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New Ministry Opportunity: State Minister for Kentucky State Capitol Community

2015-10-16 15.12.10

I am happy to announce today that through a partnership between Capitol Commission and the Kentucky Baptist Convention I have begun a new ministry serving the Kentucky State Capitol community as a State Minister. For the past fifteen years I have served as a pastor focusing on the ministry of teaching God’s Word verse-by-verse and shepherding God’s flock. For the last 7 and a half years I have served at Farmdale Baptist Church of Frankfort, Kentucky, where I will continue to serve. The opportunity to serve as State Minister allows me to extend that same pastoral ministry to the capitol community (a community that includes elected officials from all three branches of our commonwealth’s government and an extensive staff).

kbc-color4The belief that undergirds this ministry is that the Word of God alone has the power to change people’s lives. The Scriptures are the means that God uses both to save the lost and sanctify believers. Therefore, this ministry will provide weekly Bible studies at the capitol and offer biblical counsel to those who desire this type of ministry.

Additionally, this ministry will seek to provide prayer support for those involved in government. The Scriptures command all believers to pray for those in leadership (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Therefore, I commit to pray for and with the members of the capitol community and to encourage the Christian community of Kentucky to do the same. Please consider your own act of obedience to pray for our state and nation’s leaders by using the Capitol Commission prayer tool Pray1Tim2.org and subscribing to receive a daily email reminder.

For more information about the ministry I will be doing with Capitol Commission, see here. If you would like to partner with us to provide biblical and evangelistic resources to the capitol community, you can make a tax-exempt donation here. Above all, please be in prayer for me and this ministry opportunity.

13 Key Events of Church History

I noticed yesterday that my friend, Dr. Michael Haykin, posted a list of 18 key events in church history on his blog at the website of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. It is a great list, but it reminded me that I recently compiled a similar list. My list is more weighted toward Baptists. Haykin’s list is more ecumenical and reflective of world events that impacted Christianity. There is some overlap between the two with both lists containing the schism of 1054, the Protestant Reformation, and the beginning of the modern missionary movement. It is an interesting exercise for sure. If you had to list 10-15 key events in the history of Christianity, what would they be?
Here’s my list:
  1. Destruction of Temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.
  2. Early Persecution (2nd-3rd centuries)
  3. Early Heresies (2nd-3rd centuries)
  4. Council of Nicaea/Constantinople (325,381)
  5. Council of Chalcedon (451)
  6. Charlemagne becomes first emperor of Holy Roman Empire (800)
  7. Schism of East and West Churches (1054)
  8. Protestant Reformation (1517)
  9. Rise of English Baptists (1609/1641)
  10. Modern Missionary Movement (1792)
  11. Formation of Triennial (1814) and Southern Baptist (1845) Conventions
  12. Charles Spurgeon and Downgrade Controversy (1880s)
  13. Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (1979-2000)

Feel free to give your list in the comment section.

The Day Theology Became Doxology For Me (Or, how God used the music of Steve Green in my life)

In ten days, our church (Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY) will have the opportunity to host a concert with Christian artist Steve Green. This is a dream come true for me because of the way God used the biblical truths in Steve Green’s music to shape the trajectory of my life.

I remember when I was 19 years old traveling on Northshore Rd. just between Martel Rd. and the brand new 140 that connected Oak Ridge and Alcoa, TN. As I drove it was raining and I was listening to a new cassette tape in my car. It was an album by Steve Green titled “The Mission” and I remember the specific song that I was listening to as I drove on Northshore with water falling from the sky in an afternoon shower into the lakes on both sides of the road.  The song was called “The Symphony of Praise.” This was the moment in my life when theology (the study of God) became doxology (the worship of God).

God was working in my life at that time in a number of ways. It was around this time that I was reading The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, Ashamed of the Gospel and Reckless Faith by John MacArthur, and The Pleasures of God by John Piper. And I was listening to God-centered music with lyrics like these:

The composer and conductor of the universe
Steps before the orchestra of God
Creation lifts their finely crafted instruments
As all in heaven wildly applaud

The seasons well rehearsed begin with His downbeat
And on his cue the sun trumpets the dawn
The whirling winds swell in a mighty crescendo
With each commanding sweep of His baton
The oceans pound the shore in march to His cadence
The galaxies all revolve in cosmic rhyme
The fall of raindrops all in wild syncopation
As lightning strikes and thunder claps in time

The symphony of praise
Conducted by the Ancient of Days
May each creation great or small
Lift their voices one and all
In the symphony of praise

Heaven waits in hushed anticipation
The great I AM then turns to mortal men
A massive chorus robed in spotless garments
Offer up their song of praise to Him
The glories of God explode in full orchestration
As all creation joins the thunderous refrain
“Worthy, Worthy
WORTHY IS THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN”
Lyrics from http://www.stevegreenministries.org

Finally, here was music that matched the theology that I had been reading. The greatness of God that I was studying in Scripture, I was now hearing sung in praise to God. This was a pivotal moment in my life! The day when theology became doxology.

STEVE GREEN CONCERT

Steve Green

Steve Green will be in concert at Farmdale Baptist Church on Friday, August 28th, at 7:00 pm. Tickets are available and can be reserved here for only $5.00 each. A love offering will be taken during the concert.

Let’s Stop Talking about the “Good Ole Days”!

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I call for a moratorium on white evangelicals talking about the “good ole days” when the United States was a godly nation. Why? Because it never was. Sure, there were times when on particular issues our nation has reflected certain biblical values better than at other times, but our nation has always been a nation of sinners who have been guilty of grievous sins. Let me be candid, it is easy for white evangelicals to romanticize the past because by and large the previous eras in American history were not marked by injustices to our ancestors. Of course, during every era we have had faithful men of God standing up and preaching the truth, and that’s exactly what we need today. However, when we idealize a particular era while glossing over its sins, we lose our credibility to proclaim the Word of God. Our authority must always be Scripture and not culture, not even 1950s culture.

If you’re looking for the godly era in American history, where will you find it? Not in the 1600s, when those who came for their own religious liberty refused that liberty to others by persecuting any who dared to dissent. Not in 1776, when those who declared all men to be created equal refused to treat blacks equally. Not in 1861-1865, when we fought a Civil War over whether states had a right to secede from the Union to preserve racial slavery as an institution. Not in the 1950s when racism was prevalent and institutionalized and many who sang “Jesus loves all the little children…red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight” verbally and physically assaulted those who had a different color of skin. Not in 1973, when in the name of privacy and personal freedom mothers were given the right to murder their unborn children. Not in 2015, when evidence abounds that deep-seated racism still flourishes in certain quarters of American life. There is no golden age in American history. There are only eras where certain sins are tolerated, endorsed, and institutionalized. The golden age of American history is a myth.

In what I’m proposing, I don’t want in any way to denigrate an entire group of people. Certainly, not all white Christians engaged in or supported the societal sins cited above. In fact, there are heroic examples of white Christians standing beside their black brothers and sisters to speak the truth to power. I also don’t want to discount the tremendous strides in human flourishing brought about by white evangelicals, particularly here in America. There is much to celebrate and remember fondly in our history, but we have to acknowledge the darker side of our past as well. Our past and present is a mixed-bag of both good and evil. We cannot accept one while ignoring the other. To put it more forcefully, we cannot praise the good, without condemning the evil.

We need to realize that whenever we talk about those bygone eras nostalgically, eras in which the ancestors of our black brothers and sisters were enslaved, beaten, hanged, and otherwise mistreated, we are communicating that we would rather go back to the days when white Christians were more respected and coddled, even if that means our black brothers and sisters would be subjugated and mistreated. I trust that most who use this language don’t mean this, but multiple conversations with my black friends indicate that this is exactly what they hear when such language is used.

If the above is not what we are trying to communicate, let’s find a better way to say what we mean that doesn’t communicate such an offensive message. Instead of talking about “Taking Back America” or “Reclaiming Our Culture,” let’s talk about calling all people in all cultures to repentance for their sins. If we do this honestly, we will not only renounce the sins of our day, we will also forthrightly acknowledge and condemn the sins of our white Christian ancestors.

Same-Sex Marriage and the Gospel

Today in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. That’s new. It’s impossible to overestimate the historic nature of this decision and the sweeping ramifications that this decision will have on American life.

What isn’t new is our responsibility to love our gay and lesbian neighbors, to share the gospel with them, and to call upon them to repent of their lifestyle. We are to do this not out of hatred or fear, but out of love. We should love all of our neighbors, friends, and relatives enough to call upon them to trust in Christ and turn from their sin. By doing this for our gay and lesbian friends, we are not singling them out, but are simply delivering the same message to them that has delivered us and will deliver all kinds of sinners.

Marriage as defined by God is still the same–one man, one woman for one lifetime. No court decision will ever change that. I will continue to preach and teach this and will only perform ceremonies for biblical marriages, not because I want to deny happiness to others, but because I believe that the only way for people to be truly happy is to function as their Creator designed them.

What is legal isn’t always moral and what is moral isn’t always legal. In this case, as in all others, let us commit to recognize God’s authority rather than man’s. Let us uphold the biblical teaching on marriage. Let us even more steadfastly proclaim the biblical gospel that declares that unrepentant sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers will not go to heaven, but “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Andrew Fuller’s Dying Hope

On this date (May 7, 1815) 200 years ago, Baptist theologian and pastor Andrew Fuller died. Andrew Fuller was the theologian behind William Carey and the Modern Missionary Movement. His most famous work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, made the case for the universal responsibility of believers to take the gospel to the lost and for the universal responsibility of the lost to respond to the gospel message. Fuller, a Calvinist, had written much against hyper-Calvinism, a distortion of biblical teaching that resulted in a refusal to offer the gospel indiscriminately to all. After preaching what would prove to be his final sermon, Fuller dictated a later to Dr. John Ryland, Jr. In the letter he asked his old friend to preach his funeral sermon from Romans 8:10, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

He went on to say in the letter:

I have preached and written much against the abuse of the doctrine of grace; but that doctrine is all my salvation and all my desire. I have no other hope than from salvation by mere sovereign and efficacious grace through the atonement of my Lord and Saviour: with this hope I can go into eternity with composure. Come, Lord Jesus, come when Thou wilt! Here I am; let Him do with me as seemeth Him good.

After closing the letter, he raised both hands and repeated the same sentiment from the letter with emphasis: “If I am saved, it will be by great and sovereign grace!  I have no raptures, but no despondency. My mind is calm. My God, My Saviour, my Refuge, to Thee I commit my spirit. Take me to Thyself. Bless those I leave behind.”

He then set up on his bedside and said, “All my feelings are sinking, dying feelings.” His wife was noticeably upset, so Fuller added, “We shall meet again. All will be well.”

Fuller’s son, Andrew Gunton Fuller, records his eyewitness account of the deathbed scene when his father joined the heavenly choir.

The dread day—dreaded by all but himself—arrived when he must submit to the test the hope with which he had declared he could “plunge into eternity.” It was (as in the present year) Lord’s day, May 7th. A profound silence reigned in the room. Nothing was heard save the measured breathing of the dying man. He seemed to have lost his consciousness, and to have entered on the borderland between worlds. No one thought now of trying to win his attention, when the sound of solemn psalmody was heard through the wall that separate the apartment from the congregation assembled for worship. His attention was roused; he tried to raise himself. Turning to my sister Sarah he said, “I wish I had strength enough.” “For what, father?” “To worship, child.” “Come, Mary, come and help me.” He was by careful and united effort raised up. He seemed to sing “with the spirit and the understanding” without the bodily accompaniment; then, joining his hands as in earnest prayer, the only words distinctly heard were “Help me!” and within half an hour from the time of rousing himself he joined the “everlasting song.”

Never, perhaps, had the choirs of earth and heaven been in nearer proximity—the dying pastor was the connecting link. If the eye of our faith sees that which is invisible, it will scarcely be a gratuitous imagination that hears in like manner the mingling of heavenly with earthly harmonies as we approach the innumerable company of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect.

Andrew Gunton Fuller, Andrew Fuller. Men Worth Remembering (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1882),188-190.

A. W. Tozer on Spirituality in the Age of Machines

In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer indicted 20th-century Christians for their lack of patience in spiritual activities. If this was true then, how much more is it true today. In the selection below, Tozer describes the contemporary practice and then gives some of its “tragic results.”

The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saints of old, has now no place in our total religious picture. It is too slow, too common. We now demand glamour and fast flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.

The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit: these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1948), 69-70.