What’s New Out There?

I’ve been insulated as a Primitive Baptist pastor for the last five-plus years, which certainly has its advantages. There’s been a lot of change in the Evangelical world since then and I’ve just now finding out about it. I’ve noticed it mostly in the area of corporate worship, but that is just one of many areas. Being away for a few years has given me a fresh perspective. A few things come to mind initially and I hope to write a few posts about them.This list includes both Baptist and Presbyterian churches we’ve visited.

First of all, there has been a decline in reverence for worship. Now call me a stick in the mud (a term I’ve started to embrace) but since when did ministers stop wearing ties? Since when did members start dressing like they were going on vacation? I understand someone coming in from working 3rd shift wearing work clothes, but most people aren’t in that position. If this were the only symptom I wouldn’t suspect there was a disease, but it goes deeper than that. Worship in most churches has all the gravity of a kernel of popcorn. And this is in conservative churches. Of course this is not to say all churches are this way. But too many are. And the way people dress (at least in the South) is one indicator of how much priority they put on worship. Does this mean you don’t love God if you don’t wear a tie? Of course not. But when the people at Wal-Mart are better dressed than people in the church, it raises a few questions. (more…)

Is she our mom or our babysitter?

“‘He cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church for his Mother,’ said Cyprian, nearly two millennia ago. Perhaps if Protestant churches began acting more like dutiful mothers instead of fun babysitters, there would be fewer youth leaving their ecclesiastical homes as soon as they are out of the house.” – The Christian Pundit blog

Mentally stimulating + heart stirring

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian FaithThe Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

I was not expecting this book to pack the punch that it did. I suspected it would be a book solely about Mrs. Butterfield’s conversion, but it was so much more. She told about her struggles not only coming out of lesbianism, but her struggles in the faith and with other Christians. Her story is beautifully told (she’s an English Literature professor, after all), but the writing only enhanced the powerful story of what life is like when you trust God with everything. I needed to hear what she had to say at this particular point in my life, and I’m sure others do as well.

It’s impossible for a review to do this book justice. In less than 150 pages, she lays out what it means to trust the God who raises from the dead and demonstrates it by personal example. In addition, she raises excellent points about the failures of current conservative Christian culture. She doesn’t criticize as an outsider; she points out flaws as a sister in the Lord that we need to address and strengthen. You won’t agree with all she says, but even what you don’t agree with is edifying to read. Some books are mentally stimulating; others stir up your heart. This brief biographical account is both. If you are soldier in the culture war, you need to read this book.

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The relationship of the Church to the canon

“The canon of Scripture is like gravity: it is recognized by the Church but that recognition isn’t what determines its existence.” – Toby Sumpter

A Hymn for the Church militant – by G. K. Chesterton

Great God, that bowest sky and star,
Bow down our towering thoughts to thee,
And grant us in a faltering war
The firm feet of humility.

Lord, we that snatch the swords of flame,
Lord, we that cry about Thy care.
We too are weak with pride and shame,
We too are as our foemen are.

Yea, we are mad as they are mad,
Yea, we are blind as they are blind,
Yea, we are very sick and sad
Who bring good news to all mankind.

The dreadful joy Thy Son has sent
Is heavier than any care;
We find, as Cain his punishment,
Our pardon more than we can bear.

Lord, when we cry Thee far and near
And thunder through all lands unknown
The gospel into every ear,
Lord, let us not forget our own.

Cleanse us from ire of creed or class,
The anger of the idle tings;
Sow in our souls, like living grass,
The laughter of all lowly things.

Giving the world a reason to worry

Peter Leithart has an excellent message to the Church in a recent blog posting.

“When the Philistines capture the mighty Samson, he seems tame enough.  They mock and abuse him until the Spirit of Yah returns and Samson pulls down the house.

When the Philistines learn that the ark of God is in the Israelite camp, they’re terrified that “mighty gods” contend with them.  But when the capture the ark, it seems pretty tame too.  Then Dagon pays homage to Yahweh’s throne, and plagues and deadly confusion follow the humbled ark goes.

No wonder the Philistines worry to Achish when they discover David and his warriors marching among the Philistines to fight Saul.  He looks plenty safe, but he could turn out to be a Samson or an ark.

The church has the Spirit of Samson; the church is the earthly throne of God; the church is led by the greater David.  She looks weak, but Philistines are right to worry.”

No wonder the world wants the Church to shut up about everything and keep to herself.  She’s a direct threat no matter how weak she appears.

 

How do you get there from here?

I recently finished Allan Carlson, Third Ways, a book on how certain countries attempted to build family-centered economies (and economy that protects and promotes the natural family through its basis on moral principles rather than greed or power).  Carlson is an interesting figure, serving as a family historian and sociologist.  He is a leader of the Howard Center, a family think tank in Rockford, Illinois. 

Carlson has devoted his writing to topics centered around the family.  The major premise throughout his writing is that the family-centered economy has disappeared, with the main culprit being industrialism.  This book is a discussion of previous attempts in various countries to change that.  The first chapter discusses two of the most colorful characters in the twentieth century (more…)

Prayer for the Church – 2

Pray for her sanctification – Hebrews 12:5-6, John 15:2-3, Acts 14:22

  • When we go through tribulations, we have a choice in how we respond.  We either react negatively or positively.  In other words, we trust God or we resist God.
  • We’re told that the Lord sends chastening at times for our benefit.  This isn’t always in response to open sin (as Brother Mike said when he preached through Hebrews). 
  • Sometimes God’s chastening is to help us in crucifying the flesh.  God sends it because He loves us.
  • We’re told that He brings it to allow the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
  • When He sends this to the body, it is for (more…)

It’s Here!

After a good bit of work and preparation, our new church website is here.  We are grateful to Rick Singleton and his web design company, Singleton Technology, for their work in building it.  We thank the Lord for blessing us with great friends.