Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not so conspicuous...

Apparently what I thought was obvious is not so obvious. Several of my brothers in reading my last post have suggested that I was referring to the fact that the Directory of Reformed Conferences did not include the Miami Pastors Conference or the New Life Bible Conference. Admittedly, these are glaring omissions, but I must give Challies the benefit of the doubt that he would not know about these conferences unless someone informed him. So while these are obvious omissions to us, they are probably less obvious to the vast majority of Challies' readers. Nevertheless, I am still of the mind that there is yet something missing, or better yet, someone(s) missing from these listings that should be obvious to all of Challies' readers. The missing element is the presence of Reformed African-American preachers at these conferences.
I am much appreciative of the conversations that Reformed evangelicals, churches, and denominations are having concerning the rightness and God-glorifying aspects of racial harmony and diversity. I do believe that there is much sincerity and genuineness in the voices and motives of the majority of these Reformed leaders. However, I must say that there can be no harmonization without representation. Until these Reformed organizations and leaders are serious about diversity, not just in their conference attendees but also in their conference speakers, their pronouncements of racial harmony and diversity are little more than an attempt to integrate their pews but leave their pulpits unchanged. Integrating the pew feels good because is soothes the conscience. Integrating the pulpit is the greater challenge because it challenges the heart. Teaching African-Americans is not a problem. Learning from and sitting at the feet of African-Americans, well, that has been a different story.
Looking at the list of conferences as they are constituted currently, the only known African-American speaker is Voddie Baucham, listed on the platform for The Pastor's Conference sponsored by Truth for Life. Admittedly, these list are not complete and there may be more African-Americans listed before the final rostrum of speakers is given. In fact, if recent history is any indication, I am quite confident that at least John Piper and the folks at Desiring God will have at least one African-American among their conferences' plenary speakers. I do commend Piper and Desiring God for being intentional in this regard. Nevertheless, the initial absence of Reformed African-American speakers has caused me once again to iterate the need for Reformed African-Americans to be proactive in devising conferences that speak with our voices, to our concerns (see post La Cosa Nostra part 1, part 2).
So, when my brothers say that the list is missing conferences sponsored by African-Americans, they are actually on the right track. The omission should underline for us the need to continue to develop our own conference tracks while actively participating in the tracks of our Reformed brothers and sisters of a lighter hue, and inviting them to do the same. One day questions of diversity and harmony will belong to former things. One day our conferences and platforms will be so diversified that the question will be if any could recall a time when they were not that way. One day true harmonization will be realized because we see true representation. Until then let us continue to raise the issue while also not neglecting those who have never attended a conference currently on Challies' list, namely the vast majority of African-Americans.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Something's Missing

Over at Challies Dot Com, Tim Challies has put together a Directory of Reformed Conferences which will take place over the next couple of years. The list is impressive and quite informative. I hope to attend my share of them. However, I do have one question. Can someone tell me what is conspicuously missing from that list?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Confessions of Driscoll

Admittedly, I've been putting off reviewing one of the most interesting and yet complex books I have read in a while. Recently I completed reading Mark Driscoll's "Confession of a Reformission Rev." It was not the first book by Driscoll that I have read. Last year I was given a copy of Radical Reformission and I was not much impressed. So when I heard about Driscoll's latest book, I was not eager to put it on my reading list. However, it was creating such a buzz and so many people had such divergent opinions of it that I felt slighted and uninformed for not having read it myself. Thus, I took up the task of giving Driscoll one more shot. And man am I glad I did.
I must say that I enjoyed reading Confessions (no disrespect to Augustine for the use of the one word reference). I particularly enjoyed Driscoll's passion for the gospel, the ministry, and all things kingdom. Driscoll has an engaging writing style that is full of honesty, candor, and humor. I was brought to unexpected laughter several times. This I enjoyed.
Yet, as much as I appreciated the read, I wondered to whom could I recommend it. You see, sometimes Driscoll's honesty is a bit over-the-top and his candor is...well...let me can strain the sensibilities. I also wondered how I could write a review that would communicate those elements that I found most insightful and helpful, while admitting that some elements I did not find as encouraging. Well, to my wonderful surprise, I do not have to.
The other day I received in my inbox the latest edition of the 9marks Newsletter. In the newsletter was a review of Driscoll's books by Mike McKinley. After reading the well written review, I decided that much of what McKinley wrote is a summation of my sentiments and instead of reinventing the wheel, I will just say a hardy "Amen" to McKinley's article. So here are McKinley's words (The Radical Reformission and the Confessions of a Reformission Rev). Listen closely and you might hear me saying "Amen" from time to time.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Back from Florida with Gifts of Grace

We just returned from a weekend trip to Gainesville, FL to fellowship with the good folks at Abundant Grace Community Church and my friend Phil Courson. It was a wonderful time and a most encouraging experience. It was one of those rare occasions that my entire family was able to travel with me and people had opportunity to meet my wife and children. Like most of you, I try not to live under the illusion that anything I am able to accomplish is done by anything but God's grace and goodness. And outside of the grace that has come to me in the forgiveness of sins, the most precious gift of grace has been my wife. I am always pleased when others are able to meet her and to see that she is the one who really makes our home go. She is the one that more people seem to like best (in fact, most of my return trips are after she has traveled with me, coincidence?). When she travels with me, it seems people listen to me more intently because she gives such a blessed testimony and makes friends so quickly. I am grateful today for Abundant Grace hosting us for the weekend. I am grateful to God for His gifts of abundant grace.

On Faithful Preachers

Recently I had the privilege of writing an endorsement for a book by our brother and friend Thabiti Anyabwile, entitled The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors. In the book Thabiti details the life of Lemuel Haynes, Daniel Payne, and Frances Grimke and gives us some insight into their ministries and philosophy through their sermons and life. It is a most encouraging read and I look forward to the publication of this book by Crossway.
Through this book Thabiti has done a valuable service to the church, and particularly reformed Christianity, as he is reintroducing men like Lemuel Haynes to modern Christianity and demonstrating the legitimacy of Reformed theology within the African-American experience. In fact, Thabiti has written an article in the latest edition of Reformation 21 on Lemuel Haynes , giving insight and exposure to what some have referred as the "Black Puritan."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oh Ye of Little Faith...

The Pilgrim's Progress series continues as Christian and Hopeful are gracious brought to the Delectable Mountains and Christian shares with Hopeful the story of Little Faith. Little Faith is one of the most descriptive, challenging, and even encouraging characters in all of Bunyan's allegory. True, he is not the Champion that Great Grace is, or for that matter, Faithful. Yet, Little Faith is a testimony of my heart and how too often I find myself not confidently trusting in the sure promises of God to overcome my doubts and fears. Ken Ham in The All-in-One Curriculum for The Pilgrim's Progress writes:
Bunyan would have us to see that Little Faith is a true believer and not an apostate. He is a true Christian and a child of the King, but he has only a little faith. As far as his own heart is concerned, Little Faith struggles with doubt and assurance of salvation – life is assailed with anxiety and a guilty conscience. The pews of the church are filled with those of little faith. In fact, there is some of Little-Faith in most of us.
There is too much of Little-Faith in me. My prayer this day is that I would not think too lightly of my Savior, who is the beginning and ends of my faith. Spurgeon reminded me the other day:

You may look and study, and weigh, but Jesus is a greater Saviour than you think Him to be when your thoughts are at the greatest. My Lord is more ready to pardon than you to sin, more able to forgive than you to transgress. My Master is more willing to supply you wants than you are to confess them. Never tolerate low thoughts of my Lord Jesus.

I would have encouraged Little Faith to heed these words. I am encouraged this day to heed them. Hopefully you are too.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Reformed Theology on the Rise?

You better believe it! Thanks to the heads up from Justin Taylor, next week we can expect to read a cover story from Christianity Today on the so-called recent rise of Calvinism entitled, "Young, Restless, and Reformed: Calvinism is Making a Comeback and Shaking up the Church." I, like many, will be waiting with bated breath and sweaty palms to read this piece. The comeback that is Reformed theology is nothing more than the filling of the void that was created by a non-descript, androgynous, politically-motivated, theologically-neutral, minimalist evangelicalism that became so popular in the 80's and early 90's. However, that type of Christianity has not produced any of the great political or ecumenical advances it trumpeted. Today young men and women are thriving for more substantive and experiential Christianity. No expression of Christianity combines substance with experience as coherently and cohesively as does Reformed Christianity.
Personally, I am not a fan of Christianity Today. It tends to be less about biblical Christianity and too much about the relativity of Today. But apparently the truth and impact of Reformed Theology today could no longer be ignored. If the article is good, I plan to buy more than one. It may prove to be, as Justin Taylor says, "their bestselling issue of the year."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Great Deal!

Here is a great deal for us bibliophiles. The folks at Solid Ground Christian Books are offering a special collection of books at an unbelievable price. One dozen books which together retail for $110.00 are being offered for $19.95. Here's the deal:

"Pilgrim's Progress: The Accurate Revised Text" John Bunyan, edited by Barry Horner ($14.99)
"Pilgrim's Progress: Themes & Issues" by Barry Horner (List $20.99)
"The Characters in Pilgrim's Progress" by Alexander Whyte ($5.99)
"Person and Work of the Holy Spirit" by B.B. Warfield (List $11.99)
"GOD IS KING" by Tom Wells ($10.00)
"Legacy of a Legend: Spiritual Treasure from Edward Payson" (List $9.99)
"GOLDEN HOURS: Heart-Hymns of the Christian Life" by Elizabeth Prentiss (List $9.99)
"Opening Up Ephesians" by Peter Jeffery (List $8.99)
"Being Born Again" or "The Anxious Inquirer" by John Angell James ($5.99)
"The Master's Blesseds: Devotional Study of the Beatitudes" by J.R. Miller (List $4.99)
"Royal Bounty: A Devotional Classic" by Frances Havergal ($4.99)
"Seeking God" by Peter Jeffery (List $2.99)

You can see more details and order the books at

Friday, August 18, 2006

Christian and the Giant Despair

Our series on The Pilgrim's Progress continues as Christian and Hopeful are captured by the Giant Despair and are thrown into the dungeons of his Doubting Castle. While in the dungeon, they are beaten and neglected until they fear the taking of their own lives. So is the danger of despair in the life of any Christian. Yet, Christian and Hopeful are shook out of their desperate state by the realization that God has granted unto them "exceedingly great and precious promises" (2Pet. 1:4). It is a wonderful reminder of how sweet and awesome is the mercy of God. Spurgeon wrote:
His mercy is so great that it forgives great sins to great sinners, after great lengths of time, and then give great favors and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great heaven of the great God.
You can listen to the latest message in this series by going here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Challies' Thoughts on the Sovereign Grace Worship Conference

In the next day or two I will share a few thoughts from our worship team's attendance at the WorshipGod06 Conference sponsored by Sovereign Grace Ministries. Tim Challies was the official blogger for the conference and has some interesting comments concerning his overall impression of the event. Read them at WorshipGod06 Reflections by Challies.

A Discussion of Black Calvinism

Michael Leach has been interviewed by Roderick Edwards over at The Kingdom Come website. They discuss such topics as:

How the Reformation affected or did not affect black persons.
Why or why not Reformed Theology appeals to black persons.
What it would take to have a "Reformation" within the black community.

You can listen to the discussion by going to The Kingdom Come.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm it!...One book...

I've been tagged by Thabiti for the One Book post. I suppose I need to retire because I don't have the moves or the ability to make people miss like I used to. No wonder I took up golf. Anyway, here is my list:

One book that changed your life: (Besides The Epistle of Romans) The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Not only was it well written but it debunked the popular notions of the Nation of Islam at the time. And I needed that.
One book you've read more than once: The Pilgrim's Progress
One book you'd want on a desert island, besides the Bible: It's a toss up between The Pilgrim's Progress and The Christian's Reasonable Service (4 vols) but if pushed, The Pilgrim's Progress would win out.
One book that made you laugh: The Color of Water by James McBride
One book that made you cry: The Color of Water
One book you wish you had written: The Pilgrim's Progress
One book you wish had never been written: Southern Slavery As It Was (Doug Wilson probably wishes the same thing)
One book that you are currently reading: Notre Dame vs. The Ku Klux Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan (Go Irish!)
One book that you've been meaning to read: Salvation Belongs to the Lord by John Frame

You're IT: Mike Plewniak, Xavier Pickett, Michael Leach

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Can You Handle The Truth?

At the 1st Annual Stone Mountain Conference on Reformed Theology, Keith Tolbert delivered the closing message entitled Can You Handle the Truth. It was serious and sober reminder that our practice should match our confession. If we are convinced of Reformed Theology then it should show in our preaching, teaching, and even church attendance. Forsaking human-centered preaching and worship and embracing a God-centered preaching and worship is something Reformed theology demands not only in word but in deed. If Reformed theology is true (and it is), can we handle it? Tolbert asked this question rather well. What should be our answer?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

WorshipGod06 Day 3

Ed continues...

On today,Friday, Bob Kauflin talked on the topic Pursuing God’s Presence – How God’s Spirit works among us. The scripture reference for this topic was I Cor. 12:1-11 – concerning spiritual gifts. As I was turning to this passage, I began to “clam up” and had concerns about what Bob was about to speak on. Not that I believe Bob was about to speak the untruth or slant the truth, but my thoughts and concerns were the seemingly misuse and overuse of the gift of speaking in tongues, the gift of healing and the gift of prophecy. I immediately began to think, “do I know of anyone at my home church who uses these gifts to edify the body?”. I was anxiously and apprehensively awaiting what Bob had to say.

I Cor. 12:1-11
1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 99to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another)gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10and to another the effecting of )miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the)interpretation of tongues. 11But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

(Here is a summary of what Bob shared)

How many of us approach God like the main character of a biography? We sing about God but don’t expect to encounter Him. The bible is not the biography of a distant and dead God, but He is alive. Scripture reveals a God who is active and can be encountered. Our worship is where we encounter and experience God. It is God Himself, the Holy Spirit who helps us worship Him. In vs. 3, Paul focuses on Christ – no one can say that Jesus is Lord apart from the Spirit. If when we gather the Holy Spirit is actively present to empower our worship for the Savior’s glory, what kind of heart does God want us to cultivate so that we can be aware of and respond to what He’s doing? There are 3 things that we can cultivate in our hearts: (1) A Desperate Dependence, (2) An Eager Expectation and (3)A Humble Responsiveness.

A Desperate Dependence – we need the spirit of God in our worship of God. Paul talked about gifts in vs. 4 (variety of gifts) and vs 9 (gifts of healing). The word for gift is charisma which means gift of grace. There are gifts of grace. It is difficult to acknowledge our dependency. We don’t like to think that we need God’s spirit for anything. We find it easy to rely on our experiences, knowledge and resources. How do we acknowledge our desperate dependant? We ask God for help. We are commanded to pray in the Spirit (Eph 6:18). Prayer is a sign that we are desperate and need to depend on God. Rm 8:26 – the Spirit helps us in our weakness as we pray. His strength is perfected in our weakness. How do we know that we are weak if we are never aware that we are desperately dependant on God? Prayer shows our need for the Spirit.

An Eager Expectation – In I Cor. 12: 6 and 7, Paul says that there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. A manifestation is something that we see. Paul is adamant that to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit of the living God. God tells us that the Spirit sovereignly empowers each one individually as He wills. Trusting in God’s sovereignty is not a reason to think that He won’t move in miraculous ways. In the early church (Acts 4:27), the Christians trusted God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is the foundation for expecting His active presence. What does eager expectation for the Spirit active present looks like? It means listening and watching for the Spirits activities.

Humble Responsiveness – Paul is saying to the Corinthians is there is a variety of gifts and none of them are better than the other. They are all manifestation of His active presence. There is a reason why God tells us to test prophecy (I Thes 5:21). Gifts must be tested before they can be trusted. Unfortunately there is a lot of prophecy that begins with “Thus says the Lord”. Only our God, who wrote the book, can say that. Prophecy cannot replace abiding in God’s word. Scripture is the primary way in which God speaks to us. If you want to hear from God and what He is saying, read your Bible. Yet the Scripture says that the Spirit gives a variety of gifts. It’s hard to believe that the early church were the only ones who were supposed to receive these gifts. So how do we humbly respond? What ways does God want to work through you to build up the church? Romans 12 fills out the list of gifts.

Let’s not make the make the mistake of the 1 Corinthian church of exalting certain manifestation of the Spirit works over others. On the other hand, let’s not fail to recognize, appreciate or respond to the Spirit’s active presence in our mist. Let’s not fail to experience all that God has for us. The Spirit is actively working in our lives all the time.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Worship06 Conference (Day 2)

Ed continues...

WOW, what a fulfilling day this has been from this awesome and rich conference. Before I retire for the evening, I will share a small summary of today’s teachings and learnings.

The Glory of His Presence theme continues as Mark Mullery spoke this morning (Thursday) on Jesus Christ being our access into the holy place. If you recall on yesterday, Jeff dealt with Where God has chosen to dwell among His people. Well today Mark spoke on When has God chosen to dwell among His people.

Hebrews 10:19-22 - 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

As believers, we can have the confidence to enter, without hesitation, the most Holy Place, today, because of the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s right; we can be with God today. As a worship leader, I was reminded that only One Person, and that Person is not me, can bring believers into the presence of God. That Person is Jesus Christ through the shedding of His blood. My confidence in leading worship is found in Jesus’ blood.

When Mark was sharing these verses, my mind began to think, “Where exactly is this ‘Holy Place’”? I only had to think back one chapter to Hebrews 9:22 – Christ didn’t enter the so called earthly version of the Holy place, He entered the real deal: Heaven itself (For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of true one, but into heaven itself)

OK, let’s reread Hebrew 10:19-22 again. Did you reread it? “Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God”. Who needs a priest? Well I realized today that I need one. God could have chosen to execute people in His way of dealing with sin, but He chose to deal with sin through sacrifices. The high priest’s job was to enter the holy place and to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. Jesus is my high priest who offered one sacrifice for my sins forever and sat down at the right hand of God (Heb 10:12). Since I have a great high priest, I can draw near to God and worship Him and He can dwell with me. God chose to dwell with His people because one day He chose not to dwell with His son. O how He desires to dwell with us.

Tonight at the session, Bob Kauflin interviewed Keith and Kristyn Getty. Keith is the writer of some of our modern hymns we sing today such as In Christ Alone and How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. On tomorrow night, Keith and Kristyn will give a concert – can’t wait for this.

Following this interview, we were once again privileged to hear God’s word. Tonight, Craig Cabaniss, senior pastor of Grace Church in Frisco, Texas preached on How God has chosen to dwell among His people. How many times have we sung, listened to sermons, and received communion and were not aware of the Savior’s presence? Sometimes it’s very easy to forget this. In I Cor 3:16, Paul asked/reminds the Corinthians: aren’t you aware that you are God’s temple and God is present with you? Craig spoke tonight that God is present with us through (1) His Preached Word and (2) the Lord’s Communion.

In II Tim 3:16 – 4:5, these are the final words of the apostle Paul (at least that are recorded). He is giving a final charge to Timothy. Paul first tells Timothy that the “book” is not the word of man but is the very breathed-out word of God. II Tim 4:1,2, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word.” This passage defines the purpose of our Sunday gatherings. We gather so that our King may announce through a “preacher” His word. Preaching is not just talk about God. Biblical preaching is talk from God. God reveals Christ to us through the means of preaching. I Thes 2:13 – When you received the word of God, you accepted it for what it actually is – it’s the word of God. When we gather on Sunday, who are we coming to hear? As we listen, what are we expecting? Are we listening actively and hungry to hear God’s word as the gospel is proclaimed? The breathed-out word of God is speaking – not the word of man – not the preacher. God has chosen this means to be present with his people. When God’s word goes forth, God is present.

God is also present through the Lord’s Supper. How is he present? The bread represents His body and the cup represents His blood. What is significant about the Lord’s Supper? Well, our sins are forgiven – we are reconciled to God. I Cor 10:16 – participation means sharing and fellowshipping. Paul is asking is there not a fellowship with Christ in the bread and the cup? Receiving the elements is like coming to the table – a place of fellowship, a meal. God’s presence nourishes us when we receive the elements by faith. When we receive communion, God is saying to us – you’re forgiven. Do you discern God’s fellowship with you during communion? We were once His enemies, but now we are at His table fellowshipping.

You know, there is much more to say about this, and I can write more, but I’ll stop here since it’s getting late and I have to get up early in the morning. In closing, Craig pointed out that we gather together to worship a personal God. We are not just moving through an agenda to make it to the end on Sunday mornings. We cannot honor God appropriately if we don’t recognize His presence. Recognizing and responding to His presence is what worshiping is about. As we sing, pray, preach and take of the Lord’s Supper, God is being worshipped. However, God is not only a spectator; He is actively present and present to speak. If we don’t see that, we’ll miss Him. God delights to speak to us and to be present with us. Anticipate His Presence.

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Worship God 2006 Conference

The WorshipGod06 Conference sponsored by Sovereign Grace Ministries is underway. We have the privilege and pleasure of having our worship leaders, musicians, and technician travel to Covenant Life Church for the conference. This is the second year we have had the pleasure. This year, however, I have asked one of our leaders, Ed Pugh, to share briefly his thought from the conference each day. The following is his recap of yesterday. Stay tuned for daily updates from a conference that promises to have an impact on all who attend, and those to whom they are called to minister.

Sovereign Grace Ministries, WorshipGod 2006 Conference Day 1
The long anticipated day and time is here as Southwest Christian Fellowship’s praise team members, musicians, and audio personnel is at the Sovereign Grace Ministries, WorshipGod 2006 Conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland. As we entered into the sanctuary at the Covenant Life Church and began to sing songs such as Grace Unmeasured and Glories of Calvary, I was once again amazed and grateful that God caused us to be there and that He chose us to help bring Him glory. Jeff Purswell, Dean of the Pastors College of Sovereign Grace Ministries shared some words from the topic, The Presence of God. “God’s eternal purpose is to dwell among a people He has made His own.” Jeff unfolded this truth (God’s purpose) by exposing five images (in which I can’t do justice in re-exposing them, but I will list the bullets):

(1) A Garden – this was a temple, a sanctuary and a place where God and man met. Gen 2:8-17
(2) A Dwelling – Exodus 25: 8- God wanted a temple to dwell with His people
(3) A Person – God became flesh and is with us (Jesus was the temple and dwelt with man)
(4) A People – We, the church, is the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:9)
(5) A City – Rev 21:22, John saw no temple, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

One main point that stuck with me was that as worship leaders and musicians, every Sunday we stand in the very precious presence of God – His people – His temple. We have an awesome responsibility to lead, guide and protect God’s temple.

I regret that I have to end this so abruptly, but I have to go because the gang is waiting on me to go.

Stay tuned for an update from Day 2 at the Sovereign Grace Ministries, WorshipGod 2006 Conference.

Because of Him,

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It's Growing!

The Temptations sang a song:

Like a snowball rolling down the side of a snow covered hill....
It's growing.
Like the size of the fish that the man said broke his reel...
It's growing.
Though the Tempts had other things in mind, I am this day excited about the growth of the Reformed African-American presence in the blogosphere because "it's growing." Welcome our brother Scotty Williams over at Réformateur Créole Noir (Black Creole Reformer). With Scotty not only is he Reformed and African-American, but he is Creole as well. I am more and more encouraged not only by the growth of the Reformed Black Community, but even by the diversity therein. Let's keep up the labor and the love my brothers and sisters. God is doing a wonderful work in our midst, even right before our eyes, and we have the awesome pleasure of playing small parts in His grand drama. What a wonder! What a wonder!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Happy 13th Anniversary

Today my wife and I celebrate our 13th year of marriage. I am also reminded that this is my 15th year of official gospel ministry. Both of these anniversaries are reminders to me that I am who I am and I have what I have because of the grace and goodness of God. For 15 years God has allowed me to preach and teach His glorious Word to His people and this sinful world despite my sinful frailties. For 13 years He has blessed me with a wife who patiently loves me and supports me despite my sinful frailties. I preach because God is gracious. I have my wife because God is good.

This past weekend we were able to get away and spend some quality time in the mountains of East Tennessee. We were able to share some time on top of the Great Smokey Mountains, as well as stroll the streets of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (we even sat as people gawked at us while we had a caricature done :-). Also, we spent some time with our dear friends in Knoxville (Joel and Karmen Baker), and were able to fellowship and worship with the saints at Cornerstone Church. Over the weekend I was reminded once again what a blessing it is to have a godly wife. They are rare these days, as more and more women are not striving for biblical womanhood as much as there are striving for worldly esteem. Motherhood is not lauded and biblical manhood is degraded. Yet, this weekend God graciously reminded me of the gift I have in His daughter, my wife. She demonstrates to me and all who know her, what a godly wife is to be. Here are just 3 of the many ideas of a godly wife that she brings to my mind this evening.
1. A godly wife esteems her calling in the sight of God more than her achievements in the sight of this world. What is virtuous in the kingdom of God is often seen as a weakness in the kingdoms of this world. In God's kingdom humility and meekness are highly prized. In the kingdom's of this world humility and meekness are seen as weakness. So too when it comes to submission in women. A submissive wife is highly esteemed in God's economy, but in the world's estimation such women are derided and considered weak-minded and impotent. Yet, if my God is true and every man a lie, then this world can have its strong women, I will take a woman who esteems God's design for womanhood. This is true strength. This is eternally-rewarded strength. This my wife strives after. Our home is happy for it and I am encouraged by it.
2. A godly wife prizes motherhood as God's highest most glorious gift. In the Bible the most lauded and respected women are those who demonstrate a mother's heart. Whether it is Eve, Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, or even the most important woman in the Scriptures, Mary, these are woman who are known for their desire to worship God through children bearing. The world (and too often the church) esteems women who have achieved some great accomplishment great things in the world of politics, business, sport, music, or academics. Yet, the greatest women the world has known has been mothers. The world would commend the wealth and influence of Oprah. The world would commend the power and prestige of Condi Rice. But I will take a godly mother on her knees before God on behalf of her children over these women any day. I thank God my wife wants to be and loves being a mother. I love God for her desires. May we raise up more young women with such God-honoring sensibilities as well.
3. A godly wife supports her husband and willingly identifies with him. She does not consider it degrading to be known as the wife of her husband. The world would insist that she establishes her own identity and thus carve out her own place in the world. Yet, she knows, like Sarah, that her calling and kingdom work is to be at the side of the man God is calling to manifest the kingdom with her. She supports her husband not because he is perfect (far from it), not because he knows everything (hardly), but because she can not do a more God-honoring and Christ-demonstrative service to the kingdom than supporting the man of her vows. And so she seeks to encourage him at every turn. He does not want for attention because she is there to listen. He does not want for affection because her body is his and she longs to have him take her. He does not want for honor and respect because her words to him are full of support and encouragement. For 13 years my wife has been there for me. Today I am a better preacher than I was last year because of God's grace and goodness to me through her. And nothing equips me more for ministry than her loving encouragement and support.
I could go on and on about her. And those of you who have a wife of like character could give similar testimony, I'm sure. However, I fear that too many men and women have bought into the lie that they can have it all - God's esteem on Sunday and the world's esteem on Monday. I fear that we are raising up a generation of young women who know not the glories of submission in marriage and the eternal value and service of motherhood. And thus, we have a resigned generation of young men who are willing to accept less than God's design because they have not had it modeled any different. Yet, I will labor and strive to make sure this is not the case in my home and my church. Will you labor and strive to do the same in yours?
For 13 years God has given me a vision of what a godly mother and wife is to be. The next 13 years will be a testimony to how successful we will be in passing that vision along. I pray by God's grace and goodness, we will see the fruit of his grace in our lives through those he allows us to minister to in and outside our home.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Gospel and its Implication

There is a good discussion taking place over at Pure Church between Thabiti and Rod Garvin on the issue of the Gospel and its implication for social justice and political change. Even my friend Postmodern Negro has chimed in with his usual thoughtful and provocative comments. Reading and even joining the discussion is well worth your efforts.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Christian and Apollyon

Due to some audio technical problems, I have not been able to offer the last two messages in The Pilgrim's Progress series. I do apologize to those who cared about such things :-). However, I am making the latest message, "Christian and Apollyon" available in text form. You can find it in the sidebar under the title Pilgrim's Progress IV.

When the "perfect" comes...

Reformed continuists and charismatics are more and more popular today. If seems that the Reformed community is growing increasingly more comfortable with those who advocate and even practice the continuation of the revelatory gifts of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Cor. 12-13. With the ministries of CJ Mahaney and the writings of Wayne Grudem, the broader Reformed community is becoming less strident concerning these issues. Though the Reformed community has by and large been a community of cessationist, you don't hear many cessationist speaking loudly about the issue. Why is that? Perhaps they have decided that this issue belongs to such a secondary nature, that to discuss it with any seriousness would cause unneeded debate, even dissention. While this is probably a good thing, one has to wonder if we have lost our heart for substantial debate and the consideration of the implications of one doctrine on another. Apparently, however, Joshua Parker has not lost his heart for such discussions. I am glad to read this morning that Parker in, A Critical Analysis of 1Cor. 13:8-12, is taking up this controversial, yet contemporary and appropriate discussion. We may agree that some issues in the Scriptures are less clear than others, however, we must also agree that all issues are worth discussing and debating even if they leave us agreeing to disagree.
Admittedly, there are issues about which I prefer not to debate because I have learned that people rarely change their minds. However, I don't discourage others from debating them because all truth is worthy of our seeking to understand it fully. Simply because I lack sufficient understanding about some secondary issue, does not necessitate that all must have such insufficient knowledge. Thanks JP. Some of us will disagree with your interpretation. Others of us will echo your words and give a hardy "Amen." One thing is for sure, we should all appreciate that all of God's truth is worthy of our discussion, no matter how difficult or controversial.

End Times Begin Again!

As we watch the terrible unfolding of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, many evangelicals in popular discourse are once again prophesying the return of Christ, the revelation of the anti-Christ, and the end of the world as we know it. Leading the way is the ultra-dispensationalist and fictional novelist Tim LaHaye. In a recent interview with Newsweek Magazine, Are These The End Times?, LaHaye suggested that the recent developments in Israel signal that Christ will return in his lifetime (we've heard that before, haven't we?). The interviewer asked LaHaye some good questions, even important interpretive questions to which his only answer was to accuse those who disagree with his erroneous interpretation as "liberal." Everytime something significant happens in the Middle East, the dispensational hawks get a boost in their ratings and the end times begin again. The Left Behind series, like The DaVinci Code, is the worst kind of fiction because it gives the resemblance of being true while seeking to deal with important eternal realities. A more balanced and biblical article on Israel and prophecy is offered by John Piper in Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East and Do Jews Have a Divine Right to the Promised Land? Also, for a good analysis of the Left Behind end times, speculative theology look for the books End Times Fiction and Last Days Madness by Gary Demar.