Saturday, June 30, 2007


This week marks the final week of one my church's staff members. Her name is Barbara and she has served at our church for well over 20 years in various capacities. Her compassion and heart is legendary in our area and quite a challenge to a person such as myself who scores negative on the mercy scale. We gathered together as a church staff to honor her with a going away luncheon this past Tuesday. During that time, as is customary with our group, we took time to share stories or thoughts about what made her special. It was touching to listen to the various people share how Barbara had touched their lives whether through doing something, or just being her natural self.

Barbara was known throughout our church and community as a person you could get help from. It might be help for an overdue electric bill, or groceries, or something else. Those of us on the side of cynicism tended to see this as empowering them to take advantage. She never saw it that way. One of the comments that touched me the most was about just this issue. Countless person would come through making the church rounds seeking help for their disinterested lifestyle and she would help however she could. Why did she do it again and again?

"She always saw what that person could be, instead of what they currently were."
She always saw the potential of that person in God's eyes rather than looking at the outward appearance of that person. She never let the outward look prevent her from trying to help. God designed her with that sort of compassion and she discovered it while living it to the fullest.

is an interesting word. We at church are often guilty and caught up in expecting a sinner to be anything other than a sinner. Many years of self-focused church inbreeding has created an atmosphere of conformity to certain priestly defined standards. We so often look at an unchurched person with an expectancy that he or she will meet our standards before attempting to join our community of like-minded fellowship. The Gospels are essentially story after story of Jesus interacting with lost people in whom He saw their potential for the Kingdom of God. Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, the woman at the well, blind people, lame people, diseased people, Peter, Andrew, and even Judas were all benefactors of Jesus' slow march to judgment.

What about the potential found in the beliefs and thoughts of others within our own community? We, as the SBC, are a conditional cooperative conglomerate of like-minded churches who have united to create a greater global reach with the truth of the gospel. We are conditional because we have united to establish a confessional statement, which seeks to bind us together in essential beliefs. Beyond this confession there may or may not be a disparity of viewpoints on a myriad(shoutout to TWT) of non-essential issues. We are a cooperative group due to our agreement to pool our resources, namely cold hard cash, to create and maintain entities that further or supposedly gospel-focused agenda through missions (both local and global), academic training, and resources. We are a conglomerate because our genetic make-up as a convention is thousands of individually autonomous churches and millions of individually created and redeemed believers.

What happens if we cease to see potential in each other? What happens if we seek to remove those who are not like-minded in non-essentials from our midst? What happens if we censure and conflict with those who do not hold to all our personal scriptural interpretations? What happens if we remove the voice of what we could be? Jesus looked past the ravenously murderous appetite of a man named Saul and raised up the greatest missionary the church has known. When will we do the same?

When an organization of religious foundation and purpose ceases to work together in spite of minor differences and moves to establish homogeneous principles in all matters of doctrinal belief it crosses from being a movement of the Holy Spirit to being a legalistic enforcement of Pharisaical rules and regulations. It becomes unbiblical, while attempting to be as biblical as it can be.

Text Of The Day: The Identity Of Christ

Matthew 16:13-17
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

(Some have said the problem in Baptist life is a lack of Baptist identity. I believe the real problem in American Christianity is a lack of real understanding of Jesus' identity. Jesus Christ is God and by faith in Him, we are made right with God. I want to challenge you to get to know the real Jesus, the one in scripture.)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pat On The Back: Shipston's St Edmund's Church.

Please read about The Bible Reading Marathon.

This is an interesting way to raise money and many of you may disagree with it. I for one think it is creative and therefore, they receive a "Pat On The Back". I'm for almost anything that helps people get excited about reading the Bible.

Text Of The Day: Jesus, The Physician

Mark 2:13-17
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (ESV)

(Whether we make small mistakes or royally screw up everything, we have a tendency to think God doesn't want anything to do with us. This isn't true. Jesus came to call sinners to return to God. No matter who you are or what you have done, there is hope for you in Christ. He can heal you, He is The Physician.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Text Of The Day: God Justifies The Ungodly

Romans 4: 1-8

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

(Of all the names of God found in scripture, this is one of my favorites. Paul calls God, "him who justifies the ungodly." No matter what anyone has done, there is hope. Hope not just because of what God has done by sending Christ to die on the cross and rise from the dead, but because of who He is. He is the justifier.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Text Of The Day: What Really Matters Is Knowing Christ

Phil. 3:1-16
Finally, my brothers, [1] rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God [2] and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, [3] blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (ESV)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Open Church

The Open Church
Jurgen Moltmann

I actually came across this book while reading another book that often cited it in its notes. That book is The Shaping of Things to Come. I actually put it down in order to read The Open Church. I searched for a while to find it, and ultimately found it for a reasonable price on Ebay. The link in the title is to Amazon, which lists it for a fairly high price.

I fully realize that many people would automatically discount the writings of Moltmann based purely on what they have been taught in school, or by their well intended pastor. I still vividly remember being asked by an ethics prof at SWBTS why I was reading The Crucified God because Moltmann was a heretic. His theology and writings are certainly rich with the theme of social justice and the underpinnings of liberation theology. This book does have its leanings in this area as it stresses the union through suffering aspect of Christianity and care for the poor and oppressed. When one learns the history of Moltmann, especially the time he spent as a POW, you begin to understand his theological stance for justice for those who lack. The perspective of this book is ultimately summed up in the challenge to refocus church to a compassionate community of people who seek to live Christ in the world. The church must be a committed group of believers who have sought to discover their unique spiritual make up of gifts, passions, and abilities and put this into practice daily outside the walls of a structure called church. In his eyes the church is not necessarily comprised of like-minded people, but rather God created individuals with the common goal of making the truth of Christ known in the world.

In honor of Ben Cole here are some money quotes:

"... the most crucial thing the congregation has to regain today is passion."

"Every Christian congregation must be formed charismatically by discovering the special gifts and talents which have been given by the Spirit to each person."

"The Christian lifestyle is characterized and shaped by the gospel... The Christian lifestyle therefore will be evangelical and not legalistic... Life under the law is principally determined by prohibition and restraints. If one understands the Christian lifestyle legalistically, then a Christian is a person who is not allowed to do this and that, perhaps smoke, or drink, or dance. Living under the law gives us a constant fear of ourselves and anxiety before our impulses and wishes. It makes us have the gnawing feeling that we must and ought to be someone other than who we really are. Life under the law is a repressed, agonizing life. A common law demands uniformity. Everybody must wither do or abstain from the same thing. When the Christian lifestyle becomes legalistic, then the Christian life becomes anxious and narrow-minded.
A life which is worthy of the gospel, however, liberates us to be ourselves and fills us with the powers of the Spirit. We are enabled to give ourselves up and trust ourselves to the leading of the Spirit. Then we are able to accept ourselves just as we are, with out possibilities and limitations, and thereby gain a new spontaneity. We are freed to live with God in the covenant of freedom. The life worthy of the gospel also has its discipline, but it is the discipline of love and joy, not the discipline of anxiety under the threat of the law."

"There is room enough in God's all-powerful freedom for human freedom."

"Nationalism is one of the worst seductions of the people. It is an instrument of the domination of the people with which one people and be incited against another people."

"But God as love can be experienced and represented only in the comprehendible congregation in which one sees and recognizes the other, and accepts the other as he or she is accepted in Christ."

"The Reformation's own impetus was and is composed of three strands: the justifying faith, the universal priesthood of all believers, and the mature, responsible congregation."

The book is well worth the read if it can be found for good price. I have always sought and enjoyed reading material that challenges my thinking and perspective. This book certainly accomplished that goal. I do not agree entirely with all that Moltmann writes or believes, yet I walk away with the challenge of thinking about how I do "church" differently. The idea of closely identifying with the "least of these" through the church is important, yet often forgotten in our race to ensure we don't lose those congregational members who believe that church is entirely centered on and created for their own personal needs.

Thumbs Down For German Court

Please Read Story Here.

It is easy to forget in America that Christianity isn't popular everywhere in the world. In America, we are thankful for our freedom of speech and the freedom it provides us in practicing our Christianity.

I want to challenge you by asking you a question, "if you didn't have free speech, would you still speak up for what you believe?" Pastor Johannes Lerle did this very thing in Germany in speaking about abortion. He compared abortion to the Holocaust and a court has given him a year in jail. So I give this court's decision a big thumbs down.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hyper-Baptist And The Practice Of The Lord’s Supper.

First Two Articles:
  • Am I Southern Baptist Part Two

  • Hyper-Baptist Want Control Of Your Prayer Life

  • Over the years Southern Baptists have neglected the Biblical mandate of the Lord’s Supper. In trying to create a uniquely Baptist style for practicing the Lord’s Supper, most churches neglect it all together. There are two main ways that the practice of the Lord’s Supper has been neglected, in its meaning and in its practice. The desire of Hyper-Baptists to create a Baptist style of doing the Lord’s Supper has corrupted the Biblical view of the Lord's Supper. My challenge for Hyper-Baptist and regular Baptists alike is to return to a Biblical model for practicing the Lord’s Supper.

    If Southern Baptists are going to return to a Biblical model for practicing the Lord’s Supper, we must understand its Biblical meaning. The foundational theme of the Lord’s Supper is fellowship and communion. During the original
    Lord’s Supper, Jesus invited His followers to take bread that symbolized His body and to eat. He also gave them wine that symbolized His blood and told them to drink. He told them they were to continue to observe the Lord’s Supper until His return.

    The meaning of the Lord’s Supper is clear. When one takes the Lord’s Supper they are identifying themselves with Christ’s Lordship, His death and Resurrection, His Kingdom, and His Return. The Lord’s Supper is an act of worship and the Early Church in
    Acts 2 practiced the Lord’s Supper every time they meet together. How could you truly worship Christ and deny taking His body and His blood? Clearly the Lord’s Supper belongs in every worship service. The Lord’s Supper also gives us a basis for fellowship with other believers. What units us as believers in Christ? His body and His blood unite us and it's meaning defines who we are as His people. The Lord’s Supper recognizes the universality of God’s Kingdom. Through taking the Lord’s Supper we are identifying ourselves with every believer who trusts in the Lord Jesus.

    The area that gets most Southern Baptists in trouble isn’t the meaning, but the practice of the Lord’s Supper. First, most Southern Baptist churches are guilty of making the Lord’s Supper insignificant. Most churches only practice the Lord’s Supper once a quarter or four times a year. Then they normally observe it in their least attended service. Some churches will think they are better because they do it once a month. If you aren’t doing the Lord’s Supper every time you meet for worship, you have fallen short. I’m challenging every church to observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, not because I said so, but because scripture does.

    Another dangerous area for Southern Baptists is the issue of the Lord’s Supper being
    “open” or “closed”. Let me explain what I mean. Scripture is clear that the Lord’s Supper is to be observed by Christians only. Therefore the terms “open” or “closed” refer to which Christians can observe the Lord’s Supper in your church. The term “open” means any Christian in your service is welcome to enjoy the Lord’s Supper with the other believers in the church. The term “closed” means that the Lord’s Supper is restricted to only the Christians present who are members of that local church. Much is being said by Hyper-Baptists that the Baptist Faith and Message supports “closed” Lord Supper practices. As a regular Baptist, I’m more concerned with what the Bible says than what the Baptist Faith and Message says. I have read The Baptist Faith and Message and it says that those who take the Lord’s Supper should be members of the church. So the question is how we define “the church”. Biblically, the church is Christ’s body. Therefore every person who confesses Christ as Lord can take the Lord’s Supper at any time. Therefore Southern Baptists should have an “open” Lord’s Supper observance.

    Lastly there is no set “Baptist” way of performing the Lord’s Supper. Your church can use wine, juice, loafs of bread, crackers, or little bread pellets in the actual observing of the Lord’s Supper. Your church can have the elders, deacons, or men pass out the sacraments. I personally enjoy the practice of the people coming forward and getting the sacraments. My point is don’t get stuck in a rut in how you do the Lord’s Supper and don’t lose the Biblical meaning of it either. Don’t worry if Hyper-Baptists tell you that you’re doing it wrong. Most of them are more concerned with being Baptist than being Biblical.

    If you are a pastor I encourage you rethink how you’re doing the Lord’s Supper in your church. If you are a member of a church, talk with your church staff about their practices concerning Lord’s Supper. It should be the desire of every Christian to make the observance of the Lord’s Supper important again and together we will succeed.

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    Pat On The Back: Carla Crain

    The Arizona Republic had a great article by Kelsey Hazlewood a couple of days ago. I want to encourage you to read the inspiring store of Carla Crain. We as Southern Baptist have a heart for missions, but we aren’t the only ones. She started with a simple vacation/mission trip and God opened her eyes to His purpose for her life. I want to encourage every reader to think about going on some form of mission trip as soon as possible. Hook up with any group that is interested is seeing God’s Kingdom expressed and explained around the world. I encourage every reader to consider going with a Southern Baptist group, but don’t allow that to limit you either. If you want more information about the ministry of Carla Crain check out Hope 4 Kids International.

    Pat On The Back: Morris Chapman

    I have made it no secret that I'm a big fan of Morris Chapman. God has been and is continuing to use Dr. Morris Chapman to give direction to the Southern Baptist Convention. Since the Baptist Faith and Message Motion passed at the annual convention, the debate over how to use the Baptist Faith and Message has escalated. Once again Dr. Chapman brings light where there was darkness and therefore he receives a "Pat on the Back". You can read the article here at Please pray for him, because the Hyper-Baptists won't agree with this article.

    Preaching Help From Rick Warren

    Here are 5 tips on preaching to the unchurched:

    1. You should provide an outline with the scriptures written out.
    2. You should plan your titles to appeal to the unchurched.
    3. You should systematically preach in a series.
    4. You should be consistent in your preaching style.
    5. You should choose your guest speakers very carefully.

    Read the whole article here at
    Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Hyper-Baptists Want Control Of Your Prayer Life.

    I wish I didn’t have to write this series of articles. I wish everyone who carries the label Southern Baptist would realize that the Christian life is about growing in a commitment to the Lordship of Christ, to the spreading of the gospel globally, and to working with God as He builds His Kingdom. Unfortunately there is a movement that I call “Hyper-Baptist” that has a different idea of what it means to carry the label Southern Baptist. Sadly, there are SBC seminary presidents, agency heads, trustees, and pastors that are leading this movement. Even worse is many of these were leaders of the conservative resurgence or what I call the fight for a Christian understanding of the Bible. These men have taken their desire to protect the Southern Baptist Convention to a fanatical extreme. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many regular Southern Baptists in areas of leadership in the SBC, but if we don’t let our voices be heard the Hyper-Baptist Movement may drown them out.

    For the past two years the issue of personal prayer language was been a huge topic in Southern Baptist life. The issue bloomed when the trustees of the International Mission Board made a policy that they wouldn’t send anyone with a PPL to the mission field. First you need to understand what a personal prayer language is. As a person is praying to God the Father, God the Holy Spirit intercedes and speaks through the person to voice a prayer in a language that only God and the person praying understands. The president of the IMB has said that he has a personal prayer language but he never made PPL mandatory for anyone to serve as a missionary. So why have the IMB trustee acted to ban anyone with a personal prayer language from serving as a missionary?

    The reason is that many of those serving on the trustee board of the IMB are Hyper-Baptists. Hyper-Baptists believe there is a Baptist style of praying and if you don’t pray like they say you should, then you are unqualified to serve with them. You maybe thinking to yourself, this is crazy. The number of people without Christ is increasing and Southern Baptists are coming up with new ways to send fewer people out as missionaries. Maybe you are thinking that statistics show that the average Baptist minister prays less than three minutes a day and therefore, Southern Baptists should be thankful that someone is praying, even if it is a prayer language. Maybe you think regular Baptists should speak up and tell the Hyper-Baptist to stop trying to control what people pray. I believe if people are Christians, committed to the Baptist Faith and Message, willing to pack up their families, move to a foreign country, and learn a new language for the purpose of sharing Christ with the lost then we as Southern Baptist should do all we can to help them.

    Regular Southern Baptists believe prayer is one of the foundations of the Christian life. Prayer is inspired by God and for God. One of the biggest differences between regular Southern Baptists and Hyper-Baptist is Hyper-Baptists want to control the way you pray and regular Southern Baptists believe that is God’s job.

    Stay tuned for more on Hyper-Baptists

    “Pat on the Back: Mike Huckabee”

    Every Christian in the United States has a responsibility to be involved in our political system. Many believe that religion and politics don’t mix, but social change and progress is dependent on Christians getting involved. Whether it is running for office or filling out a ballot to cast a vote, Christians need to take serious their role in setting the course for America’s future.

    Former Governor of Arkansas
    Mike Huckabee has placed his name into the race for President. He has gained a lot of attention for his faith and the warm funny ways he responses to questions. As a voter, I’m looking for someone who values traditional marriage, life, education, and bring peace to the Iraq situation. I trust Mike Huckabee and as long as he is running for president, he has my vote. I encourage you to read about Mike Huckabee and I hope you decide to vote for him as well.

    Finally, if you are a Christian, you need to decide how you can make a difference in our political system.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Thumbs Down: Rev Ann Holmes Redding

    I was looking for an article for, "Pat on the Back" and came across this article. This story is a great example of the importance of doctrinal truth. So I will create a series called, "Thumbs Down" where I expose things Christians can't support. In an article by the World Net Daily, they detail how Rev Ann Holmes Redding is both an Episcopal priest and a practicing Muslim. She doesn't mind that both faiths teach something completely different about the nature of Christ.

    This is sad because Rev. Ann Redding is looking for truth and even though she has been religious she has missed what she needed most. She needs to experience the call of Christ to come and repent of trying to solve her problems with religion and surrender her life to His control. She needs to believe in her heart that Christ is the only begotten Son of God and therefore God indeed. I encourage you to pray for her.

    This serves as a warning for Southern Baptists. Many Southern Baptists have wonder how far should our desire for ecumenicalism extend? This is an illustration of crossing the line. When we start changing our believes about the nature of the Bible, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, and our calling to evangelize the world to fit in with other groups, then we have taken ecumenicalism too far. Please read the rest of the article on
    Rev Ann Redding.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Am I a Southern Baptist: Part Two?

    As I read through the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, I didn’t find anything I disagreed with. I believe everything stated in our confession. So I realized I truly am a Southern Baptist. I’m a Christian who is a member of a Southern Baptist church and I hold to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Before you start clapping your hands in joy, this raised a question that has to be answered.

    If I’m Southern Baptist, then what are those people that are making rules I don’t agree with? The answer is they are Hyper-Baptists. So if I confused you with a new word. Let me illustrate my point by using Calvinism as my example. Some of the best Baptists are Calvinist, but there is a form of Calvinism that is dangerous and it is called Hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinists were against evangelism and missions because they thought men were trying to do God’s job of saving. Under Hyper-Calvinism ton of people went to Hell without hearing the gospel. Listen to a regular Baptist Calvinist and you will hear a passion for evangelism and missions. Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism are completely different even though they share lingo and some beliefs.

    The same thing that happened with Calvinism is happening with Southern Baptist beliefs. As regular Southern Baptists, you and I hold to the Baptist Faith and Message as our Confession, but this isn’t enough for the Hyper-Baptist. What is sad and hard to understand is that many of our heroes over the past 30 years have joined this Hyper-Baptist movement. It is true that many Baptist heroes have stayed true to regular Baptist beliefs like Morris Chapman, Thom Rainer, Jerry Rankin, Ed Stetzer and many others.

    The Hyper-Baptist sound like they are concern about the same things we are as regular Baptists, but the honest truth is they aren’t. Their goals aren’t the same as ours. As regular Baptists we want to practice what the Bible teaches. Hyper-Baptists want to practice what the Anabaptist and Separatist Baptists did 300 hundred years ago. As regular Southern Baptists we want to give people the freedom to practice anything the Bible teaches. Hyper-Baptists want to make rules that force you to do what they think makes you Baptist. A Hyper-Baptist battles for Baptist traditions to build a Baptist Kingdom while serving a Baptist God. Regular Southern Baptists are focused on being obedient to the Word of God, building God’s Kingdom, and inviting as many as possible to enjoy God forever.

    Stay tuned because I will be writing a series of articles on Hyper-Baptist beliefs.

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Am I A Southern Baptist: God’s Holy Word

    Baptist Faith and Message 2000 – “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”

    I am in agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 on the issue of God’s Word. I believe the Bible is God’s Word, therefore, it is completely true and our main guide for living life God’s way. The Bible has two main activities. The Bible is revelation about God, man, sin, salvation, heaven, hell, family, faith, forgiveness, and love. The Bible is also redemption by making clear that Christ is God and by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, he has brought help to everyone who will give Him control of their lives.

    I believe Biblical truth is necessary for salvation. No one can say that he or she is a Christian and doesn’t believe what the Bible teaches. I’m glad that Southern Baptist have adopted this Christain principle as part of their confession, but everyone must remember that every real Christian will also except God’s Word as truth. In closing the reason Christians believe in God’s Word is because the Bible testifies to itself in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,

    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” ESV

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    Pat On The Back: Ed Stetzer

    At this Southern Baptist Convention there were several men that were courageous enough to say what Southern Baptists needed to hear. I thank God for the things Morris Chapman, Frank Page, Jerry Rankin, and Rob Zinn had to say at the Convention. I believe the most important message was given by Ed Stetzer. Ed Stetzer called our convention back to a life of missions and to the cross of Christ. While others spoke to divide our convention, Ed spoke to unite us under the cross of Christ and His command to share the gospel with all people. Ed Stetzer told us that doctrine is important, but we are losing a generation of people because we are debating each other instead of evangelizing the lost. So here is a pat on the back to Ed Stetzer for allowing God to use him to say what Southern Baptists needed to hear. Please read the Baptist Press article about Ed Stetzer.

    Saturday, June 16, 2007

    Am I A Southern Baptist: Introduction

    A Southern Baptist is a person who is a member of a local Southern Baptist Church. By definition, I’m a Southern Baptist and have been one for a long time. So what is my problem? My problem is that many of my beliefs and practices that I consider Biblical are no longer accepted by many leading Southern Baptists. I find myself losing the ability to be useful to my convention and God’s Kingdom at the same time. Matter of fact, many in SBC leadership would like for Southern Baptists like me to be quiet, do nothing, and just give to the cooperative program while allowing them to create a new Southern Baptist identity. My hope is whoever has leadership in the SBC would realize the need for Southern Baptists like me. I invite you to come along on the journey with me. Examine my beliefs and practices to see if I can still be considered a value to the Southern Baptist Convention. Examine your own beliefs and let me know how I can help you along your journey of being obedient to God’s Will in your own life.

    Preview of my next article:

    I believe the Bible is God’s Word, therefore, it is completely true and our main guide for living life God’s way.

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    "Am I a Southern Baptist?

    At fifteen I became a believer in Christ, was baptized as a sign of my faith in the Lord, and joined the local Baptist church my parents attended. Since that time I have considered myself a Southern Baptist. I graduated from a Baptist college, served as pastor of several Baptist churches, and got a MDIV from a Baptist seminary, but with recent events I have began to question my ability to serve in this denomination. I would image that I’m not alone. I’m not trying to take sides in any debate, but I wonder if I can continue to be a Southern Baptist and hold to the principles I believe the Bible teaches.

    Over the next several weeks I will share my beliefs on some important issues and as I struggle through this process, I invite anyone who wants to join in to share your views. You don’t have to agree with me, but realize there are people just like me in every Baptist Church.

    My goal is to help every reader to realize that this isn’t about the Baptist “liberals” against the Baptist “conservatives”, but real people trying to figure out the best way they can serve their God and follow His will.

    As I share my beliefs, I hope to learn from you and for you to learn from me. It will be interesting at the end of the journey to see if I’m still considered a Southern Baptist.

    Pat On The Back: The Life of Ruth Graham

    Another hero of the faith went to be with the Lord. Mrs. Ruth Graham, Billy Graham's wife died this week. Any great preacher knows that he couldn't do a thing without his spouse. A whole world as watched God use Billy Graham to change millions of lives and he couldn't have done it without the commitmemt of Ruth. Therefore I ask you to pray for the Graham family during this time of loss, but be thankful for a wonder example of what God can do through a family when there is a godly woman in it. Here are some pictures from the Charlotte Observer.

    Pat On The Back: James Holsinger, Jr.

    James Holsinger, Jr is the current surgeon general nominee. He is under attack for making clear that homosexuality is a choice and it produces health concerns to people in that lifesyle. I support his courage and intregrity to make this stand. The media makes it sounds like no one ever stops being queer. The media also promotes that a choice to be homosexual should grant you special rights. So here is a pat on the back for someone sharing the truth about homosexuality, James Holsinger, Jr. For anyone struggling with homosexuality, there is hope and help for you. Don’t be intimidated by the homosexual movement, it's time for a change.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Pat On The Back: The Life Of Dr. Bill Tanner

    With Dr. Bill Tanner going to be with the Lord I want to send out a special "Pat on the Back" in recognition of the impact that he had on my life and the life of so many others. I don't know of any person that could say they out loved Dr. Tanner. He loved life, laughter, his family, Southern Baptists, and most of all his Lord. When I think of what a Southern Baptist should be, I think of Dr. Tanner. He served so others might come to know Christ. He had the ability to use laughter to teach and help people focus on what is most important in life. I always felt better after having talked to Dr. Tanner and he always gave great advice when I needed it. I'm thankful that I knew Dr. Tanner as a teacher but even more as a friend. Dr. Tanner should be remembered for what he was, a servant of God. Dr. Tanner would tell anyone that he couldn't have done anything without his dear wife Ellen. She is one incredible lady. I encourage everyone to pray for her and the Tanner family during this time. Short Bio of Dr. Tanner

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Please Read Before The SBC Convention

    "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned." Titus 3:1-11, ESV Bible

    Thursday, June 07, 2007

    Pat On The Back For Rebekah St. James

    It might not be Elijah and the prophets of baal, but Rebekah St. James is taking a huge stand for God. New York wants to see if Christian concerts can be profitable and Rebekah St. James has been chosen as the draw. If Miss. St. James’ concert is profitable these New York promoters will hold more Christian concerts, if this concert doesn’t bring in the expected people it could be the last such concert for some time. Rebekah is taking a risk for God. We need to pray that tons of people will come and have their lives changed. Let those promoters have their money, but let God have the Glory. Everyone needs to take notice that God matters. This is a great opportunity to give a huge witness for Christ. Personally, I thank God for Christian music because it has had a big impact on my life. Rebekah St. James is one of my favorite singers and her concert can be the start of something big in New York. Let’s pray for Rebekah St. James. Please read the article in full at the Christian Post website, Rebekah St. James. I want to challenge you to consider how you can take a risk and make a stand for Christ in your community.

    "Pat On The Back"

    I am starting a new series called, “Pat On The Back” which will highlight actions that create a positive witness and show that God is mightily at work. Even though I’m Southern Baptist, I believe God uses anyone that is willing to listen and obey Him. God is focused on building His Kingdom and that should be our focus as well. Please understand that just because I give someone a pat on the back doesn’t mean I agree with their theology, actions they have done in the past, or any of their future actions. I encourage each person who reads, “Pat on the Back” to consider how he or she can do a similar action in their church or community. Sometimes “Pat on the Back” may be a call to pray for someone who is attempting something big for God. Most of all, I hope you’re encouraged and your faith strengthened as you see God at work.

    Frank Page

    Since Frank Page is going to be nominated again for President of the SBC I thought it would be helpful to reprint his answers to my seven questions that I sent him last summer. I voted for him last year and I am excited to see how God uses him this coming year.

    Seven Questions with President Frank Page
    1. As President of the SBC, you served in one of the most stressful positions in the convention. What was your secret to staying focused?

    Obviously, I have just begun this task. However, already, I can assure you that it is one of the most stressful of positions. I must stay focused by keeping my priorities straight. I will not let this position hurt my family or my church. I will not neglect my daily quiet time. I will not allow the demands for my time to hurt my relationship to Jesus.

    2. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

    I believe that the primary issue that will build momentum for kingdom growth in the coming years is a new attitude of selflessness. It is time for every group to realize that they do not own the SBC. I hear people whine about how they’ve lost control of their convention over the last 30 years. I hear other people rejoicing that they now have control over their convention. I hear many groups seeking to gain control over their convention. I believe all of us must realize that this convention belongs to the Lord. Until we confess our feeble attempts at ownership and repent of our sinful self centeredness, the Kingdom will be second in our focus.

    3. At the 2006 SBC Convention Southern Baptists made a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. Why should a church support the Cooperative Program.

    We should support the Cooperative program because of the moral obligation to support the entities and most of all over 10,000 missionaries that we have voted to support. There is much great work going on within associations and state conventions where thousands of hurting churches are being assisted. It is an object of worth and we must find a better way to show that worth and value.

    4. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

    My word of encouragement to ministers is that you do count. You matter and I speak a word of encouragement to you today. The evil one wants to destroy you, your family, and your church. You matter for the Kingdom.

    5. What has been the secret to your success as an SBC leader?

    I have no secret to success. In fact, I do not see myself as a success. I have failed the lord in many ways and even now am very aware of my inadequacy.

    6. In your opinion, what is the key to getting the average church member involved in evangelism?

    I believe the key to getting the average church member involved in evangelism by example and encouragement. Pastors must set the example and encourage church members to come along beside them.

    7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I be praying for you?

    Please pray that over the next year that we will see leadership which deals honestly with difficult questions and seeks to draw together the factions that are splintering quickly and profoundly.

    Dr. Frank Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, SC.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Jim Richards and David Rogers

    With the announcement that David Rogers would be nominated for the position of 1st. Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I thought it would be helpful to reprint two articles of mine from last summer. Both Jim Richards and David Rogers answered my Seven Questions Series. Personally, I have a great deal of respect for both men and how God is using them in our convention. There should be no fear in voting for either one of these men. I encourage you to allow your choice to be a matter of serious prayer. Only God knows which man should hold this office, because both are qualified. I have listed Jim's answers first because his name came out first for this position.

    "Seven Questions with Jim Richards"
    1. What is your greatest passion?

    Since Jesus saved me at 17 years, He has been my passion. Pleasing Jesus on a daily basis is my desire. I have failed Him many times but He has never failed me.

    2. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

    A strong focus on church planting and evangelism is the greatest need in SBC life. The IMB has been consistent with a strategy. We need that type of strategy in North America. Starting churches that are committed to reaching the lost and reproducing while supporting the SBC giving method will impact Kingdom growth more than anything I can think of.

    3. What type of relationship does the state convention have with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary? Why should someone who feels called to ministry think about attending seminary?

    a. The SBTC is a full partner with SWBTS. Southwestern is supported through the Cooperative Program. The SBTC sends on 53% of all CP operating dollars to the SBC. The seminaries receive about 23% of SBC allocation. SBTC has a scholarship fund for Hispanic Ph.D. students helping to raise more leaders for the next generation.

    b. I was told as a young preacher that you can cut more wood with a sharp ax. While you might be able to get to the woods quicker if you don’t sharpen the ax, you will eventually be overtaken by someone with a sharp ax. Preparation for ministry is important.

    4. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

    Find your strength in a personal walk with Jesus and stay close to your family. God’s work may take different forms but your personal spiritual development is where His power begins. Every pastor’s wife needs her husband to be her friend, lover, and co-laborer not just her pastor. The children need a dad. Remember the church or ministry is always secondary to those two priorities.

    5. As an Executive Director of a state convention, in your opinion, what are some ways a pastor can lead his church to become more evangelistic?

    Leadership by example is the best. Being a personal soul-winner is absolutely essential. A church will never rise above the pastor. Use both proven and innovative methods to reach people. Be intentional. Churches do not grow by conversion without a plan. Get a plan (from God) and work the plan.

    6. What is one trend in Southern Baptist churches that has given you reason for concern? What is one trend in Southern Baptist churches that has given you reason for excitement?

    “Younger leaders” is the answer for both of these.

    a. Cooperation on a large scale is loosing ground. Getting and keeping a “big” partnership for missions and ministry is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, some do not see the value in the Cooperative Program.

    b. Many of the newer churches have a true desire to make a difference in their areas for reaching people with the Gospel. I see commitment, fervency, and sincerity in many who are beginning in ministry. On a visit to a “20- something” church, I experienced the preaching, singing and ministry. If that is an indicator of the future, I believe Kingdom work will be fine.

    7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I be praying for you?

    An important opportunity is before us. We are told that 75-85% of SBC churches are plateaued or declining. We can turn this around. Under God, we must turn this around. A plan is being formulated to help these churches reverse this trend. It can happen. Pray that God will give us insight and resources to make a difference in the thousands of churches that need to be vibrant again.

    Dr. Jim Richards is the Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Please visit the SBTC's Blog

    "Seven Questions with David Rogers"

    1. What were some of the key issues that lead you to serve with the International Mission Board?

    At various stages in my youth, I felt God’s “tug at my heart” whenever the subject of missions would come up. I had several opportunities for short-term missions experience, first with my church youth group, then through several summer campaigns with Operation Mobilization (OM), and, then through a life-changing 2-year experience on board OM’s missionary ship, the M.V. Doulos, ministering in various countries throughout Europe and West Africa. I finished this time sensing God’s confirmation in pursuing a career ministry in Spain. Shortly after this, I met my wife, Kelly, and we began to pray together about the best vehicle for serving Him as missionaries in Spain.

    At that time, we actually decided to go to Spain through another mission organization other than the IMB. After our first term in Spain, however, various circumstances led us to conclude the Lord was leading us to return to our denominational roots, and pursue appointment with the IMB.

    2. What is your greatest passion?

    My greatest passion is seeing the Great Commission fulfilled among all the people groups of the world. Serving in Spain, I am particularly interested in seeing a viable Christian witness established in all of the approximately 7,400 cities and towns of Spain which still have none. I am also passionate about the Body of Christ coming to maturity and unity (per Ephesians 4), and working together towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

    3. What is one barrier that you are experiencing in your ministry at this time?

    The biggest barrier I see in Spain is the stranglehold sin has over the Spanish people, and their reluctance to consider any life change that would imply turning their back on their sinful lifestyle.

    4. What is one thing you would want every Southern Baptist to know about your ministry?

    God is working in different ways in different parts of the world, and at different times in history. But God is still at work. In Spain, and in our ministry, we believe He is doing something new through the arrival of many evangelical Latin American immigrants, new models of church, and greater cooperation throughout the Body of Christ.

    5. What has been the biggest culture change that you have experienced since leaving the States?

    In Western Europe in general, and Spain in particular, the cultural changes are perhaps more subtle than in some other parts of the world. On the surface, things seem quite similar. But, underneath, basic cultural core values are often very different. Things like individual vs. community rights, the importance of enjoying life and spending time with others as opposed to getting things accomplished efficiently, etc.

    6. What are two or three things that you hope to accomplish in the next year?

    A. Begin our first on-going “lay” evangelist and church planter training classes

    B. See significant spiritual and numerical growth in the church plant in Toledo

    C. See some good spiritual growth in all four members of my immediate family

    7. Are there some prayer needs that we could begin lifting up in prayer?

    A. Long-lasting fruit from special evangelistic efforts this summer all around Spain.

    B. That God would raise up some Spirit-filled Spanish and Latin American men and women who are willing to be mentored and trained in evangelistic and church planting ministry.

    C. Protection for our family against the attacks of the Enemy.

    David Rogers is a Southern Baptist Missionary serving in Spain. He has his own blog at love each stone.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    The Great Divider

    This year Southern Baptists are debating over the issue of personal prayer language. LifeWay has recently published a report showing that Southern Baptists are split on this issue. There is great potential that the outcome of the convention this year will be greater division among Southern Baptists. Why have Southern Baptist leaders allowed personal prayer language to become such a divisive issue? Is it someone’s agenda, a lack of communication, or a commitment to uncompromising truth that has caused people to gear up for this theological battle? If this issue divides us, it is for one reason only, Pride.

    There is no greater destroyer and divider of unity and peace than pride. Whether it be relationships in marriage, in a job, in a church, or in a denomination pride divides us. Pride shows itself when I make myself the measure others must live up to. If you don’t worship like me, pray like me, believe like me, look like me, think like me, and act like me then there is something wrong with you. Pride also sees people as expendable when it comes to getting your way. Pride also seeks position and power above purpose and patience. Pride is never wrong. Pride is also prayerless in it's daily activities. When attacked or criticized, pride fights back. Pride will always have the last word.

    Pride must be defeated for there to be restoration in our relationships with God and other people. The first step is to admit that pride has been in control of your life. The second step is to repent of the damage your pride has caused. The next step is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Make Christ the measure and the focus of your life. The fourth step is to commit to spending time with God in prayer. The final step is to view yourself as a servant. Don’t see yourself as a reformer, a hero, a conqueror, a protector of theology, or a ruler but as a servant willing to give your life for others. When you become more concerned about God and other people, not yourself, marriages, churches, and denominations will experience restoration. My prayer is that every messenger that attends this convention will come with a servant’s heart and leave their pride at the door.

    Sunday, June 03, 2007

    Calling For A Recount

    Size is power and the Southern Baptist Convention prides itself on being the largest protestant denomination in America with over 15 million members. I have served as the pastor of four Baptist churches and each church had a flawed system of tracking members. Most churches never removed people from their membership roles. Those that had died, moved away, joined another church, or hadn’t attended in over a year are never removed from the membership lists. Therefore if most SBC churches have inaccurate member numbers, how can anyone truly believe that the Southern Baptist Convention has over 15 million people? Integrity demands that we have a system of gaining accurate numbers of members. Here is my proposal.

    I believe it is important to have accurate numbers so that we can understand who we are as Southern Baptists and what God is doing in our midst. This is a difficult issue because most SBC churches aren’t going to agree to clean up their membership roles. The reason is most members would be shocked and ashamed at their actual number of members. Therefore, the system of gaining numbers must be changed. My proposal is to make SBC membership annual and would therefore need to be renewed yearly. Every year during January, churches would get new church members to sign up for membership to the Southern Baptist Convention and current members to renew their membership to the SBC. This wouldn’t be hard; if we can deliver a Lottie Moon Offering envelope to every SBC member then we can provide every person with an annual SBC membership card. The number of responses in each church would determine how many messengers from that church could attend the convention that year.

    This proposal would solve our numbers problem and give us our integrity back. It would also provide accurate information on each individual, like phone number and address. It will also help the SBC leadership to plan better, understand their data better, and understand our convention better by having accurate numbers. The benefits are too great for us to not take action and change how the SBC number thier members. Finally, an appeal to my readers, I will not be attending the convention this year. If you are committed to making a change, please make a motion that would change from the current way of numbering membership to using my purposed annual membership plan. Please feel free to contact me by leaving your email address in my “comment” section.

    Friday, June 01, 2007


    Southern Baptists are known for their uncompromising stances on spiritual issues such as the virgin birth of Christ, His lordship, and the inerrancy of God’s Word. Southern Baptists have made their voices heard on many social issues by their uncompromising stance on abortion and alcohol. There is now an issue that is both spiritual and social that Southern Baptists are in danger of compromising. The issue is obesity. The biblical word for the problem is gluttony which describes a person who has no self-control when it comes to food. All reports show that obesity in America is on the rise, especially in children. If we don’t deal with this problem we are asking for health problems that could destroy a generation. I want to challenge the Southern Baptist Convention to develop a denomination wide emphasis on health and weight loss. I believe it is time for the Southern Baptist Convention to not only be pro-life, but also pro-health.

    This issue is a personal one. I am an over weight Baptist preacher. In the past I justified my weight in lots of ways. I justified my weight by pointing to my busy schedule. My schedule didn’t allow for exercise or time to prepare health meals because I was too busy doing God’s work. The truth of the matter was that the reason I didn’t exercise is because I didn’t want to exercise. The reason I over eat is because I found comfort in food. After a stressful day at the office, a snack would take my mind off my troubles. The combination of over eating and not exercising is deadly. I found this out the last time I went to the doctor. With my blood work results in hand, the doctor said, “You need to lose weight because your blood results show some early signs of serious health problems. I believe with changing your diet and exercise, we can reverse these numbers.” As I made my decision to take my health serious, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why did I wait so long to focus on my health?” I don’t believe I’m alone. Many people are in my situation. You have made your excuses and you’re overweight. Please understand what I’m saying, “You need to be concerned about your health and get some help so that you can avoid serious health problems in the future.”

    This is a serious issue for us as Southern Baptists. From the Pulpit to the Pew, many Southern Baptists are obese. So how do we create a movement that results in people becoming healthy? Maybe we should consider what is going on in
    New Jersey. Should the Southern Baptist create a task force on fat? It couldn’t hurt, but a task force alone won’t solve the problem. Maybe the solution is making a resolution like Ben Cole is submitting for the ’07 SBC annual meeting. A resolution couldn’t hurt because Southern Baptists need to agree that obesity is a serious problem. Maybe the solution is in creating a website that has articles and information about how to become healthy like LifeWay has done. There are many helpful things on their site, but I still don’t see that being the cure for our obesity problem. I believe this problem doesn’t just have one answer but many. The answer revolves around the local church becoming passionate about the health of our members and our community. For too long, there has been a concern for a person’s spiritual health and not their physical health. The two are related and as Southern Baptists we need to show that we care.

    Pastors and church leaders, change begins with you. How many of your plans or visions for the next year deal with a person health? We need to begin planning events that encourage health and proper diet. Hire a nutritionist on staff or find one that may volunteer some time. Each church member needs to meet with a nutritionist to help them plan their diet. Create accountability teams around weight loss. Create a regular prayer walking night. Open your building to having dance or aerobic classes. Preach sermons of health and living a disciplined life.

    We can help people to avoid serious health problems by taking a stand on this issue. The result will be people will be able to do more for the Lord and live longer for the Lord. It has been said, Southern Baptists should do everything within their power to make sure their members live as long as possible because with the declining baptism rates, once this generation dies there will be no one left. While the statement is very pessimistic it does show my final reason Southern Baptists must respond to the obesity problem with a demonition wide emphasis on health that premates the local church because we care about every Southern Baptist member