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: http://www.visionforum.com/booksandmedia/productdetail.aspx?categoryid=166&productid=67882

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. FlatDaddies.com 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: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/mather/resolvd.htm