Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Follow-up on last week's message--"husband of one wife"

Last Sunday, 7/24, I dealt with the lists of qualifications for leaders in 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1.  Obviously, it was an overview.  You can listen to the message & get the accompanying note sheet at

I just received an article by Steve Cornell in which he deals with one of the more contrversial qualifications, "the husband of one wife."
It is worth the read.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


John Stott Anglican Pastor and prolific writer just died.
Stott's influence reached far beyond the Anglican fellowship.  His books and articles have been a help to many.
In particular I found his commentary of 1 John of great help in understanding--to the extent I do--and preaching from that book.

Christianity reposted an interview with Stott from 15 years ago.  It is wide-ranging and thought-provoking. 
Below is a  quote that I especially like.
"If we can recover true expository preaching as being not only exegesis but an exposition and application of the Word of God, then congregations will learn it from us preachers and go and do the same thing themselves. We need to help our congregations to grasp and use the hermeneutical principles that we are using ourselves. We need to be so careful in the development of our evangelical hermeneutic that the congregation says, "Yes, I see it. That is what the text means, and it couldn't mean anything else."
The worst kind of preaching allows people to say, "Well, I'm sorry, I don't agree with you. I think you're twisting the Scripture.""

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Watch where you are going!

I often read Charles Wood's, Woodchuck's several-times-a-week email.
He describes himself as "Retired pastor and educator, current husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, Bible teacher, writer and contrarian."  Charles is in his retirement years.  You can write him at, and request to be put on his mailing list.

Part of today's Woodchuck's Den jumped out at me.


     Every time I hear the words vision and drive, I am reminded of an amusing exchange I had with my eye doctor some time ago. I asked him if it was really safe for me to drive.  He answered with a question, “Do you see the cars before you hit them?”  I replied, “I haven’t even come close to hitting a car.”  He said, “Then you are perfectly capable of driving safely.”  He then paused for a moment and said, “In fact, your vision is as good as 75% of the people your age currently driving.”  My response?  “I think maybe I’ll just stay here in the office for good; it’s dangerous out there.”

     This is just an introduction to some things that increasingly bother me in the conservative evangelical and fundamentalist movements.  There are a lot of people who are driving while looking in their rearview mirrors when they should be looking through the windshield.  What do I mean?  Now the past in Christianity was pretty good for most of us, but it was never the golden age that some would make it.  Even if it were, however, there is no way we are going to go back to it or even replicate it in any meaningful way.  Our world - including the evangelical portion of it - is changing at such a rapid pace that I think it resembles a carousel on speed, Where change contradicts or seeks to attack the basics of Scripture (think Love Wins, BioLogos, and the numerous attacks on inerrancy), I will continue to resist it and insist that we must look at the rearview mirror of historical theology from time to time.  Where there is no genuinely Biblical issue involved, however, I think we have to keep our focus on the windshield, or we will quickly become irrelevant.
     Change that doesn’t challenge the unchanging God and His infallible Word is an absolute given.  Our reaction to it is not.  We can resent it, resist it or deny it, but we can’t stop it.  It seems far wiser to evaluate it, respond intelligently to it and manage it.
Tradition probably has more to teach us than some of us are willing to learn, but a life focused on the past is going to cause us problems and keep us from ministering to anyone other than those who already believe as we do.  Your church has changed?  So has the world to which it is trying to minister.  If all church is about is giving us more information and making us feel good, I guess it is ok to drive by the rear view mirror.  If we are going to reach people that live in the world of today, however, we had better get our eyes off what is behind us and start looking to the future.  The rearview mirror has its purposes, but safe and successful driving depends on looking ahead, through the windshield, to the future.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Peace at any cost is too high a price.

Barton Gingerich spent his High School years at Covington Bible Church.  It is always good to see him when he is here in town.
He has a keen mind and a sharp wit.  Most importantly, he loves the Lord.
Bart recently began work with the Institute for Religion and Democracy. A recent assignment to cover the Convention of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America resulted in an excellent article.  The article contained some good news, such as, "It’s good to know that the divine Son of God makes the top four in the Religious Left." but mostly not so much.  You need to read it.

Good job, Bart!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth of July:

Surely it is a sign of my age, but I have a big problem wrapping my mind around the fact that this is the Fourth of July weekend. It is--fireworks and all.

This weekend is personally significant for me for several reasons:

  • My lovely wife is on her way back from an 8-day visit with some of her family, so this weekend is a much longed for reunion.
  • My daughter-in-law and grandson are in Wales having an incredibly blessed time with a team from their church, First Baptist of West Monroe.  (They represent the incredible missionary heritage of our land.)
  • My friends, coworkers, and missionaries to Central-America are traveling back to the US for furlough.  It may be the first Fourth of July fireworks their kids will see.
We recognize the birth of our nation, though, for reasons that ought to be important to us all.
There are some excellent reasons for us to rejoice in God's blessing on our nation.  (For my friends who salute flags other than the "Stars & Stripes," I hope you can say the same about your country.  I don't say these things to say my nation is "better than;" I simply rejoice in God's goodness.)
  • Here in the USA we have the freedom to worship as we choose.
  • God has blessed us with a bounty of natural beauty and resources.
  • We have an impressive heritage.  Our nation ". . . conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . . under God . . . [with a] government of the people by the people and for the people."  (Lincoln's Gettysburg Address) has not only been a blessing to those of us who live here but has served as a model for many other nations who have found our model of government to be a blessing as well.  In spite of the postmodern tendency to be critical of all authority--ours especially, my observation indicates that our nation has been a good force in the world.
    I was privileged to visit Italy and Germany, including some of the former East.  Had not my dad and his brothers beaten Hitler and 
    Mussolini, those would be different places.  The same can be said of various other regions.  Sure we have made our mistakes and we ought to point them out, but we ought to give ourselves permission to celebrate.  To my friends who disagree, I mean no insult, but I will salute my flag.  When I see the fireworks explode I will be thinking of explosions at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Flanders Field, Normandy, Korea, Yap, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and Manhattan/Washington DC.  I may unashamedly shed a tear. 
  • We have opportunity to make a difference.  In fact, I think, we have a responsibility to do so.
More and more, however, I am convinced that the solutions our nation (and, to those from other lands, your nation) needs are not primarily political.  I do not discount the power of the ballot-box.  I simply maintain that the power of the pulpit-and-pew is far greater.  Our nation is not and has not been great because our founding fathers came up with the perfect form of government.  Our nation has been great because our workable/usable form of government has been empower by a population powerfully influenced by Biblical principles.  

This weekend I'm praying for those who serve in our nation's military, and remembering those who did.  But I'll also realize that unless we maintain the solid morality and ethics that can be seen in Lincoln's address as well as thousands of other historical documents, their dedicated service will be in vain.  "It is for us the living . . . to be dedicated here to the unfinished work"--a work that is not primarily military or political but spiritual.  (quote for Gettysburg Address)

Have a happy Fourth. 

Steve Cornell draws together some good reminders on Freedom,