Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why some (too many) teens leave church:

This article (link at end) has some overlap with the last one I posted.  Here is a quotation that strikes way too close to home:  ""I felt so badly about what I had done. The last place I felt I could turn was to God and the church." Rebecca ran away from God and from the church just when she needed them most."
I have to wonder how many "Rebecca"s I have known, and how many times I have let them down.

I'm not placing all the blame on the church or my church, but I know we can't escape all guilt.  

Let's be looking for ways to reach out in meaningful ways.  

Here is a place for we oldsters to start.  Let's make sure that we let young people know we care.

Young and old, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Parental Blindspots:

Josh Harris, you remember the guy who became well known for kissing dating good bye, is now a respected pastor.
He recently published a piece, Homeschool Blindspots, written by Reb Bradley, on his blog.  The article was also published in the Virginia Home Educator Magazine.

The article is intended to make home-schoolers think, but all parents, and those of us who promote sound family living need to consider what the article has to say.  
It is one of those articles that appeals for balance and profitable conversation.  The emphasis rings true with me.

Here is the link to Harris's posting:  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Leave their car alone:

Every old black and white movie that had a wedding in it, featured the car leaving the church with a "Just Married" sign and a string of cans tied to the back.  It was a good-natured way of having some fun and wishing the new couple well.  I can remember different times when I saw cars similarly adorned going down the road.  My wife and I would honk and wish them a happy wedding day.
I've been doing weddings since 1975.  Things have gone way beyond a few tin-cans.

  • I've seen cars jacked up and put on stands so when the couple gets in the wheels turn but they don't go anywhere.
  • When my younger son got married it took me about four hours to clean up his car.  I think it took my daughter-in-law's dad even longer to clean her hers up.  The newly weds had wisely planned to leave in a borrowed vehicle, which arrived at the church at just the right time.
  • When that son was just a kid, he was offered an impressive bribe to let the "buzzardly friends" into my garage where the grooms pickup truck was hidden.  It turned out that it was only a decoy anyhow.
  • I've heard of paint jobs on cars being ruined.
  • Some folk's cars are essentially undriveable for a few weeks, while the stench from whatever wears off.  Sometimes it doesn't.
  • I could say more, but I don't want to give the buzzardly crowd any new ideas.
Trust me, I know more about this than the average buzzardly friend.  Wedding days are stressful, especially for brides.  Let's not add to it.

Granted many a groom shows up at a wedding having built up an incredible debt of bad matrimonial Karma.  He has messed up many a car.  He is one of the buzzardly friends that I warn couples about.  To all the other buzzardly friends, figure out some other way to get even with him, leave the young lady out of it.  If she married a guy who did all that to other people, she probably already has enough issues to deal with.
Or, here is a really novel thought.  Show some mercy.

To all of those who do not fall in the buzzardly friend category.  Thanks.  Don't join their ranks.  Dare I say it?  Do what you can to curb their enthusiasm for automotive mayhem.

I figure this has as much of chance of gaining a following as my campaign for President on the Curmudgeon ticket, but I feel better.

If you must do something to the new couple's car, put a $100 in the console.  Believe it or not, it is fun to be nice.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Centrality of the Gospel:

My associate, Pastor Doug Williams, and I were privileged to attend the Centrality of the Gospel Conference held in Charleston WV, last Friday and Saturday.
I wish to the Thank Randolph Street Church, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, the musicians--I presume from RSC--and the two speakers, Burk Parsons and Phil Johnson for their ministry to Doug and I.  As the pastor of a small church I was incredibly impressed with the fine job the folk at Randolph did in hosting this conference.
Prior to the conference my only real point of reference with the conference was Phil. Johnson--he is an integral part of John MacArthur's ministry.  I have benefited immensely from Dr. MacArthur's ministry.  I know that Phil has been the editor of most of his books, and I have read some of Phil's postings on various issues of our day and found them to be helpful.  Phil also had the good fortune to marry a friend of mine, Darlene.  So, since the conference was relatively close, I had friends in the Charleston area where I could spend the night (Thanks Marty & Lee), the registration was cheap (The food I ate was worth far more than the price of admission.) and the conference came along at a time when my spirit was thirsty for some preaching on the Gospel of Christ, I attended.  I wasn't disappointed.  On several levels I found it to be a refreshing time.  Thanks to all who made it possible.
As any of you know who follow this blog, my attendance at this conference also intersected with some searching in regard to Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, and my identity.  (For those who may rightly observe that I'm way to old for an "Identity Crisis," let me say I think I know who I am.  I'm just trying to figure out where that puts me in the nomenclature of Christianity in the 21st Century.  (Note the end of my October 22 post on this blog.)

This conference perhaps made the question more pointed.
The two speakers, in question and answer sessions both kinda seemed to back away from Gospel-Centered as a definition of what the church ought to be.  If I remember correctly, there were suggestions that "Gospel-Centered" is too narrow a focus.  If I understood, I tend to agree with that.
My thoughts/questions were also piqued by a statement in the conferences handout, "The Appalachia region has been long neglected by God-centered, gospel-saturated movements."  If they mean by that there is a need for more, I'll give a hearty "Amen!"  I don't think that is what they meant, though.  It appeared to me that a great deal of ministry that I would regard as Gospel saturated, and God-centered was being ignored or rejected in that comment.  I know a great many ministries in that region which I would regard as God-centered and Gospel-saturated.  Many of these ministries have withstood the inroads of gimmickery that has marked way too much of Evangelicalism.
The same handout contains one of the great old God-centered, Gospel-saturated songs.  "And can it be that I should gain . . ."  I found myself wondering, based on what I saw to be the general ethos of the conference, if the author of that hymn, Charles Wesley, would be considered to be conducting a God-centered, Gospel-saturated ministry?  (Were it only a matter of one 2 day conference I would not raise the question.  This conference is one expression of a considerable movement.)

Let me finish by asking the same question several ways:

  • Is Calvinism an integral part of the Gospel?  (One passage from Spurgeon that was shared from the platform would lend me to think that the answer is yes.  Though, the reading of that passage was accompanied with a statement to the effect that in general Spurgeon did not make a big deal of his Calvinism, put Arminians down, etc.
  • Did John and Charles Wesley conduct a God-centered, Gospel saturated ministry?
  • Is Calvinistic purity a requirement for conducting a God-centered, Gospel saturated ministry?
  • Does the kind of statement made in the conference program create a needless and unhelpful division within the body of Christ?
Again I thank all who made the Centrality of the Gospel conference possible.  My heart was blessed.  These folk were incredibly kind and giving.  Thank you.
My questions are sincere. Should anyone enter into dialog, I hope to learn from the exchange.

To God be the glory!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A definition of Fundamentalism?

I am doing my reading in a Kindle reader on my computer, so I don't have page numbers, but what I'm writing about is toward the end of the book, Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)
It is near the beginning of John Stackhouses response to Al Mohler's chapter--neither of these guys regards himself as a Fundamentalist, yet it appears to me that in essence Stackhouse is accusing Mohler of being one.  (Elsewhere in the book, Kevin Bauder, the Fundamentalist representative, tongue in cheek, tries to protect his friend, "Brother Al," from such a fate.)

Anyhow, it looks like Stackhouse's accusation makes a definition that sounds pretty good to me:

I respectfully suggest that his position is not “confessional” so much as it is “conservative,” and in exactly the way American fundamentalists understand “conservative”: conserving what they understand to be the basics of the Christian faith, regardless of when or by whom in church history they might have been formulated. As far as they are concerned, what they defend is simply what true Christians have always affirmed—and it comes right out of the Bible.  (emphasis mine)

Hansen, Collin; Naselli, Andrew David (2011-09-20). Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) (Kindle Locations 1795-1798). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.