Monday, October 30, 2006

More on Reformation Day

Here is a Reformation Polka for all of you reformed folka! Credit for this goes to the guys at The Kingdom Come. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Reformation Day

Tomorrow is Reformation Day. In honor of the God's goodness to us in resurrecting the gospel in the church during the Reformation, I would like to suggest to you two unbeatable resources that speak to the truths that so defined the Reformation and the Gospel itself. One is a quote and the other is a book. The book is The Case for Traditional Protestantism: The Solas of the Reformation by Terry Johnson. Johnson examines the five solas of the Reformation and demonstrates their incomparable effect upon the church. This book is a well written analysis of the Reformation and the necessary application of biblical reformed truth upon the church today.

The quote comes from Spurgeon. Spurgeon's words need no introduction or apology. Read and rejoice in the truths we are simul justus et peccator (at the same time just and sinner):

“We are all as an unclean thing.”
Isaiah 64:6

The believer is a new creature, he belongs to a holy generation and a peculiar people—the Spirit of God is in him, and in all respects he is far removed from the natural man; but for all that the Christian is a sinner still. He is so from the imperfection of his nature, and will continue so to the end of his earthly life. The black fingers of sin leave smuts upon our fairest robes. Sin mars our repentance, ere the great Potter has finished it, upon the wheel. Selfishness defiles our tears, and unbelief tampers with our faith. The best thing we ever did apart from the merit of Jesus only swelled the number of our sins; for when we have been most pure in our own sight, yet, like the heavens, we are not pure in God’s sight; and as he charged his angels with folly, much more must he charge us with it, even in our most angelic frames of mind. The song which thrills to heaven, and seeks to emulate seraphic strains, hath human discords in it. The prayer which moves the arm of God is still a bruised and battered prayer, and only moves that arm because the sinless One, the great Mediator, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication. The most golden faith or the purest degree of sanctification to which a Christian ever attained on earth, has still so much alloy in it as to be only worthy of the flames, in itself considered. Every night we look in the glass we see a sinner, and had need confess, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Oh, how precious the blood of Christ to such hearts as ours! How priceless a gift is his perfect righteousness! And how bright the hope of perfect holiness hereafter! Even now, though sin dwells in us, its power is broken. It has no dominion; it is a broken-backed snake; we are in bitter conflict with it, but it is with a vanquished foe that we have to deal. Yet a little while and we shall enter victoriously into the city where nothing defileth.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Here is Love

Many of us have lamented that there is not enough good, sound, and interesting Bible commentary material written for children. Well, we need not lament this condition any more (at least as far as the first six books are concerned). Nancy Ganz has written an excellent series of commentaries for young people on the first five books of the Bible entitled:

These books are a most welcomed introduction to the Bible and parents will find them informative and interesting, even as their children do. I have been reading the Exodus commentary with my children, and will begin using this series as part of our homeschool Bible curriculum. If you are like me, and are always looking for ways to impart the truth of the Bible to your children, here is a very helpful resource. You may find yourself learning as well.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Debtor to Mercy

I am rejoicing to see that there is another reformed African-American who has entered the world of bloggers. His name is Wyeth Duncan and he is blogging at A Debtor to Mercy. Wyeth is an accomplished musician and a brother of good, sound theological convictions. Check out his thoughts and encourage him to continue to spread a word for the supremacy of Christ in all things. Welcome Wy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Out with the Shout!

Scotty Williams, over at Réformateur Créole Noir (Black Creole Reformer), has a good and thought provoking article on the phenomenon that is called "shouting." The article is entitled: Despiritualizing Shouting in the Black Church. Most of us who grew up in the predominantly black church are familiar with this phenomenon and perhaps have even found ourselves as a participate. Scotty sheds some good historical and biblical light upon the subject. It is well worth your time to read and consider. Thanks for serving us, SW.

Monday, October 23, 2006

On Prejudice - Unintentional and Non-malicious

Last night I was on a flight from Virginia after having spent the weekend with my good friends at Sovereign Grace Church in Chesapeake. While on the flight, I observed an interesting, even sobering occurrence of the unintentional, non-malicious racism and prejudice that lies in the heart of the best of us.

I was sitting in an exit row. Across the aisle was lady also sitting in an exit row seat. As the flight attendant was giving her rote lecture (it seems everything these attendants do is by rote, you know, like many of our liturgies) on the responsibilities of those sitting in the exit rows, the aforementioned lady expressed her discomfort with the possibility of having to be responsible for the exit door in the case of an emergency. She requested another seat. The flight attendant was eager to oblige her. Therefore, she quickly began to scan the seats nearby to identify a likely candidate for the switch. She noticed, directly in front of her, was a black gentleman sitting comfortably with two white women. Thinking him to be a prime candidate, she asked him, "Sir, are you traveling alone?" Immediately he responded, "No, I am traveling with her," pointing to the white lady directly to his right. Realizing her blunder, the attendant quickly moved on.

The couple seemed no worse for the wear. They grasped hands and comforted one another with the knowledge that they indeed were together. Immediately, however, I began to wonder if they felt the slightest offended, or if they felt embarrassed for the flight attendant. I found myself experiencing both emotions. You see, there were other men seated in similar proximity whom she could have asked. There were white couples and black couples. Obviously she was not interested in, nor did she hope to, split up a couple traveling together. Yet, I wondered why she assumed that the man she asked was not traveling with the woman next to him. Actually, it was obvious. She did not think that the black man and the white woman were together. She demonstrated what is too prevalent in our society, and even worse, too prevalent in the church. Her question was prejudiced and racist. No, it was not malicious. I do not believe it was intentionally discriminating. Rather it was the racism and prejudice that is just under the surface of most of us, having been so conditioned by a racialized society.

Upon hear her words; I said to myself, "Man, she is so wrong and how inappropriate a question." However, as I was thinking these thoughts, I was convicted in my own heart. I thought to myself, "Would I have asked a similar question in that situation? Did I in first looking at the couple assume they were together?" Unfortunately, the answers I honestly gave to myself were not satisfactory. The attendant was undoubtedly wrong in her approach. Yet, my sin was in thinking that I would have done better. My sin also was that I was not confident that my thinking has been so renewed by the grace and knowledge of Christ that I would have not seen that couple through the same prejudiced eyes. I can not say for certain that I no longer have unintentional, non-malicious prejudice and racism in my heart.

This lovely young couple probably is used to such things. And if they stay together, they undoubtedly will experience more. However, I am confident that they will not experience it again from that flight attendant. I believe she learned a lesson. I also hope no one ever experiences a similar behavior from me. I too learned a lesson - one I pray God does not allow me to forget.

Friday, October 20, 2006

No Tongues at Southwestern

According to reports: "The Trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have put it in writing: They will not tolerate any promotion of speaking in tongues on their campus." In a resolution that passed 36 to 1, the board stated:

"Southwestern will not knowingly endorse in any way, advertise, or commend the conclusions of the contemporary charismatic movement including private prayer language. Neither will Southwestern knowingly employ professors or administrators who promote such practices."

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern, stated: "I have opposed (speaking in tongues) for all of these years because I think it's an erroneous interpretation of the Bible. Southern Baptists traditionally have stood against what we feel like are the excesses of the charismatic movement. All we're doing is restating where we've always been."
Dwight McKissic, the lone dissenter in the voting and probably the impetus for the statement, was displeased with the outcome but resolved to stay on as a member of the board. He stated, "My flesh wants to quit, but the spirit of God tells me that I've been called to this hour to do this."
Eric Redmond, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Temple Hills, MD and himself a board member, said, "We interpret the scriptures in such a way that we do not see room for a private prayer language and we're saying we will not waver on that."
Some will surely disagree with Southwestern. Whether we agree with them or not, we should at least admire the fact that they are willing to take a theological stand on an important issue. Clearly the statement is not meant to answer all questions associated with this debate. The statement is open to interpretation. Yet, no one can interpret it to mean that Southwestern is in favor of the practice of speaking in tongues, public or private. This surely was the point of their statement. They made that point. And good for them. This surely will not be the end of the debate, but it will give some clarification to the positions. I believe we surely could use more of this type of theological debate and clarification among African-American Christians.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In Submission to Sovereignty

Let us welcome another Reformed African-American brother into the world of the bloggers. Keith Tolbert has begun blogging at In Submission to Sovereignty. Keith is a good man, who has a very interesting story to tell. Read his story, and give him a visit. We need more men like Keith willing to stand up for Christ, the Church, and the Truth. Way to go, Keith!

Knowledge of the Holy

The messages from this year's New Life Bible Conference, held each year at New Life Fellowship Church in Vernon Hills, IL, are available for order. The theme of this year's conference was "Knowledge of the Holy: On the Attributes of God." You can obtain ordering information by going here. Also, next year's conference is slated for June 21-23, 2007. The theme is "The Godly Life." You will want to mark your calendar and make preparations to attend this growing and edifying yearly event.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Word for the Day

My reading this week has brought an interesting and unforgettable word across my path. I share it with you:

per‧spi‧ca‧cious [pur-spi-kay-shuhs] – adjective
1. having keen mental perception and understanding; discerning: to exhibit perspicacious judgment.
2. Archaic. having keen vision.

In a sentence: "The world should know Christians to be both perspicacious and principled people."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chickens Coming Home To Roost

Recently in an editorial in the USA Today, columnist Steve Kluger wrote, People Like Foley are Gays' Worst Nightmare. He was making reference to the recent disclosure of former US Congressman Mark Foley's escapades and pursuit of young male congressional interns. Apparently Kluger and others are seething over how poorly Foley's actions reflect upon the broader gay and lesbian population. Admittedly, the vast majority of gays and lesbians in America are not pedaphiles or predators. However, it would be wrong to not make any connection between the fundamentally deviant behavior of homosexuality in general, and the uber-deviance of homosexual pedophilia in particular. And yet the connection must not stop there. The rise of Foley is nothing more than the manifestation of the ungodly sexuality that permeates our society. Foley's is the story of the Desperate House Member. And yet his story is undeniably connected to, and indeed a natural out growth of, our society's infatuation with Desperate House Wives.
Once you leave the natural, healthy grounds of heterosexual relationships between a married man and woman, the slope upon which you find yourself is not just slippery, but it is inevitably deadly. Foley is not only the gay communities worst nightmare, he is the worst nightmare of a sexually promiscuous society. He is another vivid demonstration of how the human species never has and never will be able to govern its own passions apart from the gracious and loving commands of God. Foley, and those like him, are nothing more than the chickens of unabashed, unconstrained, God-defying heterosexual and homosexual behavior, that so permeates our society, coming home to roost. The chickens are already out of the pen. Our society has let them out. Therefore, it should not surprise us when they come back to roost.
Sadly, this is lost on some within the predominantly black church (I use the word "church" loosely because such talk could not biblically represent the true Church of Christ). Apparently, Rev. Horace Griffin, an Anglican priest, has written a book Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians and Gays in Black Churches. According to Griffin, "The black church's teaching that homosexuality is immoral has created a crisis for lesbian and gay Christians in black churches. This black-church-sanctioned homophobia produces a lot of twisted black people."
Today, Thabiti Anyabwile at Pure Church has more on Griffin's unfortunate and even pitiful understanding of truth.

From the Reading Desk

It has been awhile since a listed books I have either recently read read or am currently reading. Here is what is currently on my desk for reading:
Promises Made: The Message of the Old Testament by Mark Dever. As we are preaching through the Bible, book by book, on Wednesday evening, Dever's sermonic work not only provided the catalyst for this study, but has been a valuable resource as well.
Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Graeme Goldsworthy. The Bible, though the majority of it is an account of ancient Jewish history and life, it is first and foremost for us a Christian account of the history of God and his redemptive work among His people. If we are going to be faithful expositors of God's word, we must see the Bible as Christian Scriptures.
Foundations of Grace: A Long Line of Godly Men by Steven Lawson. This is the first volume in a series on the history of the Doctrines of Grace. This first volume deals with the Doctrines of Grace in Biblical history and theology. This book and series should prove to be an indispensable contribution to the church's understanding and articulation of these glorious doctrines.
Sound and Fury: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship by Dave Kindred. This is a biography of Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali and their unlikely, yet unmistakable friendship. This book came to me recently as a recommendation from a friend. I have not started reading it yet, but I look forward to starting soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Enter you PIN

I have been out of town and very busy for the last few days and have not had the opportunity to post. When I finally got around to the computer again and to check my email, I found this picture in my inbox. Is this farfetched, or no?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Brothers at Conferences

We are encouraged to see that Thabiti Anyabwile will be the pastoral speaker at the 2007 Bethlehem Pastors Conference in Minneapolis MN on February 5-7, 2007. Great choice, John.

Voddie Baucham's message, The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World, delivered at this year's Desiring God National Conference, is available online - as are all the messages from the conference.

Also, don't forget to register for the Miami's Pastors Conference in November.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

BAD on Arrival

Yesterday I came across an Augustine quote that is vintage Augustine and biblical theology. The quote comes from the Confessions (naturally) and is Augustine reflecting upon his sinfulness even as an infant. He demonstrates that our sinfulness and selfishness is not a learned trait but an inherited one. According to Augustine:
Then I knew only to suck, to repose in what pleased, and to cry at what offended my flesh, nothing more. Afterwards I began to smile, first in sleep, then waking. So it was told to me of myself, and I believed it, for we see the like in other infants, though of myself I do not remember it. Thus, little by little, I became conscious of where I was and began to want to express my wishes to those who could content them. But I could not express them because the wishes were inside of me, and they outside; nor could they by their senses enter into my spirit. So I flung about at random, limbs and voices, making the few signs I could and such as I could, like "though in truth very little like" what I wished. And when I was not immediately obeyed, my wishes being harmful to me or unintelligible, then I was indignant with my elders for not submitting to me, with those owing me no service, for not serving me, and avenged myself on them by tears.

Today I received confirmation of this truth from a combination of John Piper and Michael Jackson (check it out). One thing is for sure, like John says, we are all bad. And like Augustine reminds, we are bad on arrival. Thank God for Grace in Christ. Thank God that Christ lovingly obeyed His parents for me - even as my substitute. Christ is the only baby ever born who was not bad on arrival. Though our Lord is BAD!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Dead Man's Log

Having a brother who is in prison for life on account of murder, always has me thinking about crime, punishment and our justice system. It is not just the human justice system I contemplate, but the righteous, holy, sovereign justice of God Almighty. Recently I read an interesting Associated Press article detailing the way the state of Ohio chronicles the last hours of prisoners on Death Row. One can only speculate what one would feel and do with knowledge that this was your last day and death was coming at a specific hour, even minute, of that day. The state of Ohio apparently is interesting in knowing what men in this condition think and do. They have, since 1999, kept an accurate minute by minute log of these men and their actions. You can read the article and get a sense of what men do under an imminent death sentence. Or, you can walk the streets of your city or town tomorrow morning and see as well. If you want to read what thoughts dead men are logging on the internet, you can read the average blog to find that out. You see, according to Word of God, every human being is born under a death sentence. Everyday they live their lives and go about their business in what essentially could be the day that they find themselves experiencing the eternal judicial punishment of God. Yet, if they realized this, what would they do differently? If they realized that they essentially are no different than the men on death row in Ohio, would they be more sober about their decisions? Would they make appeals to the Judge of Judges, even as the men on death row constantly make appeals to human courts?
Reading the article, I was reminded once of again of the sovereign mercy of God to save, and even pardon death row sinners, of whom I was chief. I was reminded of the grace of God in Eph. 2:1-5:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved-
Now, that's a dead man's log!