nominated to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is my response to that news.
As Southern Baptists, we are truly a blessed people. We are blessed with the heritage of sound Biblical doctrine that has been passed down to us and is expressed well in our current “Baptist Faith and Message.” We are blessed with mission agencies that allow us to fulfill both the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) given to us by our Lord. We are blessed with great leadership among our pastors, presidents, and boards.
I have the privilege to serve on such a board. As a trustee of NAMB, I see how God is at work in our mission agencies. It is because of such work that our church gives 10% to the Cooperative Program each year. We have been recognized for the past three years as the leading C.P. giving church in
As Southern Baptists, we leverage these blessings best when this convention and its faith statement provide an umbrella where those who agree on the Baptist Faith and Message can cooperate—even when they have differing opinions on other issues. By never compromising our standards as spelled out in the “Baptist Faith and Message” we retain our banner of truth. By giving grace and consideration in secondary and tertiary concerns we retain our unity and partnership in ministry. In an environment where Biblical truth is defended and shared in humility and love we represent our Lord well and effectively fulfill our divine mandate.
There are leaders within this convention who bless us with their strengths and abilities. However, strengths have weaknesses and those with abilities have deficiencies, but what makes this convention strong is that leaders are allowed to lead where they are strong and able to trust others to be strong where they are weak.
At Southern Seminary, we have a president that effectively articulates cultural and theological issues and provides a strong voice for evangelicals. As one who holds a more reformed theology, I appreciate Dr. Mohler’s insights and the foundation he has provided with the outstanding conservative professors at the seminary here in
I appreciate and applaud his academic and theological strengths but his weakness as a unifying leader concerns me—particularly at this pivotal time in our convention. When I learned that Dr. Mohler was seeking to lead this great convention, I was troubled. Although I affirm Dr. Mohler’s theology and passion, I do not believe what he can offer is what this convention needs in a president.
I have no interest in being S.B.C. president, but I am convinced of the qualities that this leader must possess. This convention needs a unifier. This convention needs someone who can build bridges not segregate camps. This convention needs a man with a pastor’s heart and a pastor’s attitude that can gather pastors and challenge them to lead their churches to cooperate together for the cause of Christ. This convention needs someone known for their commitment to global missions. I believe this convention needs a pastor who is leading a church that gives an exemplary percentage to the Cooperative Program, that is reaching the lost, and that is on mission locally and around the world. Finally, in this time of convention confusion, I do not think we need an agency head to be involved in the process that leads to the appointment of his own trustees.
Dr. Mohler is a good man, even a great man, but he is not the man for S.B.C. president. He has the heart of an academician and the attitude of one who contends for the truth. Right now we need a president that is a shepherd; one who can compassionately bring the different camps that call themselves Southern Baptists together to cooperate. This is a time to come together. We need a bridge builder.
We need men like Dr. Mohler in the academy, to stand watch at the wall and keep doctrinal error from staining the fabric of our faith that so many have worked so hard to clean. We need him to lead professors to train sound theology at Southern Seminary. We need him to continue to consider theories and concepts of faith. That is where he serves us well. For that we are grateful.
Southern Baptists need Dr. Mohler as a seminary president, but not as the president of our convention. I want Dr. Mohler at Southern Seminary and on CNN, but we need an S.B.C. president who has led a local church, regularly participates in international mission trips, does not polarize the conversation, and is known as a “unifier.” The man we need is a proven pastor who is reaching the lost, giving sacrificially to the Cooperative Program, and leading his people to be on mission for God.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
There is a great strength in community. No one of us is stronger than all of us. When you are connected with friends in Christ, you have a power and a force that is hard to defeat.
In the last section of Celebration of Discipline Foster provides disciplines that are to be done in the community of believers that strengthen the individual’s soul.
The first one is sadly strange to most Protestants. It is the discipline of confession. Most people think of a closet with a priest listening, when they hear the word confession. The discipline is more transparent and potent than that.
This discipline is potent because it destroys pride, which produces humility, and it creates community, which destroys isolation. The two best tools the devil uses against us is pride and isolation. This discipline will give us a strong defense against both.
Foster does a good job in explaining how to give a confession safely to the right believer and also how to receive one. He quotes
The second discipline is worship. I will not spend much time on this except to say that all people worship, but only Christians worship God with other believers in the power of Christ's indwelling Spirit. A person who does not worship God with other believers in the context of a covenant community or church is sinning against God and is most likely lost. There are extreme situations when on mission for God or in illness that a believer cannot exercise this discipline, but for the healthy-bodied believer who has access to a church family and does not choose to worship God under the authority and preaching of that church is not in God’s will.
The discipline of guidance is another aspect of spiritual life that many Protestants have lost. We have sought to replace it with mentoring and one-on-one discipleship, but have lost much of the meaning of spiritual guidance. Spiritual guidance is much more than steps to “your best life now.” Spiritual direction, like serious spiritual development, is not dictated to, but is received and results in a deeper love for God because of a deeper understanding, appreciation, and walk with God. In most mentoring or discipleship situations the person being discipled or mentored comes with a set of expectations of what they want. In spiritual direction the outcome is simply a connection with Christ that allows a person to follow Christ closely. It results in “a deep and profound experience of an Emmanuel of the Spirit – God with us; a knowledge that in the power of the Spirit Jesus has come to guide his people himself; an experience of his leading that is definite and as immediate as the could by day and the pillar of fire by night” (p.175).
The final discipline is that of celebration. Too many believers equate this with mere enthusiasm. True celebration comes from a deep abiding joy that rejoices in God regardless of circumstances. You can have your worst life now and still enjoy the greatness and goodness of God.
Far too many believers are running from church to church, from study to study, and from song to song seeking joy. Foster explains well, “Joy is found in obedience. When the power that is in Jesus reaches into our work and play and redeems them, there will be joy where once there was mourning. To overlook this is to miss the meaning of the Incarnation” (p.193).
I hope you will read and reread this book and learn to live out these disciplines. What I do each year is look at my schedule and plan all of them into my life for the year. It helps me to know not only what I will be doing, but when and how and with whom. This year could be a defining year in your spiritual development. I know the year I began to practice these disciplines, 1992, was one of the more pivotal years in my life and as I made key decisions in 1993 – ordination and continuing in ministry even after great suffering, 1994 – marriage, and 1995 – seminary and ministry track, I was helped greatly by these disciplines that led me down the path of my destiny that God prepared for me.