Friday, November 30, 2007

The Seeds of Reformation

Question: Where does this statement come from:

We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life.

In case you could not guess, it is taken from one of the historic Reformed confessions, namely the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833. This brief confession was adopted by the New Hampshire Baptist Convention in 1833 and received wider acceptance in many baptist circles around the country.

Now where does this statement come from:

We believe that the Scriptures teach that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith, and newness of life.

No, I have not lost my mind. Yes, it is a repeat of the above question, but I have a different answer. This second statement comes from The Articles of Faith found in the back of The New National Baptist Hymnal published by the National Baptist Convention.

The teaching of this statement on the nature of regeneration actually carries with it the seeds for a reformation in the National Baptist Convention. If men would take up the hymnal from which many of them sing every Sunday and teach themselves and their people what their church has historically confessed, they would find that the God they have long heard preached in their churches today is different from the God of the men who first adopted this confession.

I was raised in a National Baptist church. I attended Sunday School conventions and we sang out of the National Baptist hymnal. Yet, I was never taught that regeneration precedes faith (as the above statement suggests). I was never instructed in the theology that leads me to worship a God who is sovereign and to understand the theological implications for my salvation and life. Yet, all the time the hymnal from which we sung contained these truths, not just in the songs, but even in the confession.

I wonder how many National Baptist churches actually take the time to go over the confession with their people. I wonder how many of them actually instruct their children and youth in the doctrines that outline the confession of their church. I know I was not. If any of you are National Baptist could you tell me your experience with the Articles of Faith?
I find it ironic that the seeds for reformation is in the hands of the people every Sunday. Isn't that just like God?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good News Getting Better

Here is some good news that prayerfully will get even better. We all know how the Southern Baptist, being the largest and most influential protestant denomination, tends to be a trend setter for evangelicalism. For example, if you want to know what evangelical Christians are reading and thinking, check with the large Southern Baptist Church in your area. So, if the current trends suggested by the above-mentioned study continues, can we dare say that we are witnessing and even sharing in a spiritual renewal (or even reformation)?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A (Good) New Blog

New blogs are popping up in the blogosphere everyday. And as we know, everything new is not good. If you are like me, you probably frequently suffer from blog overload. One could spend the better part of one's day just going from blog to blog reading the latest musings of those of us who are so self-possessed as to believe that people whom we don't know would be interested in reading our thoughts. But, as one who does blog (reluctantly at times), I digress.
Today, a new blog has been brought to my attention. And I must say, that while I have really narrowed my blog hopping down, I have added this one to my regular rotation. It is the Miami Pastors Conference Blog (surely you didn't think the conference was going away so quickly). Our brother Jarvis is doing us all a service in creating a blog where he will review the content of the conference, and give us opportunity to interact once again.

Thanks Jarvis. This is a good new blog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not Mincing Words

Today our brother Lance is not mincing words. He has spent some time watching the The Baal Network on television and has concluded that "an appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; and (the) people love to have it so" (Jer. 5:30-31). Check it out, but be careful. Our brother has both barrels firing today.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Real Struggle

One of the ways that African-Americans like to speak of the ongoing fight for equality and against racism in America is to speak of "the struggle." In fact, in order to discern ones sympathies and heart for so-called African-American causes, one is often asked if you are "down with the struggle." Needless to say, the fight for equality for the under-served in this country goes on. Indeed, there remains a struggle to see American continue to pursue the true meaning of her creed, "That all men are created equal." However, there is a far greater and substantial struggle waging that the struggle for civil rights often eclipses in the minds and hearts of so-called Christians. It is the struggle for the hearts of men and women as they embrace or reject the true meaning of the Cross of Christ. It is a struggle to understand the cosmic battle over sin is also and equally an intimate and internal battle in the hearts of men and women. It is this struggle for which the cross, and the Christ crucified on it, was waged and won for His people.

Unfortunately, these two struggles have been so intertwined by some that the latter has lost its clarity and preeminence. Some theologians have sought to use the latter to support the former and thus the struggle for the cross ultimately becomes nothing more than a struggle for Civil Rights. In this scenario, men and women gain the world, but lose their souls. They gain the right to vote, but lose the victory in Christ.

Don't get me wrong, I am down with the struggle. Having been on the demeaning side of racism and prejudice, I know that there yet remains a need for America to be diligent in living out her mandate. However, I am more gripped with the depths of my own sin than I am with the prejudice of others. I am more gripped by the cross when I understand that it was not just racism that sent Christ there, but even the pride, lust, anger, and all other unmentionables that lie in my heart and actions. In other words, as Christians wax eloquently about the struggle, I pray that the real struggle, the struggle within, is not lost or subverted by the struggle without. I pray that African-American church goers and theologians would not seek to gain America and yet lose their souls.

This morning I am particularly moved by this because my brother and friend Thabiti Anyabwile has posted an entry at his blog that I believe to be the most heartfelt post I have ever read from him. As I read it my heart was drawn across the water to that beautiful island where he currently resides. I wanted to reach my hand out to him and hug him and let him know that he has a friend and comrade in me who is down with him in The Real Struggle.

Thank you my brother and friend. For you, if I might borrow from my favorite poet:

The theological woods are dangerous and deep
But our Lord has many promises to keep
And by His grace, we have many miles to go before we sleep
Many miles to go before we sleep

Saturday, November 24, 2007

50 Things I Love About Politics

Recently Comment Magazine asked if I would write a list article giving 50 Things I love about the world of politics. It seems they have published my findings:

When I was asked to set forth 50 things I love about the world of politics, my first thought was that I did not have 50 things I love about politics. However, on second thought, I realized that between things I love and things I love to hate, I had more than 50 things . . .

1. The Sovereignty of God. God changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings—Daniel 2:21.

2. My mother—thirty-nine years of public service as an elected local public official.

3. The President of the United States. Without a doubt the most difficult, public, and fascinating job in the world—wouldn't want it for anything.

4. The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." more

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Michael Horton on "What is the Gospel"

One of the many delights from the conference was the renewed fellowship we had with Michael Horton. Those who have a vision for the spread of Biblical Reformed theology should know well the labors of Michael Horton over the years. He has long been at the center for reformation among modern evangelicals. His life has been dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the implications of the truth contained there in. He was gracious enough to join us in Miami and share with us concerning the gospel. In particular he addressed "What the Gospel Is." Here is a short excerpt from his first message. Thanks Mike. Your ministry has been used of God to inspire others to stand firm and labor for a Modern Reformation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Gospel and the Creation

One of the staples of the Miami Pastors Conference is the ministry of Ken Jones. Ken has long been a stalwart in the movement for Reformed theology in broader evangelicalism in general and among African-Americans in particular. Our admiration for Ken and the labors he has faithfully discharged at Greater Union Baptist Church in Compton CA and on the radio with The White Horse Inn, go without saying. Every year we look forward to the preaching and fellowship of our brother from the west coast.

As you know the conference was on "What is the Gospel". Ken opened the conference with a message on The Gospel and the Creation. Here is an excerpt from his message as he sets the direction his presentation will take. Ken is always clear, precise, and convincing. Here is just a taste of what I mean.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Best of the Time

Since returning from the Miami Conference, I have been consistently asked about my time there. In particular, people want me to explain what I enjoyed the most. Honestly, I am finding it difficult, if not impossible, to describe the atmosphere and the overall experience of being at the Miami Pastors Conference this year. I can confidently say that this was the best Pastors conference yet. Nevertheless, if I had to pinpoint one aspect of the conference that really stood out it would have to be the preaching. The content, subject, and the delivery of the messages provided some of the best reformed experiential preaching I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Over the next few days I hope to upload a few excerpts from some of the messages. First one is from Michael Leach. His sermon was The Gospel and the Fall of Man. Enjoy!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Glory of the Gospel

You may remember back in May I posted information on new weekly radio program, The Glory of the Gospel with Pastor Michael Leach. This coming Sunday Mike will share a few of his thoughts concerning the Miami Pastors Conference. He has graciously made an advance copy of the program available here. Do download and listen to it today. The link will expire in a weeks time. And lets pray for Michael and All Saints Redeemer Church in their efforts to give a clear clarion call of the gospel message on radio in the Atlanta area.

Update: Michael Leach also shares some on his thoughts at the CRC website.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Those Who Were There

Some initial reflections upon the Miami Pastors Conference are beginning to appear in the blogosphere. I have been receiving emails and calls testifying consistently that this was a most ministry-encouraging, heart-warming, mind-challenging, fellowship-building, gospel-proclaiming, and Christ-honoring Pastors Conference. Thabiti Anyabwile has some initial comments speaking to the fellowship and joy that such gospel-centeredness produces. Quincy Jones has some reflections on the ministry encouragement and hope he experienced.

More comments are sure to appear. So be on the look out. If you read them before I do, give a brother the heads up.

Update: Our brother Ebony Puritan has some excellent preliminary comments on the Conference as well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sovereignty of God over the Nations

On my recent trip to Miami for the Pastors Conference, I did one of my rituals when traveling from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport here in Atlanta. Instead of riding the terminal trains (like most of you lazy stiffs) I walked to my terminal because I wanted to enjoy once again the wonderful African Art on display. Everytime I walk route between the terminals, I am amazed and even in awe of the wonderful pieces of art and the message these pieces say to me. They remind me that our God is sovereign over the nations and even though I have no guarantee that those who created these magnificent pieces of art acknowledge the one true God and Savior Jesus Christ, I am reminded that all true and beautfiful things, including the truth and beauty that is displayed in these pieces, are a reflection of the truth and beauty that comes only from Him. If you have never taken the time to observe these pieces, the next time you are in the airport in Atlanta, eat an extra Snickers candy bar and walk rather than ride through the terminal. You will be glad you did. But until then, here are a few of my favorite pieces and the inscriptions on them.

Generation Pyramid by Gedion Nyanhongo from Zimbabwe

The Protected Family by Joe Mutasa from Zimbabwe

The Traveling Family by Amos Supuni from Malawi (personal favorite)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dr Jonas at the Pastor Appreciation Banquet

I just returned from the Miami Pastors Conference. I am still collecting my thoughts and the pictures I will share in the coming days. However, what I do want to share with you today is the ministry of Dr. Hensworth Jonas. Every year on the evening prior to the start of the Miami Pastors Conference, Glendale Baptist Church holds their annual Pastor Appreciation Banquet. This year the banquet speaker was Dr. Jonas.

Jonas is the Executive Director of the East Caribbean Baptist Mission and Presiding Elder of the Baptist Circuit of Churches in Antigua & Barbuda. He is a faithful pastor and teacher of God's word, and a brother on the front line of God's kingdom as it is expressed in the Caribbean. It is wonderful knowing that there are brothers in Antigua & Barbuda standing for Reformed Biblical truth. Below is an excerpt from the message he delivered at the banquet last week. He preached from Psalm 73.

Friday, November 02, 2007

"No!" To Women in Combat

John Piper has just written on one of the most distressing concerns of our modern culture. His article, Co-ed Combat and Cultural Cowardice, strikes at the heart of a society gone mad. Any society willing to sacrifice the lives of its mothers and daughters on the ungodly altar of gender expediency, deserves the punishment of God for its cowardly sin. Where has our honor and dignity gone. Women have long served honorably and faithfully in our countries military, both directly and supportive. However, the move to put women in combat, is more egregious than putting women at nose tackle for the Patriots and Colts game. The punishment and duress a woman would sustain in an NFL game pales in comparison to that which she will encounter on the field of combat, under enemy fire, and potentially in enemy hands. Yet our society is not pushing for a mass influx of women to the NFL. Why into combat? I agree with Piper as he writes:

If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp... read more

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Freedom from Western White Evangelical Captivity

Dr. Soong Chan Rah is unapologetic in declaring that what we need today is freedom from Western White Evangelical Captivity. His message declares that the majority culture in America in general and the church in particular must grapple with the growing minority culture and the God-ordained influence this culture is having on the church. His message is bold and clear. Without a doubt, Rah's message is a challenge. Yet, I could not agree more with his words concerning privilege and submission. So take some time to listen to this message, Freedom to Captives. It will make you think.