Monday, November 29, 2010

GBC Pastors sing Season's Greetings

This nice little gift was sent to me today from one of my daughters who appreciates the pastors of Grace and Providence. It's that season again and this new little JibJab takes a while to load, but it's worth the wait. :)

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Printer's Error on FJ 82

The latest issue of the Founders Journal (Fall 2010) has a serious printer's error that involves pages 6-16. The special 44 page issue is on "Theological Debate Within the Family." It continues the dialogue over the doctrines of grace by responding to some of the chapters in Whosoever Will, a Biblical-Theological Critique of Calvinism, the book based on the John 3:16 conference and edited by David Allen and Steve Lemke.

The corrected version of the journal is being reprinted this week and will be remailed as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience.

A copy of the affected article by Matthew Barrett, "Is Irresistible Grace Biblical?," can be found here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The prayer behind many Thanksgiving prayers

Jimmy Stewart's performance in the movie, Shenandoah, has long been a favorite of mine. His straightforward, common-sense honesty warmly commends his character, Charlie Anderson. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is Anderson's prayer around the dinner table with his family. Despite his best efforts to give thanks, his honest ignorance of God's grace just won't let him.

The result is a comical and insightful glimpse into fallen human nature. Today, as Thanksgiving is celebrated all across our nation by religious and irreligious, my guess is that few Charlie Anderson-like prayers will be vocalized. But the reason for that has more to do with a lack of honest forthrightness than with disagreement with his world-view. His prayer is probably an accurate representation of what's behind many Thanksgiving prayers today.

Those of us who have been rescued by the grace of God know better, even if we do not always demonstrate that knowledge in our attitudes and actions. "What do you have that you did not receive?" asks the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 4:7). As Moses reminded the Israelites, it is God "who gives you power to get wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:18).

As I celebrate this day with family and friends, many of whom I have not seen in years, I want to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, as well. May the grace of God that has been given to us in His Son fill us all with true joy and gratitude today and always.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lead Me

Matt Hammit's song, "Lead Me," captures the challenge involved in one the primary callings that God places on husbands and fathers. A man will not be able to rise to that challenge to spiritually lead his family if he is not wholeheartedly and increasingly devoted to following Jesus in every area of his life.

One of the great need of our days is men who are willing to lead like Christ. For men who are married, it starts in the home. If a church is going to have the kind of leaders that will sacrificially serve in ways that move her forward, then men are going to have to learn to die to self and refuse to abdicate their responsibilities to lead their homes.

If a man fails in his home, he disqualifies himself from serving as a leader in the church.
[An overseer] must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?...Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well (1 Timothy 3:4, 5, 12).
May the Lord raise up an army of such men in our day.

Here is a Sanctus Real music video of the song.

Here is the story behind the song.

HT: Challies

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The unity that comes from knowing "the firstborn of many brethren"

Octavius Winslow has been a great encouragement to me over many years. His writings are full of Christ. Since Reformation Heritage republished his Morning Thoughts in 2003, it has been my favorite book to recommend for daily, devotional reading. Fortunately, Morning Thoughts is readily available on the web, too.

Today's thought is based on Romans 8:29, "that he might be the firstborn of many brethren." It is so appropriate for what is happening today. The recovery of the gospel and its centrality to all of life is resulting in renewed--and sometimes new--fellowship among brothers and sisters who a few years ago would not have regarded one another very kindly. Such fellowship is crossing denominational lines and theological traditions. It is very encouraging to see brothers come together not over political alliances or tertiary issues but on the basis of the gospel.

This renewed fellowship befits the younger brothers of Jesus. It is not a syrupy, spineless ecumenism that pretends we do not have any differences. Rather, it is a robust love for all those who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. Frankly, I do not see how anyone whose love for the Lord Jesus is sincere cannot be encouraged over this renewal of gospel fellowship that is arising out of a renewed commitment to the gospel itself. John says, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him" (1 John 5:1).

Nevertheless, there are some who, rather than join in this movement of God's Spirit, seem intent on undermining with accusations of conspiracies and compromise. I pity such people. Their spirit is contrary to spirit of Jesus and the Word of God. Winslow understood that. And his morning thought for today could not be more timely.

If you don't understand all the talk about the centrality of the gospel, commit yourself to read Winslow's Morning Thoughts for the next year. Even if you are not convinced, you will certainly be helped to see what so many in our day are getting excited about with the recovery of the gospel and its centrality to every aspect of life. The excerpt from today's reading will give you a taste of what to expect.

Romans 8:29, "That he might be the firstborn among many brethren"

The one family of God is composed of “many brethren.” They are not all of the same judgment in all matters, but they are all of the same spirit. The unity of the family of God is not ecclesiastical nor geographical, it is spiritual and essential. It is the “unity of the Spirit.” Begotten of one Father, in the nature of the Elder Brother, and through the regenerating grace of the one Spirit, all the saints of God constitute one church, one family, one brotherhood—essentially and indivisibly one. Nor is this relationship difficult to recognize. Take an illustration. Two brethren in the Lord of widely different sections of the Church, and of much dissonance of sentiment on some points of truth, meet and converse together. Each wonders that, with the Word of God in his hand, the other should not read it as he reads it, and interpret it as he interprets it. But they drop the points of difference, and take up the points of agreement. They speak of Christ—the Christ who loves them both, and whom they both love. They talk of the one Master whom they serve; of their common labors and infirmities, trials and temptations, discouragements, failures, and success; they talk of the heaven where they are journeying; of their Father’s house, in which they will dwell together for ever; they kneel in prayer; they cast themselves before the cross; the oil of gladness anoints them; their hearts are broken, their spirits are humbled, their souls are blended; they rise, and feel more deeply and more strongly than ever, that they both belong to the same family, are both of the “many brethren,” of whom the Son of God is the “Firstborn,” the Elder Brother. Oh, blessed unity! What perfect harmony of creed, what strict conformity of ritual, what sameness of denominational relation, is for a moment to be compared with this? Have you, my reader, this evidence that you belong to the “many brethren”?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

North Carolina association adopts regenerate church membership resolution

Branton Burleson, pastor of Christ Covenant Community Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina introduced a resolution on regenerate church membership to the Carolina Baptist Association of Southern Baptist churches last month at their semi-annual meeting. After printed copies of the resolution were distributed to the messengers, it was adopted unanimously.

The resolution is based on the one adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in its 2008 annual meeting in Indianapolis. It is great to see pastors, churches and associations continuing to affirm this vitally important biblical principle which Baptists have historically advocated. Perhaps the Lord will use this kind of attention on the issue to provoke ongoing biblical renewal in our churches.

Below is the text of the resolution adopted by the Carolina Baptist Association.

On Regenerate Church Membership and Church Member Restoration
October 2010

WHEREAS, The ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle, with Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) describing the church as a “local congregation of baptized believers”; and

WHEREAS, A New Testament church is comprised only of those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ, the local church’s only Lord, by grace through faith (John 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9), which church practices believers’ only baptism by immersion (Matthew 28:16-20), and the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:26-30); and

WHEREAS, Local associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention compile statistics reported by the churches to make decisions for the future; and

WHEREAS, The 2009 Southern Baptist Convention annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,160,088 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

WHEREAS, Those same profiles indicate that only 6,207,488 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures admonish us to exercise church discipline as we seek to restore any professed brother or sister in Christ who has strayed from the truth and is unrepentantly in sin (Matthew 18:15-35; Galatians 6:1); and

WHEREAS, The messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urged our churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s lordship for all members; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches of the Carolina Baptist Association meeting at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina, October 26, 2010 to maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the churches of the Carolina Baptist Association to repent of any failure among us to live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership and any failure to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we humbly encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, even if such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge the churches of the Carolina Baptist Association and their pastors to implement a plan to minister to, counsel, and restore wayward church members based upon the commands and principles given in the Word of God (Matthew 18:15-35; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).