May 30, 2007

Bringing Us To Manhood Through Preaching

The "Church Planter's Symposium" this weekend, has caused me to read John Calvin's section in "The Institutes of The Christian Religion" on the church. Calvin speaks of the two signs of the true church: the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

He viewed the practice of preaching the Word of such importance that he encouraged that it be honored, even from the lips of insignificant men, for it brings us "to manhood."

“Those who think that the authority of the doctrine is impaired by the insignificance of the men who are called to teach, betray their ingratitude; for among the many noble endowments with which God has adorned the human race, one of the most remarkable, is that he deigns to consecrate the mouths and tongues of men to his service, making his own voice to be heard in them.” Book 4, p285

“Still everyone who listens with docility to the ministers whom God appoints, will know by the beneficial result, that for good reason God is pleased with this method of teaching, and for good reason has laid believes under this modest yoke.” Book 4, p288

“We see that God, who might perfect his people in a moment, chooses not to bring them to manhood in any other way than by the education of the Church. We see the mode of doing it expressed; the preaching of celestial doctrine is committed to pastors.. We see that all without exception are brought into the same order, that they may with meek and docile spirit allow themselves to be governed by teachers appointed for this purpose... Hence it follows, that all who reject the spiritual food of the soul divinely offered to them by the hands of the church, deserve to perish of hunger and famine…. For faith cometh by hearing… (Romans 10:17) Book 4, p284

The Church Edified By External Preaching

This week we are working toward our church planters symposium, June 1-3 where we will attempt to define Biblical church life that all church planters need to establish wherever their plantings may take them. Christ makes us His sons and daughters, and when He does, we need help from heaven. Our inner resources and intuition and wisdom are not enough for we need to be transformed in every area."

Here is John Calvin in "Institutes" on the nurturing external power of preaching in the church:

“The church can only be edified by external preaching and that there is no other bond by which the saints can be kept together than by uniting with one consent to observe the order which God has appointed in his Church for learning and making progress. P286

He says that the people in the church, “…stand in need of external helps…God, in accommodation to our infirmity, has added such helps, and secured the effectual preaching of the gospel, by depositing this treasure with the Church. He has appointed pastors and teachers, by whose lips he might edify His people (Eph 4:11); he has invested them with authority, and in short, omitted nothing that might conduce to holy consent in the faith and to right order.” Book 4, p280

“We see that God, who might perfect his people in a moment, chooses not to bring them to manhood in any other way than by the education of the Church. We see the mode of doing it expressed; the preaching of celestial doctrine is committed to pastors.. We see that all without exception are brought into the same order, that they may with meek and docile spirit allow themselves to be governed by teachers appointed for this purpose... Hence it follows, that all who reject the spiritual food of the soul divinely offered to them by the hands of the church, deserve to perish of hunger and famine…. For faith cometh by hearing… (Romans10:17) Book 4, p284

May 29, 2007

Telling the Providence of God and Honoring our Fathers

The Church family of Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC as well as friends and neighbors provided a Memorial Day Picnic on the Brown farm. It is a unique event featuring speeches by veterans, rides in military vehicles, Southern Bar B Q, in an old fasioned picnic setting. We ask our speakers to do three things not commonly found in modern memorial day ceremonies. First, we ask that they tell a story that praises the goodness of God during their time of service to our country. Second, to honor those who have died and who have served. Third, to preach the gospel with clarity and boldness, for there is salvation in only one Name - Jesus.

We sang America the Beautiful... and more

This year our speakers were Steve Breagy, Ashley Brown (above), Dr. David Lanier, Jim Dyer, Bill Henderson, Buck Bunn, Bill Brown and Bill Snead.

Speakers, Buck Bunn, Jim Dyer, Bill Henderson

The National Guard sent over an Apache attack helicopter - Stole the Show!

We were mezmerized by that Apache... as the looks on the faces prove.

The pilots were good sports and good educators... Thank you CW4 Jack Duffey and Copilot/gunner MAJ Vance Hill

A Sample of The Next Generation Ready to Protect Women and Children

The Marine Corps League of Wake Forest Posted the Colors

Like Bill Henderson said, "If you don't have anything to die for, you'll have nothing to live for."

Special Thanks To:
Lester Barham and cooking team
Homer Buffalo for the stage
Daylight Donuts...
The Bulman family for Breakfast
Mr. Mizelle for the slaw
Luther Howard Perry for the pork Bar B Q
Inez Perry for the delicious Bar B QSauce
My wife Deborah and our children
The people at Hope Baptist
Tim Decker and family from Va.
Dan Page, Piano

Karen Sultan, Piano
Guy and Jake Creep, tent set up...
Austin Cooper, Bugler
for taps
Paul Campbell, Bugler
for Assembly, Mess, Reveille

Three Real Men from Vision Forum

Joshua Harris, Chance Winberry and Nathan Barnes

Over the weekend, three men came from Vision Forum to stay in our home to help us with our Memorial Day Picnic. Five things were observed by all: 1. From the moment they arrived it was obvious that they were looking out for the interests of the Brown family and Hope Baptist Church and seemed to care nothing of their own interests. 2. They looked for ways to lighten the loads of others. 3. They worked happily and were a constant source of indiscriminate encouragement. 4. They worked heartily, as unto the Lord. 5. They worked tirelessly.

And, when it came time to leave, they thanked us for all we had done for them, when in reality, we did nothing for them, while they did much for us.

When the men of Hope Baptist reflected on the behavior of these young men, the conviction was unanimous - let's spend the next few years training our sons to be just like them!

May 25, 2007

Apache Attack Helicopter To Land Memorial Day on Brown Farm

The National Guard is sending a monster attack helicopter this year to our Memorial Day Picnic, piloted by Jack Duffey and gunner Vance Hill. The Apache can carry up to 16 Hellfire laser designated missiles. With a range of over 8000 meters, the Hellfire is used primarily for the destruction of tanks, armored vehicles and other hard material targets.

The four missiles on the left are Hellfire missles while the ones on the right are for smaller targets.

"Daddy, there's a boy outside..."

N.C.Dem. John Edwards Urges Protest Signs at Memorial Day Celebrations

This year, North Carolina Democrat, John Edwards wants us to use Memorial Day to protest the war and is asking people to carry anti war posters in parades and gatherings. Rubbish! I agree with Paul Morin, national commander of the American Legion who said the idea was “revolting.”

We are going do the following:

1. Honor those who died - all day long.

2. Give thanks for God’s help toward them during their time of service.

3. Pray for them.

4. Praise them for their service, and give some of them the microphone to speak.

5. Read the casualty list and have a time of prayerful silence for their sacrifice and for their families at 3pm.

Protest signs will not be appreciated at the Brown Farm on Memorial Day, for our appreciation will be directed to God and to those who served or died.

Dan Heimbach, Vietnam

May 24, 2007

Militant Fecundity

Peter and Kelly Bradrick shown with their first baby. Not shown are their hopes and prayers for fecundity.

"Fecundity" is, "producing young in great numbers, fruitfulness or fertility."

Following is an article by an author who says that a Christian answer to the culture war is to have lots of babies. Kairos Journal reports:

“Procreating for a Demographic Revolution—David Bentley Hart
David Bentley Hare is an Eastern Orthodox theologian, social commentator, and regular contributor to the journal First Things. In an article, from June 2004, discussing censorship, Hart observes the chasm between secular modernity’s obsession with choice and Christianity’s emphasis on true freedom being found in choosing only what is good. He therefore argues that Christians need to get into a culture war, and quickly. The best way they can do this, and hope to win, is by obedience to God’s initial commandment to humanity: Be fruitful and multiply!”

"Procreating for a Demographic Revolution" -- David Bentley Hart

May 18, 2007

2.8 billion lost in 6 minutes on internet gossip

Apple computer was exposed to internet gossip this week and experienced a sharp reversal.

Because of a spoof email sent out by hackers to Apple employees fraudulently announcing that the release of the Iphone as well as the release of Apple’s newest operating system, Leopard, was being bumped back several months investors on Wall Street panicked and the Apple Stock dropped 2.8 Billion dollars in 6 minutes. After Apple announced that the email was a fraud stocks climbed back up all day and ended near where they had been before the panic.


1. Don't instantly assume what you read on the internet is true.
2. People can be mean and it can damage companies, churches and individuals.
3. Rumors can be effective.
4. Verify your sources by referring to original source documents to see if they have been misrepresented.
5. Make sure the decisions you make are based on fact.
6. People who start rumors have motives.
7. Do the right thing: Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11
8. If you repeat a rumor, you may be just as guilty as the one who started it.

Avoid The "Temperate Zone"

R. Kent Hughes writes of the passion of the apostle Paul and how important it is to take action,

“We need, like Paul to have hearts that because of a passion for souls and for God’s glory are willing to run the risk of unwise decisions. Some hearts never risk anything... They desire a temperate zone free from the storms of sin and from the tempests that accompany a life of service. Never burn for the souls of others, and you will avoid rejection. Never suggest a plan to reach the community or the world, and you will never be criticized for it. Never give counsel to someone undergoing the pain of separation or divorce, and you will never give errant advice. But just think of all the heavenly checks you will never cash for yourself or others”

Kent Hughes, Commentary on Acts, p296

May 15, 2007

50% High School Seniors Think Sodom and Gomorrah Were Married

Cathy Lynn Grossman, writing in USA Today, says "Americans get an 'F' in religion"

"The article goes on to say,

"Sometimes dumb sounds cute: Sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.

Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University, isn't laughing. Americans' deep ignorance of world religions — their own, their neighbors' or the combatants in Iraq, Darfur or Kashmir — is dangerous, he says.

His new book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — and Doesn't, argues that everyone needs to grasp Bible basics, as well as the core beliefs, stories, symbols and heroes of other faiths."

Here are two scary implications of these statistical realities: First, when a people do not have an accurate historical context, they are subject to any historical reinterpretation - which is often at the root of tyrrany and persecution of the church. Second, when people are inattentive to the Bible, they become like chaff in the wind (Psalm 1).... or, like Sodom and Gomorrah!

Memorial Day Coming Up - May 28

One of my favorite days of the year is Memorial Day Picnic - the day we honor our veterans and give thanks to God for his kindness toward us.

Great Speeches from 11:00-3:00 From Veterans

Rides in Vintage Military Vehicles

It is an Old Fashioned Memorial Day Picnic for the Whole Family

You will meet re-enactors of various Kinds, like David Lanier - Storyteller, Balladeer and Proclaimer of Good News

You Will Meet Colorful Characters and Old Friends - From All Over the Place - Here is Jim Dyer - Vietnam

For Directions, go to mapquest and find 3721 Quarry Road, Wake Forest, NC 27587

For a fun look at our Memorial Day Picni, Click Here

May 14, 2007

Harvards First Female President - and Other Gender Related Firsts

Drew G. Faust is Harvard’s first female president, first Catholic president and the first president to be appointed with no degree from Harvard. She is an eminent historian and academic leader who has served since 2001 as the founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She will become the twenty-eighth president of Harvard University, effective July 1.

The day after this announcement, Yale followed suit with their first female president, Sharon Kugler. She is Catholic and now the top religious official at the school that graduated Jonathan Edwards, Timothy Dwight and other theological luminaries.

Here are some other firsts in the last year:

Nancy Pelois is the first female speaker of the House in it's 371 year history

Condoleeza Rice, the first female Secretary of State in US history

Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church USA

And, to shift from gender to religion how about this... we now have the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison.

May 13, 2007

Without the Gospel

I am preparing tonight for preaching tomorrow in Acts 21:1-16 which displays Paul's indomitable resolution to face the suffering that awaits him in Jerusalem. What kind of gospel would make a man open himself up to so much trouble? What could be sweet enough to make an urgency like this rise up inside a man so that he would make a beeline to so much suffering. Only something more wonderful than life... The gospel of the grace of God. I was brought to this tonight from reading a sermon by Charles Spurgeon entitled, "A Gospel Worth Dying For". He said,

I know that by Grace we are saved through faith and that not of ourselves—it is the gift of God! What more do I need to know? You may leave this Rock, if you like, my Brother, for you may be able to swim. But I must stay right where I am, for I would drown. When the crack of doom shall be heard, I shall be here, God helping me, believing Gospel of the Grace of God and no other creed...

Without the gospel I would drown...

May 09, 2007

90% Choose Abortion After Downs Syndrome Test

Post christian thinking expresses itself in many ways. Here is one: fetal selection and designer babies are becoming more common, especially with a new test. The sad fact is that when given a test for downs syndrome, 90% choose to abort. A NY Times press release today reads,

"Until this year, only pregnant women 35 and older were routinely tested to see if their fetuses had the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. As a result many couples were given the diagnosis only at birth. But under a new recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctors have begun to offer a new, safer screening procedure to all pregnant women, regardless of age."

On this issue, I received this note from a father in our church who has a beautiful downs syndrome daughter:

Regarding that article about Down syndrome. Do you think that we could save more Downs Syndrome babies by proving that they have a smaller carbon footprint since they can't drive and will most likely live at home throughout their adult years? Have a nice day,

May 07, 2007

Long Term Problems With Gossip

R. Kent Hughes in his commentary on Acts 21 tells a story about one of the key practical problems with gossip. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the judgments against it are so strikingly harsh,

"In an eastern land, a woman repeated a bit of gossip about a neighbor, and within a short time the whole town knew the story. The slandered person was deeply hurt and most unhappy. But then the lady responsible for spreading the rumor learned that it was completely untrue, so she went to a wise old sage to find out what she could do to repair the damage. After listening to her problem, he said,. “Go to the market place, purchase a fowl, and have it killed. Then on your way home pluck its feathers one by one and drop them along the path!” Though surprised by this unusual advise, the woman did as she was told.

The next day she informed the man that she had done as instructed. “Now go and collect all those feathers and bring them back to me,” the sage said. The lady followed the same path, but to her dismay the wind had blown all the feathers away. After searching all day long, she returned with only two or three in hand. “You see,” said the old wise man, “It is easy to drop them, but impossible to bring them all back. Likewise, it does not take much to spread a false rumor, but you can never completely undo the wrong.” We Christians must take this to heart!"

Not only does gossip "go down to the innermost being" leaving the hearer forever affected, it lasts longer and travels further than you might have intended. Prov 18:18

For more on gossip:

Handling Differences

Here are two of my English Puritan heroes speaking about wars between Christians over their differences,

Matthew Henry in his commentary on Acts 21, where Paul is slandered by the Jews says,

“It is certain the least judicious are the most censorious, the weak-headed are the hot-headed.”

In a similar vein his father Phillip wrote,

“It is not so much our differences of opinion that doeth us mischief, we may as soon expect all the clocks in town to strike together as to see all good people of a mind in everything this side of heaven. It is not so much the differences that doth us mischief but the mismanagement of our differences.”

Children are Bad for the Planet - Large Families Frowned Upon

A report from the "Optimum Population Trust", says that those with large families are frowned upon for their unusually large carbon footprint. They call it an "environmental misdemeanor". The report reads,

"HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.

John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT (Optimum Population Trust) and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said:

"The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights.

"The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the
planet would be to have one less child."

The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.”,23599,21684156-5009760,00.html

May 02, 2007

When Fed not Gospel But Philosophy

We just completed our annual Expository Preaching Conference in Wake Forest, and were thankful for the time to re-calibrate and refresh regarding the centrality (and sweetness) of Holy Scripture for the church. In Robert Reymond's book "The God Centered Preacher" there is the following verse that expresses the heart of what we hoped to leave with one another,

"The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.
The hungry sheep, that crave the living Bread,
Grow few, and lean, and feeble as can be
When fed not Gospel but philosophy,
Not love's eternal story, no, not this,
But apt allusion, keen analysis,
Discourse well framed - forgot as soon as heard -
Man's thin dilution of the living Word.

Robert Hammond Adams, (1883-1975)

April 19, 2007

Va Tech Tragedy - The Outsourced Generation

George Barna has written brilliantly that the Virginia Tech tragedy is related to a parenting problem.

Lost in our culture are fathers who walk beside their children and communicate the doctrines of sin and judgment and righteousness and the love of God when they sit in their house, when they walk by the way, then they lie down and when they rise up (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).

Instead we outsource them to the video game, the DVD, the internet, the music feed, the college... Fathers today cast their children out in the great broad road, and there, absent of personal fatherly discipleship, wisdom, love and correction, they fall. There are so many tragic things about the Virginia Tech killings, and much to say about it, and many tears to shed for everyone there. Consider that this 23 year old boy is like millions of others in our land who have been outsourced, simply because everyone else is doing it.

Here was an oursourced boy in a freefall , whose only hope was the gospel, with no one to pull him "out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." Jude 23

Of course, a parenting technique is not what saves a soul from wrath. Ultimately, we cannot trust in our technique, but on the grace of God alone... But, this grace ought not lead us to take lightly the commands of scripture regarding the personal shepherding of our children.

Blessed Communities where Expository Preaching is Common

As a young man I was granted a blessing that I wish for everyone. I grew up in a community with an abundance of Bible expositors. Some of the greatest expositors of the twentieth century lived within two hours of my home. And, each Sunday, our pastor John Tebay faithfully delivered expository sermons to our family beginning in my teens at Calvary Church in Placentia, California. He did this for FORTY TWO YEARS. "Selah"!

Within a stones throw were expository preachers like John MacArthur, Charles Swindoll, Chuck Smith, Henry Morris, David Jeremiah, Kent Hughes and J Vernon McGee. Then, a few hours north was Ray Stedman. John Tebay recommended Stedman to me and he became one my mentors - through his books.

Ray Stedman figures in to this picture in a slightly different way. His greater calling was to teach young pastors around the world about expository preaching. He led a movement of conferences called the “Congress on Biblical Exposition” (COBE) for some years.

The first COBE conference was held in 1982. I was there. Over the next few years thousands of men from all over the United States came to learn how to more effectively exposit scripture. I was one of those young men. I caught the vision and it never left me. I was (only) one of the next generation Ray Stedman was praying for and I would be honored to be a living legacy of what he prayed many years ago.

A short list of the men who spoke at the COBE were RC Sproul, Francis Schaeffer, Ray Stedman, James Montgomery Boice, John MacArthur and E.V. Hill.

Most of the men in the generation who cast this vision of expository preaching are dead now - Ray Stedman, EV Hill, James Montgomery Boice, J Vernon McGhee, Francis Schaeffer and more recently Henry Morris. And I want to submit the idea that it is for my generation to keep the fires burning and to do the same thing that they did.

As a young man growing up in Southern California, I learned that It is a blessing to be surrounded by expository preachers. The community is strengthened, hearts are steadied and souls are nourished by the pure milk of the Word.

Perhaps God would do the same for every community in our day.

Lord give us more churches like Calvary Church in Placentia and men like John Tebay where boys and girls grow up under the blessed ministry of the Word of God. John's careful, warm hearted, passionate sermons were a treasure to me and I continue to live off the nourishment I received.

Here is an expository preaching conference to consider:

April 17, 2007

How to Get Better Expositors In the Next Generation

Proposition: the more expository fathers we have in this generation, the better expository preachers we will have in the next. Preachers and fathers play distinct roles, with different gifts and requirements and limitations, yet they are meant to work in harmony so that the activity of each promotes the other.

Illustration: Matthew Henry's Commentaries were drawn from his fathers expositions in family worship. And when he wrote his famous commentary set, they came partly from his own family expositions. In the preface of Matthew Henry's commentary on Revelation, the editors say that they compiled the commentary from "transcribing the notes... expounded by him in his family or in the congregation..."

Conclusion: As fathers spend their energies in exposition in their homes, their daily work is an investment in the future. And as God ordained pastors and teachers spend their energies in exposition, the church is blessed with a word from God, and "all the families of the earth will be blessed." (Genesis 12:3

Contemplation: Notice how glorious a calling it is for a father to open holy scripture in his home everyday, not only for the blessing of his own children and his own church, but also for the blessing of the church in another era.

April 12, 2007

A Tale of Two Expository Fathers

I have always treasured Matthew Henry’s commentaries on the Bible. They are a rich tapestry of faithfulness to the text, theological depth and warm hearted devotion. How did this commentary series come into existence?

Here is the story:

Matthew Henry’s father, Philip started a daily routine of exposition in the home that bloomed over fifty years later, into one of the finest commentary sets available today.

This father and son duo from the seventeenth century present some of the best role models in Christian history for the dynamics of fathers passing on their faith from one generation to the next. They accomplished this through consistent and careful exposition of scripture – in the home – even with their littlest children. Both were expository fathers.

Philip engaged his whole family in the systematic reading of scripture and barely ever missed a day of it his whole life. He had his children take notes on each section of scripture. The result was that Matthew, his son entered adulthood with a complete commentary on the Bible written in his own hand.

Then, when he became a father, Matthew maintained the exemplary patterns of his father in his own home. The lifestyle in his home was so much like that of his father Philip, that his great commentary had its beginnings in the notes from Phillip’s expositions before his family in his home when Matthew was a mere stripling. Matthew used his handwritten notes to instruct his own children.

Then, Matthew had his children copy down the fine points of his expositions, leaving them with their own personal record - written in their own hand. These simple notes were the beginnings of Matthew Henry’s great commentary series on the whole Bible that we enjoy today. Here is one example of an expository father and a proof that exposition in the home can have a dramatic impact on the church.

Church leaders should recognize the importance of exposition in the home for the long term health of the church.

Of course, Matthew is best known for his wonderful set of commentaries on all of the books of the Bible entitled An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. His warm-hearted and accurate expositions are beautiful testimonies of a son who was walking in his father’s footsteps. George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon used Matthew Henry’s commentaries, recommending them faithfully. One commentator says, “Whitefield read it through four times, the last time on his knees.” Spurgeon said, “Every minister ought to read it entirely and carefully through once at least.” (Charles Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries, p. 3.).

I say Amen! And… what a blessing it would be to have more expository fathers in our own generation stepping up to the plate. And how helpful it would be if there were more pastors rising up to encourage it.

To sign up for an expository preaching conference with this dual purpose, go here,

Why the term "Expository Fathers"?

It may sound strange to our ears for we normally think of this as the exclusive territory of preachers. I use this term, simply because scripture is clear that a father’s primary purpose in family life is to teach his children the glory of the gospel - in all it's radiance. Fathers are given a prominent teaching role that is commanded by God to be engaged every day of the week and all throughout the day. In this sense, he has an expository role. It is the duty of fathers to exult in God and exposit His words, glorify His nature, proclaim His grace and explain His callings.

Here is the biblical case:

Genesis 18:19
For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.

Deut 6 :6-7
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Prov 1:8-9
My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck.

Psalm 78 :1-4
Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Ephesians 6:4
Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…

To become a better expositor in your home, consider this:

April 11, 2007

Expository Preachers and Expository Fathers

A Book for Fathers and Sons

Steven J. Lawson has done this generation of young men a tremendous favor, for not only giving us an inspiring look into the life of John Calvin, but by capsulizing 32 marks of the expository genius that Calvin displays. I hope that fathers and sons read this book out loud together to prepare themselves for a lifetime of handling accurately the word of truth both in the church and the home.

My son and I are reading Calvin's Institutes this year - slowly - and it is one of the most wonderful devotional readings we have ever had - outside the Bible itself.

We need expository preachers today. But we must not stop there, for we also need expository fathers who explain scripture daily in their homes, and who boldly throw themselves upon the testimony of scripture for every area of life - as Calvin did in Geneva - no matter what the prevailing opinions might be.

April 10, 2007

Expository Preaching Conference April 27-28

Why an expository preaching conference?

Simply, to raise up a new generation of Expository Preachers and Expository Fathers. Both are desperately needed today.

For more information:

I believe that for the reformation of the church to occur three things must happen.

First scripture must take center stage of church life and church leaders become fiercely thorough and expository in their teaching.

Second, fathers become bible expositors, taking on the mantle of prophet, priest and king as heads of their households delivering the whole counsel of God.

Third, churches need to be planted that are free from many of the modern secular encumbrances that are plaguing the church today.

The Divine Genius of John Calvin's Geneva
We need a reformation like the one that took place in Geneva in the sixteenth century. Four powerful things happened in Geneva that shook the world and beautified the church. First, fifteen families with an unusual passion for the recovery of the Word of Christ, moved to Geneva and started a little church. These church planters included the families of John Foxe (author of Foxes Book of Martyrs, Samuel Rutherford, (author of Lex Rex), John Knox, John Calvin and several other devoted bible scholars. Second they held fiercely to the practice of expository preaching as John Calvn faithfull handled all of scripture. Third, during a two year super abounding labor of love, they translated the entire Bible into English (The Geneva Bible) and put hundreds of thousands of them in the hands of the common man. Fourth, used they scripture to reform every area of life – particularly family life according to the patterns and commands of scripture. People moved there in droves to get in on the action.

In the midst of this, they resurrected the biblical doctrine of the family. They particularly focused on reforming fatherhood making them the heads of their households and charging them to become the heralds of the whole counsel of God in their households, in the way that Deuteronomy 6 explains.

Steve Lawson expresses the need in this way,

“The greatest seasons of church history – those eras of widespread reformation and great awakening – have been those epochs in which God-fearing men took the inspired Word and unashamedy preached it in the power of the Holy Spirit. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church. Thus, only a reformed pulpit will ultimately lead to a reformed church. In this hour, pastors must see their pulpits again marked by sequential exposition, doctrinal clarity, and a sense of gravity regarding eternal matters. This in my estimation is the need of the hour.”
The Expository Genius of John Calvin, Steven J Lawson, Reformation Trust, a division of Ligonier Ministries, 2007, p4

I couldn’t agree more!

Except, I would add one more thing. Expository fathers are the only thing that can make any reformation sustain for generations. An expository father is one who teaches daily, when he sits in his house, when he walks by the way, when he lies down when he rises up. We believe that reformed a fatherhood will insure the continuation of a reformation from one generation to the next. Richard Baxter touched on this issue with these words,

“You are not likely to see any general reformation, till you procure a family reformation. Some little religion there may be, here and there; but while it is confined to single persons, and is not promoted in families, it will not prosper, nor promise much future increase.”

This is the second year the NCFIC has offered an expository preaching conference. Last year, I was heartened that several of the conferees were fathers who simply wanted to do a better job of explaining scripture to their families during family worship... I believe that this is how the best preachers cut their teeth.

We are delighted to be able to invite you to participate in this important workshop, on one of the most important subjects before the church today.

Jeremiah on the Emptiness of Worldliness

Thus says the LORD, "What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?" Jeremiah 2:5

Shocking reality: walking after emptiness makes a person empty.

April 03, 2007

Praying for Daughters Near and Far

Here is how I am organizing my prayer for the marriages of daughters.

First, for the young ladies in our church, Hope Baptist.

Second, for young ladies I am aware of in our community and around the country.

Third, for young ladies who may be struggling or are wayward.

April 02, 2007

Prayer and Fasting for the Marriages of Our Daughters

Tomorrow (April 3) many from all around the nation will be fasting for our daughters. I say 'our' because we are all brothers and sisters in His great family. All of the daughters of Zion are our sisters and daughters in a spiritual sense and we are connected to them for all eternity. I trust that these prayers will be a source of tenderness and love toward these daughters.

So now we will pray for them that God would bless them mightily by providing marriages for them for the glory of Jesus Christ.

It is a precious generation of daughters.

Here are some thoughts for your consideration:

First, begin with a time of confession and repentence.

Second, pray for specific young ladies by name. In this way you can labor before God on their behalf.

Third, remember that God often performs miracles many miles away from the places prayers are given.

Who knows how Almighty God might bless them.

Scott Brown

March 27, 2007

A Most Unusual Generation of Young Women

There is an unusual generation of godly young ladies in the church today. I believe there have been few marriageable young women like this in the last one hundred years. At least three generations of Americans has never seen anything like this. What has happened to create this situation?

Here are some of their distinctives:

1. They saw the bitter fruit of feminism and began to understand it’s bankruptcy and destructiveness.

2. They “kissed dating goodbye” and decided in their youth that they would abstain from the modern dating debacle.

3. They trusted their fathers encouragement toward them to fulfill the biblical and normative pattern of scripture regarding the roles of women and began to prepare themselves to be wives, helpers and home makers as a life strategy – in contrast to the feminist vision of independent workers outside the home.

4. They rejected the immodest, worldly but common clothing options of their culture and the Lord put it in their hearts to be faithful to God’s commands regarding feminine dress and modesty.

5. They are striving to preserve themselves sexually for their future husbands, instead of test driving numerous partners before marriage.

6. They are spending their time serving the enterprise of the home as assistants in their fathers businesses and assisting their mothers in the teaching and raising of the children in the home.

7. They were told by their parents that if they were faithful and obeyed, they would be blessed.

8. One of the blessings they are anticipating is godly husbands.

Here are a few related thoughts.

There seem to be fewer young men with the same distinctives.

But, on the other hand, there is also a rising generation of exemplary young men as well. These may be slower in the development curve. There seem to be very few of these in their late twenties, a larger group in their early twenties and an even larger group in their teens.

Here some questions to ask:

What are the responsibilities of fathers in conditions like these?

Should this demographic reality (crisis in the church) serve as an encouragement to young men to set aside unprofitable activities and step up more quickly to their callings? How about instead of pursuing entertainments, extreme sports and games – which are not necessarily evil - that instead, young men prepare themselves to become the heads of households they were meant to be.

Should fathers consider if they are aiding and abetting their sons in things that slow down their maturity and readiness for marriage by their involvement in irrelevant occupations of time.

Should we fast and pray for the marriages of this new generation of unusual daughters?

I say “yes’ we ought to be fasting and praying. I believe that this is a strategic time in history for the forming of marriages for these precious daughters for glory of God.

Many men from all over the country have committed to prayer and fasting on April 3, 2007. Would you join us? Please sign up on this site if you wish

March 24, 2007

Biblical Thoughts About Fasting

Here are three observations to guide our thinking about fasting, and an example in Acts 13.

I. Three Observations from scripture:

First we observe that there is no command in scripture to fast, but Jesus assumed his followers would fast and there are many examples in scripture of the practice that would lead us to participate. Here is a short list; 1 Cor 7:5 (part of marriage), Isaiah 58:3-6 (for love and blessing for others), Matt 6:16-18 (don’t put on the gloomy face of a hypocrite), Daniel 9:3-19 (with humiliation and repentance), Ps 35:13 (for the sick) , Isaiah 58 (for the poor).

Second, there are two kinds of fasts – public and private. We see both examples in scripture. Jesus speaks of fasting and prayer in your closet (Matt 6:16-18) , and there are numerous corporate fasts in scripture (Acts 13, Daniel 9).

Third, there are temptations related to fasting in the area of outward spirituality, pride and trumpeting our works (Matthew 6:16-18).

II. Fasting in Acts 13

1. It was something the whole church did together. The fasting was corporate – the whole church was fasting and praying as well as the leaders.
In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns about fasting to be seen by men and that your heavenly Father who sees in secret will reward you. But here we have a public fast.

2. It was to help with discernment regarding important issues of direction of peoples lives in the church.

3. It caused the spread of the gospel to Asia Minor, Greece, Rome and Spain.

4. It was in response to a need. The importance of this time of prayer and fasting is hard to overestimate. This fast had a dramatic impact on world history, for it launched the first wave of missionaries to the gentiles.

March 23, 2007

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A Call for Prayer and Fasting for Daughters

I would like to invite you to consider setting aside April 3 to cry out to the Lord in fasting and in prayer for the marriages of daughters yet to be married.

If you would like to participate in this please fill out the form above.

I. Suggestions for what to Pray For
For mighty marriages to be formed for kingdom purposes
For daughters to wait patiently for God to work
For young men to turn their hearts toward God with a holy vision for marriage
For fallen or stumbling daughters

A friend of mine has stated quite beautifully one of the motivations for prayers like these,

“What would Adam and Eve’s fruitful oneness have accomplished? The answer at least in part, is a world filled with God-honoring, sinless worshippers united under one purpose: to subdue and rule the world for the glory of God! One can conclude, then, that while the union of the man and woman and the procreation of offspring are immediate ends of marriage, the ultimate purpose is the experience and expansion of the worship of God in all the earth!” Mark Liederbach, Quoted in, Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Fall 2004, p6

II. Suggested Date:
Tuesday April 3
Last meal: Evening meal on April 2, Next meal Evening meal April 3

III. Wisdom from Scripture on prayer and fasting:
1. Isaiah 58 provides abundant wisdom regarding the reasons for and the results of fasting.

2. Acts 13 shows how the united prayer and fasting in the Antioch church changed the course of history with the sending of Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey. God seems to bless His people when they fast and pray, and there is no way to anticipate the good things that can spring from it as God looks down on his pilgrim people as they cry out to Him for help.

IV. How to conduct ourselves:
"When you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face, so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you." Matt 6:16

V. When to pray:
1. When you feel hunger, pray and acknowledge your need and dependence upon God.

2. Use the time normally spent for preparing meals and eating, as prayer time.

3. Set aside special times of prayer throughout the day.

VI. What about children?
We encourage you to engage your children in fasting, but that each family should regulate what age is appropriate.

VII. Twelve examples of fathers who cried out for their children
1. Job cries out daily for his children, Job 1:4-5

2. Abraham prays about his and Sarah’s lack of a child, grieving that he had no other heir, Gen 15:1-6

3. Abraham and Isaac on the alter of sacrifice, Heb 11:17-19

4. Abraham prayed for help in finding a wife for Isaac, Gen 24:12-14

5. Isaac prayed about Rebekkah’s barreness, Gen 25:21

6. Jacob at the loss of Joseph, Gen 37:33-35

7. Pharoah cries out for his first born, Exodus 12:30

8. David cries out for Absalom, 2 Samuel 18:1-33

10. David prayed for his son Solomon, that God would grant him a faithful heart to leader Israel and build the temple, I Chron. 29:16-19

11. Solomon cries out for his son through the entire book of Proverbs, 1:10, 3:1, 3:11, 23:26

12. Man with a demon possessed son cries out, Mark 9:14-29

Principle: We ought to cry out for our sons and daughters daily.

March 20, 2007

Lest We Hang Ourselves on Our Pride in Accomplishment

John Owen, Author of "Mortification of Sin"

This morning, Aaron Sultan, one of the men at Hope Baptist, led us in our weekly early morning discussion of John Owen's, "Mortification of Sin." He reminded us that if we missed what Owen was saying here, "we might hang ourselves on our pride in accomplishment."

He reviewed chapter six of the book. Here are a couple of highlights from Aaron's presentation:

What mortification is not… Four things that Owen mentions:

First, Not sinlessness

“It is not the utter destruction and death of sin.”

Second, Not outward improvement

“It is not changing a certain area of your life: “When a man on some outward respects forsakes the practice of any sin, men perhaps may look on him as a changed man. God knows that to this former iniquity he has added cursed hypocrisy, and is not on a safer path to hell than he was before.’ p70

Third, Not a suppression of passion

It “is not the improvement of a quiet sedate tenure… “let these men cultivate and improve their natural frame and temper by discipline, consideration and prudence and they may seem to themselves and other very mortified men, when perhaps, their hearts are a standing sink of all abominations.”

Fourth, Not occasional conquests over sin or the maturity of old age

“alterations in men’s constitutions, occasioned by a natural progress in the course of their lives, may produce such changes as these. Men in old age do not usually persist in the pursuit of youthful lusts, although they have never mortified any one of them.”p71

March 16, 2007

Marriage "For the Expansion of the Worship of God in All the Earth"

Tonight is the first session of our Hope Baptist Church Marriage Weekend.

We will begin this evening with "A Story about a Married Couple", and then a talk entitled,

"The Shared Mission of Marriage."

Mark Liederbach comments on one particular aspect of this concept with these words,

What would Adam and Eve’s fruitful oneness have accomplished? The answer at least in part, is a world filled with God-honoring, sinless worshippers united under one purpose: to subdue and rule the world for the glory of God! One can conclude, then, that while the union of the man and woman and the procreation of offspring are immediate ends of marriage, the ultimate purpose is the experience and expansion of the worship of God in all the earth!” (Quotation taken from Mark Liederbach's article, Manliness and the Marital Vow: a look at the meaning of marriage and its implications for men as they enter into the covenant of marriage, in Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, fall 2004, p6)

March 14, 2007

Families - Nurseries of the Church on Earth... and Heaven

Scripture defines very well the way the church and the home were meant to interact with one another, supporting and building up each other. Here is a pastor writing in 1859 on the subject,

"The church on earth is called the nursery of the church in heaven. Christian families are called the nurseries of the church on earth, because in the former its members are nursed and propagated for the purpose of being transplanted into the latter." (Rev. Samuel Phillips, in "The Christian Home as it is in the Sphere of Nature and the Church", 1859)

In contrast the modern church almost seems to have declared war on the family by always separating them for worship and instruction, missions. It segregates them into tight age groups, excluding them from the wider relationships that true families supply. Because of this, there are thousands of believers around the country, in every denomination who are beginning to believe that the modern church is actually destroying families instead of building them up.

When Science and Scripture Disagree - The Puritan View

In the seventeenth century God raised up a wave of people who threw themselves trustfully on the authoritative and perfect Word of God and believed it for what it said about church and home and every other area of life. It was the continuation of the reformation whose fires led to the martyrdom of many.

Robert Boyle, the eminent seventeenth century chemist, identifies the Christian view of scientific inquiry and trustful faith in Christ when he said,

"So when Philosophy [term includes 'science'] and ye Scripture disagree; it is always the safest course to believe what is taught by God; whose exact veracity is included in his most perfect nature; who possesses an Intellect not only of a Superior Order to ours, but truly Omniscient..." (Boyle Papers, Royal SocietyLibrary)

"...the revealed truths, which reason is obliged to comply with, if they be burdens to it, are but such burdens, as feathers are to a hawk, which instead of hindering his flight by their weight, enable him to soar toward Heaven, and take a larger prospect of things, than if he had not feathers, he could possibly do." (Excellency of Theology)

Who is Robert Boyle (1627-1691)? He was an Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and is considered to be among the founders of modern experimental scientific practice. He is most well known as the discoverer of Boyle’s Law that states that the volume of a gas has an inverse relationship with pressure at a constant temperature. He was a devout Christian, and in addition to his scientific work he wrote widely on matters of theology and apologetics. He never married, but he did win a large circle of personal friends by his wit and charm.

March 13, 2007

Mortification of Sin, Chapter 4

This week the men of our church were meditating on chapter 4 of John Owen's, The Mortification of Sin and particularly the effects of unmortified sin.

Owen argues that unmortified sin distracts the affections of the soul which are supposed to be upon God and witholds the peace, vigor and comfort that the mortification of sin supplies. Some of my favorite statements on unmortified sin are these,

"It lays hold of the affections, rendering its object beloved and desirable, so expelling the love of the Father; so that the soul cannot say uprightly and truly to God, "thou art my portion," having something else that it loves."

"(unmortified sin) is a cloud, a thick cloud, that spreads itself over the face of the soul, and intercepts all the beams of God's love and favour.'

"The unmortified heart is like the sluggards field - so overgrown with weeds that you can scarce see the good corn."

March 12, 2007

Zell Miller says Abortion the Cause of Many of America’s Problems

The abortion of over 45 million American citizens over the last 30 years has had many economic and political impacts that the proponents of abortion never thought about. One of these unintended consequenses is the wiping out of an entire generation of Democratic voters who are not here to vote Democratic in the upcoming election, because they were aborted.

The former Georgia Senator, Zell Miller addressing the fund raising dinner of the crisis pregnancy center, "Save A Live" said that abortion is the cause of many of Americas problems. He said,

“How could this great land of plenty produce too few people in the last 30 years? Here is the brutal truth that no one dares to mention: We’re too few because too many of our babies have been killed,”

“Over 45 million since Roe v. Wade in 1973. If those 45 million children had lived, today they would be defending our country, they would be filling our jobs, they would be paying into Social Security,” the former Georgia governor said. “Still, we watch as 3,700 babies are killed every single day in America. It is unbelievable that a nation under God would allow this.”

For Video of his speech:

March 08, 2007

Bringing Abominations Into Your House, or...

Households are prime targets for defiling abominations brought in via television, DVD's, web sites, songs... Moses speaks to this issue to the families of Israel during the last month of his life at age 120.

"Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing."
Deut 7:26

Instead, we have a brilliant and refreshing alternitive to bring in, "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8

Marriage Weekend Coming Up

Next weekend (Mar 16-17) the married couples in our church are gathering for a weekend of centering our marriages on the Lord.

Philip Goodwin, an English Puritan writing in 1655 spoke of the glories of biblical home life and the corrosive effects of the world,

“It was comfortable when Christ turned water into wine, but tis lamentable when the World turns wine into water.”

What a struggle it is when a marriage loses its lustre. Why would it do that? Answer: The world the flesh and the devil. Worldly thinking, worldly meditations, worldly actions and worldly psychology will always turn the wine of marital joy into a plain and lifeless thing.

We will be reading and discussing scripture together to sweeten the wedding wine He has given.

March 07, 2007

Killing Sin God's Way - by the Holy Spirit

The men of our church are working their way through John Owen's, Overcoming Temptation - The Mortification of Sin. This week we read chapter 3 which argues that the work of mortification happens by a supernatural work of God through the Holy Spirit, which takes away all our pride and helps us see our technique in proper perspective. Owen says,

"The Holy Spirit is the Great Sovereign Cause of the Mortification of Indwelling Sin."

Romans 8:13 is the foundation of the argument which says, "if by the Spirit’... which means,

"He (the Holy Spirit) is the only sufficient for this work; all ways and means without him are as a thing of naught; and he is the great efficient of it – he works in us as he pleases’... In vain do men seek other remedies; they shall not be healed by them...”

He speaks of the inadequacy of Roman Catholic techniques (Popish religion), “rough garments, vows, orders, fastings, penances, preachings, sermons, books of devotion… they all look this way’... That the ways and means to be used for the mortification of sin invented by them are still insisted on and prescribed”

‘Because many of the ways and means they use and insist upon for this end were never appointed of God for that purpose… Who has required these things at your hand? Isa 1:12 and, ‘in vain do you worship me, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men” P58-59

Owen says that if we use human means and ignore the work of the Holy Spirit, we will "always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth 2 tim 3:7 so they are always mortifying but never come to any sound mortification.”

He reminds us of the words of Exekiel and the Lord Jesus Christ who said,

“I will give my Spirit and take away the stony heart Ezek 11:9, 36:26, and "without Christ we can do nothing’ John 5:31

March 01, 2007

Al Sharpton: It's Much Worse Than You Think

Al Sharpton was "shocked" to learn he is related to the late Senator Strom Thurmond.
See this from Aol News

He shouldn't be. The Bible (and the Human Genome project) make it clear that we all descended from one couple - and that makes us all related which is really bad news if you are racially over sensitive. See Ken Ham's book, "One Blood"

If you "couple" this with the fact that any two individuals on the planet, regardless of color, are 99.9% the same genetically you have to admit - we are, as the singer said, "Family."
See page 11 on this link: Human Genome Project

This makes Al Sharpton the descendant of some folks that might make him madder than he is now.

That we are all related by blood gives me a reason for rejoicing, instead of loathing. For we are one human family, with one common blood, with one genetically transmitted moral bloodline, that is healed only by the shedding of the blood of one savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God that we are related because Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sons of Adam.

Why Family Size Matters - Numbers 1-4

Recently, our family read the first four chapters of Numbers. We noted that the book of Numbers begins with heads of households reciting their geneaologies and the number of fighting men twenty years old and above. This was seen by us as an amazing feat, as we could hardly imagine being so well versed.

We saw how these families were posted in various positions around the Tabernacle and performed particular services to the Lord. Each family had significant strength of numbers.

For example the sons of Reuben were 46,500, while Simeon had 59,300. Judah had the most fighting men at 74,600 while Manasseh has the least, at 32,200 .

Here were some of our observations:

1. They had an intimate understanding of the status of their families and were able to recite their genealogies in detail.

2. They had an awareness of the numerical strength of their families, because the numerical strength of their families mattered to them.

3. The strength of these families is staggering.

4. The families worked together in the service of the Lord having specific duties which indicates that there was a division of labor according to families as families specialized in particular tasks.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

First, a statement: If you want to provide more warriors and perform more service to the Lord, have lots of children.

Second, a question: is your whole family mobilized for the service of the Lord as they were here?

Third, a proposition: our modern day idea of birth control influences the numerical strength of the church.

Fourth, a question: are the families in your church organized together into a division of labor which mobilzes particular families in the performance of particular duties?

Fifth, a question: is this possibly one reason why scripture is filled with the idea of "fruitfulness" and "multiplying greatly" in the land (Genesis 1:28, Deut 6:1-9...)?

February 28, 2007

The Writing Pastor

One of my friends emphasizes the importance of pastors serving as writers during their ministries because it extends and multiplies the good they can do during the years God gives them.

Here is a quote along these lines from Philip Goodwin, an English Puritan writing in 1655,

"By writing, a minister may more communicate the minde of God, not only abroad,, but even at home. As for publick preaching to his people: It may be stopped from them, or they may be staid from it. Preachers may be removed or restrained... By writing, a ministers pains may be with his people more permanent. Sermons are as showers of rain that water for the present, when as books are as Banks of snow, that lie longer upon the earth, and whereby the corn is kept warm in Winter. Death comes and pulls away from a people their pastor in his body, and yet with them in his book he abides. As the fiery chariot carried away Elijah, but he left his Mantle behinde, which was of good use in the hand of Elisha."

This citation is from the dedication by the author, Philip Goodwin in his book entitled,

"Family Religion Revived, or a Treatise as to discover the good old way of serving God in private Houses; so to Recover the Pious Practice of those Precious Duties unto their Primitive platform."

February 27, 2007

John Owen on Sin: "Sins quietness is no quietness at all"

In "the Mortification of Sin, John Owen declares, "Sins quietness is no quietness at all, but a progressive danger."

“When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone; but as sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep when they are still, so ought our contrivances against it to be vigorous at all times and in all conditions, even where there is least suspicion… It is always in continual work; the flesh lusts against the spirit.”

2 Cor 7:1 “Let us cleanse ourselves from filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.’

“Sin is always acting, always conceiving, always seducing and tempting” p 52

“If sin be subtle, watchful, strong, and always at work in the business of killing our souls,, and we be slothful, negligent, foolish, in proceeding to the ruin thereof can we expect a comfortable event? P52

February 26, 2007

Cousinship, Unclehood, Brotherhood and Sisterhood

Deborah's cousin Sam and his wife Maria Stevens and their four - count em - four children came for the weekend. The hours together carried many amazing moments with cousins and uncles and brothers and sisters.

The Kelly Hammond family- friends pf the Stevens - joined us as our house guests over the weekend.

Sam ended up slaughtering this longhorn with a five foot horn spread.

The Wautusi Longhorn bull died a natural death... lead poisoning compliments of Lester Roy Barham - The biggest two pointer of his hunting career.

We skinned that longhorn for hide, horns and hamburger

Then, Uncle Dale Albright dropped by

Uncle Dale came with all the fine principles of unclehood in his mind.

He is a Certified Mad (Rocket) Scientist

Notice the expressions on the faces - like father, like daughter (Lexie), like son (Andrew)!

Uncle Dale's nieces and nephews were squealing with joy.

He likes jet propulsion pyrotechnics

The next day, we baptized two young people in Hope Baptist church, making us an even bigger - happier family

Jake and Jason Dohm getting ready for 48 degree baptismal water (Yes, 48 degrees - I checked it with a measuring instrument)

And... Christiana Hellwig was also baptized into the warmest family in the world - the Church, the family of God, the Body of Christ.

It was a wonderful weekend of cousinhood, unclehood, brotherhood and sisterhood.

February 22, 2007

Five Year Equipping Plan at Hope Baptist

Imagine that during the next five years, your ten year old will have memorized five complete books of the Bible; can quote scripture to explain important theological principles on the Gospel, the sovereignty of God, the authority of Scripture, the doctrine of sin...; has read five important biographies of Christian leaders, pastors and missionaries; and has understood some of the major books written on critical areas of the Christian life.

How would you do that? The same way you eat an elephant - one bite at a time. The plan we are presenting is stretched over a five year period and is founded upon weekly progress toward the goal.

Completing this roadmap is not required for membership or good standing at Hope Baptist Church, but it is something that the leaders will personally implement and will lead by example. We hope that our encouragement of these practices will help the people at Hope to accomplish more than they would have by creating their own plan.

You can see it in the following link:

"If We Neglect This, We Shall Undo All" - Richard Baxter

Here is Richard Baxter on the seriousness of ministry to families in the church:

“We must have a special eye upon families,
to see that they are well ordered,
and the duties of each relation performed.
The life of religion, and the welfare and glory
of both the Church and the State,
depend much on family government and duty.
If we suffer the neglect of this, we shall undo all.
I beseech you, therefore,
if you desire the reformation and welfare of your people,
do all you can to promote family religion.”
Richard Baxter, In The Reformed Pastor

February 20, 2007

Why Did John Owen Write the Book, The Mortification of Sin ?

He gives two reasons:

Owen gives us the two primary reasons he undertook this work:

1. “The consideration of the present state and condition of the generality of professors – the visible evidences of the frame of their hearts and spirits – manifesting a great disability of dealing with the temptations, from the peace they have in the world and the divisions that they have among themselves…”

2. “This was seconded by an observation of some men’s dangerous mistakes, who of late days have taken upon them to give directions for the mortification of sin, who, being unacquainted with the mystery of the gospel and the efficacy of the death of Christ, have anew imposed the yoke of a self-wrought-out mortification on the necks of their disciples, which neither they nor their forefathers were ever able to bear [cf. Acts 15:10]... What is here proposed in weakness, I humbly hope will answer the spirit and letter of the gospel, with the experiences of them who know what it is to walk with God, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace.”

February 19, 2007

Bill Henderson Stormed the Beach 62 Years Ago

Today we were with Bill Henderson who came ashore on Iwo Jima on on D Day - Feb 19, 1945. We had a very nice time reminiscing about the people we have met, our trip there two years ago, and the movie Vision Forum made, "The League of Grateful Sons". You can get the movie here:

I read him sections from my upcoming book on Iwo Jima and he read me his. Here we are reading to one another and looking over the battle records.

We were praising God for our friendship and all the amazing things that have happened as a result.

He was kind enough to speak about his experience on Iwo Jima into the microphone. His audio comments are here:

Iwo Jima D Day Today Feb 19

Today is the anniversary of D Day on Iwo Jima.

It stands tall among the greatest battles in human history. Neither Napoleon at Waterloo or George Washington at Yorktown saw anything like this. There is no comparison to the Greeks battling at Marathon, or Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan Hill in the Spanish American War.

Warfare will never see another Iwo Jima.

Here are some of the distinctives of this most unusual battle.

Staggering fanaticism of the enemy.
The protective fanaticism of the Japanese can be documented in a number of ways. First we need to understand that no foreign army had set foot on Japanese soil for 5,000 years.

Impregnable fortifications.
The entire battle was fought on the enemies terms. We had no advantages at any point in the battle from landing to leaving. There was simply NOWHERE TO HIDE.

Unmatched battlefield challenges.
Never was there a battle with one side fighting on the surface of the ground and the other below ground. Imagine two armies, one side maneuvering above and the other below. There were 60,000-80,000 US troops on the surface, and 23000 Japanese underground crisscrossing battle lines through a complex matrix of tunnels and cave openings.

The ominous consequences were felt by all.
The Japanese soldiers knew that they were under a death sentence and were instructed to kill 10 Americans before they were killed - which was certain.

The violence was unrivaled among WWII battles.
Time Correspondent, Robert Sherrod reported that the dead at Iwo Jima, both Japanese and American, had one thing in common; “They all died with the greatest possible violence. Nowhere in the Pacific War had I seen such badly mangled bodies. Many were cut squarely in half."

High concentration of casualties
On D Day, there was a casualty every 45 seconds, with almost nine thousand Marines on the beach in 45 minutes. The outfit that raised the flag (E Company) ceased to exist because of heavy casualties.

Images of the battle are known by hundreds of millions.
Perhaps no other individual battle has been known by the general populace through the famous raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi.

Patrick Clancey writes,

“It is difficult to imagine any battlefield more closely resembling the Biblical vision of Hell than the 8 square miles of volcanic ash, pummice and sand that even tanks, let alone Marines, could not easily move across -- reeking of sulphur and brimstone, swept by bombs, bullets and shellfire, and soaked in the blood of more than 26,000 dead. Truly the Prince of Darkness must have felt right at home.”

We attempted to bomb the island into oblivion for 72 days from Dec 8 to D Day The largest pre invasion bombardment in the history of the Pacific waron Feb19.

Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith the commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific said, “it was the most heavily fortified island in the world.”

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who served there who expereinced what Alfred, Lord Tennyson captured so well,

Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Bravely they rode and well,
Into the Jaws of Death,

Into the Mouth of Hell.

February 14, 2007

Fighting Sin at Hope Baptist

John Owen

This year the men of our church are reading John Owen’s “The Mortification of Sin”. We are reading one chapter per week – which is typically about four pages. We just finished the introduction.

Owen says, “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” P50

The editors, Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic have insightful comments at the beginning of the book. Kapic writes,

“Most Christians seem unaware of or apathetic about the sin that remains in them, but whether they recognize it or not, thee is a “living coal continually in their houses,’ which if not properly attended to, will catch their home on fire.” P27

Justin Taylor acknowledges that “…studying Owen requires hard work” but that it is worthwhile. He says, “Our prayer is that this book will be used of God to help us watch and pray against temptation (Matt 26:41).

John Piper in the “Foreward” writes, “If you are fighting sin, you are alive. Take heart. But if sin holds sway unopposed, you are dead no matter how lively this sin makes you feel. Take heart, embattled saint.” P13

February 13, 2007

Flat Daddies

A Flat Daddy in the Back Seat

The hardships of fathers and mothers separated from their children through military service is illustrated by the innovation of “Flat Daddies” (and mommies). The thought goes like this, “I may not be here physically, but I’m with you in spirit.” Now, absent fathers in the military can “be there” on life size poster board. Flat Dads and Flat Moms are life-size printed posters of parents who are actively serving overseas in the military. These posters are made available free to the affected families through the generous support of sponsors. is dedicated to helping make this possible.

This interesting service, reminds us of the difficulties and hardships that are created by absent fathers and mothers. I am sure that prayer for these families would be a blessing.

Often, daddies who are not away at war, are absent from their families through their hobbies, sports, work schedules and their computers which take them away even when their bodies are "home." These also could be called "flat daddies."

February 07, 2007

Alan Wolfe says, "American Culture has Triumphed' - Over the Church

Researcher Alan Wolfe says that American culture has triumphed over Christianity. Even though he proclaims himself to be an agnostic, he works as a researcher on the beliefs and practices of the evangelical Christian community. As the Director of the Boisi Center at Boston University, he traveled around the US to interview people in evangelical churches. His findings can be found in his book, "The Transformation of American Religion."

He concludes,

“In every aspect of the religious life, American faith has met American culture–and American culture has triumphed. Whether or not the faithful ever were a people apart, they are so no longer; . . . Talk of hell, damnation, and even sin has been replaced by a nonjudgmental language of understanding and empathy. . . . far from living in a world elsewhere, the faithful in the United States are remarkably like everyone else.”

(From, Alan Wolfe, The Transformation of American Religion (New York: The Free Press, 2003), 3

What does this mean for church leaders? At minimum, we need to acknowledge that people in our churches are morphing into the world, and that we have a responsibility to help them resist the pull in it's various forms, 'pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh", (Jude 23). Second, we ought to consider any ways that we have nurtured worldliness through our preaching, our philosophy ministry, our programming and even our personal lifestyles. Instead, these things should help those under our care to "no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk." (Eph 4;17) Third, we need to recognize that this is largely a fatherhood problem, for the home is a fountain of life for the church. This is why church leaders ought to give high priority for building fathers who would speak of the "commands, statutes and judgements" of the Lord when they "sit" in their houses, when "walk" by the way, when they "lie down" and "rise up." I sincerely believe that when church leaders do this, fathers will rise to the occasion, and American culture will not triumph over our churches.

February 03, 2007

In Moral Behavior: Christians are Statistically Indistinguishable from the world

A new Barna Report concludes,

“In evaluating 15 moral behaviors, born again Christians are statistically indistinguishable from non-born again adults on most of the behaviors studied.”

I would like to submit that it is all about affections – we desire worldly things and then our hearts and lives and churches are statistically indistinguishable from the world. We freely celebrate celebrities, clap for them when they play football, listen to them sing, watch them dance… and we like it. We grow our affections for them, and we become like them – sometimes without even knowing it.

About one hundred years before Edwards, an English Puritan, William Fenner wrote, with insight and graphic imagery, about the role of the affections and their necessary connection to the moral sense.

"The affections are the forcible and sensible motions of the heart or the will, to a thing or from a thing, according as it is apprehended to be good or evil

. . . The affections are the feet of the soul: for as the body goes with its feet to that which it loves, so the soul goes with its affections to that which it loves. The soul hath no other way to come at that which it loves, but only by its affections. . .

The affections are the soul’s horses, that draw her, as it were, in a coach to the thing that she affects: a man is moved by the affections. By anger he moves out to revenge; by desire he moves out to obtain; by love he moves out to enjoy; by pity he moves out to relieve. The affections are the motions of the soul . . .

The affections are directly related to the apprehension of good and evil. When there is little apprehension of good and evil, the affections are weak and may hardly work on the body at all. But, when there is great apprehension of either, not only the soul is deeply affected, but the body also."

Perverse Opportunities that Technology Supplies – Making a Baby From a Corpse of a Stranger.

Here is an excerpt from William Saletan in an article called, “Night of the Living Dad” where he reports on the practice of making a baby from a corpse of a stranger. These practices and the technology that makes them possible, have implications across the whole spectrum of the discussion of manhood and womanhood, fatherhood and motherhood. They are at the crossroads of colliding worldviews that impinge on fertility and many other gender related issues.

Saletan writes,

“With court approval, Israeli parents are using their dead son's sperm to inseminate a woman he never knew. It appears to be the first explicit legal authorization to make a baby using a corpse and a stranger. Argument from the dead man's mother: "He would always talk about how he wanted to get married and have children." After he died, "His eyes he told me that it wasn't too late, and that there was still something to take from him. … Then I realized it was his sperm." The family's lawyer says more than 100 Israeli soldiers have reportedly signed "biological wills" asking to freeze their sperm if they die while serving; some U.S. troops have frozen sperm samples before going to Iraq. Lawyer's spin: "We've created a victory over nature." Skeptical view: You've created a victory over parenthood. (For Human Nature's take on making and selling embryos from strangers, click here. For cloning animals from carcasses, click here.)

More articles by William Saletan on the subject:

The Embryo FactoryThe business logic of made-to-order babies.

Here are two excerpts:

"That business, outlined a week ago by Washington Post reporter Rob Stein, is making and selling human embryos from handpicked donors. The FDA says this doesn't appear to violate any rules within its purview. Embryo manufacture? Go right ahead.
It's temping to label Ryan a madwoman, as many critics
have. But that's exactly wrong. Ryan represents the next wave of industrial rationality. She's bringing the innovations of Costco and Burger King to the business of human flesh."

"A better solution is to customize your embryo. By buying eggs, you can get "
more control of the prenatal environment and heath of the child" than you'd get with adoption. Through Ryan, you can select an egg "donor"—in practice, a seller—based on "her complete application, her medical and psychological results, genetic screening," and "copies of all the pictures she sent our program of her children, if any, and siblings." The pictures are crucial. Ryan requires five color photos before she'll offer a donor's eggs to buyers. One advantage of buying eggs, she points out, is that you can "choose a donor with similar characteristics" to yours."

February 02, 2007

By His Fatherly Hand

What do you mean by the providence of God?

The almighty and everywhere present power of God; (a) whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs (b) heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, (c) fruitful and barren years, and drink, health and sickness, (d) riches and poverty, (e) yea, and all things come, not by chance, but be his fatherly hand.

(From the Heidelberg Catechism)

My Only Comfort in Life and Death

Question 1 from the Heidelberg Catechism is full of comfort and wisdom for life.

What is thy only comfort in life and death? Answer. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

February 01, 2007

A Father's Resolutions - Cotton Mather

Here are some helpful tips for refreshing your role as father by Cotton Mather. He begins with these words:

"PARENTS, Oh! how much ought you to be continually devising for the good of your children! Often device how to make them "wise children"; how to give them a desirable education, an education that may render them desirable; how to render them lovely and polite, and serviceable in their generation. Often devise how to enrich their minds with valuable knowledge; how to instill generous, gracious, and heavenly principles into their minds; how to restrain and rescue them from the paths of the destroyer, and fortify them against their peculiar temptations. There is a world of good that you have to do for them. You are without the natural feelings of humanity if you are not in a continual agony to do for them all the good that ever you can. It was no mistake of an ancient writer to say, "Nature teaches us to love our children as ourselves."

For the rest of the article:

January 29, 2007

Married for 25 Years

Last week we were thanking the Lord for our twentyfifth wedding anniversary. It has been a comfortable marriage without dislocation or lack of enjoyment from day to day. It was made in heaven, with a little help from our pastor John Tebay who encouraged me to marry her almost twentyseven years ago. Deborah has loved me and encouraged me every single day for the last twentyfive years. To celebrate, we left children, computers and cell phone home and stole away to a hotel that brought back many memories of our first years together. The two of us were all alone, just like when we were first married as we had no children for the first three years. We found a $49.95 per night hotel in the mountains of North Carolina without a fireplace or a view or a stream or a vaulted ceiling - just like when we were first married with no money for really nice environs. All we had was our affection for one another and the presence of the Lord. It was wonderful, glorious, heavenly... and scripture was proved reliable again, "It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18)