Archives for December 2007

on the state of fundamentalism

To follow up on my own ‘challenge post’  – ‘on that interesting Touchstone article’ – I’d like to offer you some thoughts in response to the modified Touchstone questions. I hope some of the fellows I challenged will weigh in with their views. For anyone else, feel free to post your opinions.

My own perspective is one of observing fundamentalism from the fringes.

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on effective church web sites

We are in the process of developing our own church web site. I mentioned this a few days ago and a link appears in the sidebar to the right for our current offering. Our initial efforts are primarily for the purpose of providing audio sermons for our church people to use themselves and to pass on to family and friends. However, I want to do more with our web presence than that. I want to make our web site a tool for reaching our community with the gospel.

Church web sites are everywhere. And… well… I don’t like most of them. I suppose they serve their purpose as their designers intended, but I find most church web sites to be little more than giant yellow-pages ads. Really, folks, we need to do better.

By God’s grace, I hope that the little we do will be a bit better than what you typically see. As I am preparing our site for a wider audience, I ran across some info that I think every on-line fundamentalist pastor should consider.

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on daily grace

A post of praise to God for his daily grace: Yesterday, along with many others, we enjoyed Christmas with family. This year we gathered at my brother’s home in Courtenay, BC, a few hours north of us on the Island. Our family made the three hour trek up the Island in the early morning, then headed back down in the evening.

Our journey home was a little longer than expected…

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on the Sunday before Christmas

This Sunday, 12.23.07, we had only one sermon. A brief summary appears below.

In His Name shall the Gentiles Trust (Mt 12.15-21) |

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| Notes

Matthew presents the Gospel record thematically, not chronologically. Many of the events of Mt 12, for example, occur before Mt 5-7 in time. In his 12th chapter, however, Matthew is forcing us to make a choice about Jesus. He does this by displaying the Master as tender and compassionate to the needs and weaknesses of men. He also displays the irrational antagonism of Jesus’ enemies to this. Then he quotes Isaiah, describing the gentle compassionate character of the Servant, applying this to Jesus. We are left with a stark decision to make. Will we Gentiles trust Him? Is he really the son of David? Or is he the son of the devil [Beelzebub]? Which?

~~~

Our second service involved our Children’s Christmas Play. You can find pictures here. [I was preaching from the middle of the stable in Bethlehem this Sunday!] Our little children were thrilled to dress up as shepherds, angels, and sheep. Our big kids seemed to like it, too.

In our third service we played the video of Duncan and Meg’s wedding. Duncan and Meg are here for Christmas with us and it seemed appropriate to find a time for our folks who couldn’t attend to see the record of the event. I was a little uncertain about using one of our service times for this, but my wife reminded me that I preached ‘for an awful long time’ at the wedding. I guess I did.

Our folks, most of whom have seen Duncan grow up, were delighted to see the video. I messed up the singing of the hymn at the beginning of the service because my mind was 21 years away, thinking about a little lad on the seat of yellow Ryder truck carrying us from SC to BC and our place of ministry. They had to stop me and we started over.

We had visitors again this Sunday, a crowd of 59. The year has been very good for us and our church. We will see what the Lord has for us in the New Year.

May all of God’s richest blessings abound to you and your families this Christmas.

Regards
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

on that interesting Touchstone article

This article has already been cited elsewhere [see Greg Linscott and PaleoBen]. I have gotten through about half the article [something called family and Christmas keeps getting in the way of reading]. The article is interesting enough in itself. I may blog a bit on some of its highlights later, but I think it would be interesting if we reframed the questions Touchstone asked from an evangelical to a fundamentalist focus.

How would fundamentalists answer these questions?

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on the ongoing effects of ministry

I’d like to inaugurate blogging on the new site with a post about the effect of ministry. Sometimes men will labour in obscure places, doing things that seem to amount to little, yet God Himself is working through them, little though they realize it.

My wife received an e-mail from a friend who, along with her husband, laboured for many years here on the Island. My brother now pastors the church they started.

Our friend told us that they received a call last week from a man, now in his eighties, thanking them for coming to the Island and leading him to the Lord. That has to be at least 15 years ago. Our friend rejoiced in being used of the Lord to bring just one man to the Lord through years of difficult frustrating ministry.

Well, that’s not all.

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on Piper’s advocacy of sinning less often

A recent Piper article is eating away at my mind. I really am appalled by it, but have hesitated to post. It is quite easy to be too critical, especially when it comes to eminently critique-able people like Piper.

The article, Gutsy Guilt, was published in the October issue of Christianity Today. In order to understand my criticism, you may have to read the article, but I will do my best to represent the article and what bothers me about it.

In his introduction, Piper expresses a concern that young Christians can lose their ‘radical’ vision for ministry because of failing to deal with the guilt of sexual failure. [BTW, Piper regularly uses words like ‘radical’ and ‘passion’, words that really have no place in a Christian context, but that is another pet peeve and another post.]

By failure, Piper doesn’t mean merely the use of pornography. No, he says, “The great tragedy is not masturbation or fornication or pornography.” I am assuming that he doesn’t mean the adultery kind of fornication, but his article doesn’t make that distinction clear. [Read more…]

on a Sunday with the ‘outlaws’

This Sunday we had the privilege of having my son’s father-in-law, Brad Calhoun with us for our services. I searched the vast reaches of the internet to find a term to describe the relationship between parents of two people married to one another. Alas, I found none, hence my own ‘smart-alecky’ term, ‘outlaws’. We are delighted to expand the circle of our family to include these outlaws.

Brad and his wife Sarah have been Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries in Quebec for many years. They led their church in Matane, Quebec to the stage where the church has its own building and was able to call its own Quebecois pastor. We thank God for this, but for the Calhoun’s, it means leaving behind dear friends and disciples and moving to a new place of ministry. For them that means a move to the pastorate of a church in the mountains of western North Carolina, the place where Brad grew up. We ask the Lord to prosper them in this new ministry.

Rather than attempt to give you summaries, I will link you to the audio for each message. First, the morning message,

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, a message in keeping with our Christ and the Nations series and giving some of the background information concerning the work in Quebec.

Next, Brad gave us his slide presentation, narrating the history of the work in Matane. Our church has been supporting the Calhoun’s in this work for a number of years, so we were very pleased to hear this report on

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.

Last, we had our afternoon message on

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, a message about following the light that we have and questioning the impulses of darkness around us and in us.

All in all, a good day. We had 67 in the service this week with a couple of interesting visitors (besides our own family visitors). It was one of those weeks where almost everyone connected with our church all showed up on the same day. Even with that there were a couple of people away. Nevertheless, we were blessed to see all those who did come. We also saw some pretty significant spiritual steps taken in a couple of lives, so we are grateful for that.

Regards
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

on a significant biblical revival

The Jewish nation cycled back and forth from apostasy and revival several times in its long history. One of the most significant revivals is that under King Hezekiah.

A couple of years ago, I led our church through a chronological study of the Bible. In the study, I was so busy preparing study guides and sermons that I think I missed some of the really significant insights my study was supposed to uncover! This year, we are reading the Bible through on the same chronological schedule. For me, it is the first time reading the schedule devotionally rather than academically.

I was singularly impressed this time with Hezekiah. It is noteworthy that the Lord led the writers of Scripture to record Hezekiah’s revival in three different books of the Bible, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah. The repetition heightens the significance. The Lord wants us to learn something here.

The ‘Hezekiahan’ revival involved a deep purging of idolatry led by the king, then faced a traumatic challenge to faith by the Assyrian invasion of Judah by Sennacherib. Hezekiah’s prayer, spreading the blasphemous letter of Sennacherib before the Lord, is an example to us of what real revival faith and Spirit-filled praying is all about.

In particular, the book of Isaiah plays a prominent role in the revival. If you consider the chapters prior to the record of Hezekiah’s stand against Sennacherib (36-39), you will find Isaiah’s oracles against the nations and against the people of God. I presume most of this preaching occurred in Ahaz’ reign. Ahaz is Hezekiah’s father and was a wicked apostate king. It is remarkable that Hezekiah became the man that he was, given the father that he had. Following the record of Hezekiah’s life, Isaiah’s message becomes much more uplifting and hopeful. There are still some oracles of denunciation, but there are also all the Servant songs and other passages of hope and revival. They look well beyond Hezekiah’s day to the final, glorious, permanent revival that is to come when the King reigns. [I think the contrast between Isaiah’s ministry under Ahaz and under Hezekiah explain the differences between the first and second parts of the book far better than the unbelieving theories of intellectuals who propose “Isaiah” and “Deutero-Isaiah”.]

The Bible doesn’t tell us how Hezekiah was influenced to be faithful to the Lord. I suspect that Hezekiah was converted to faith by the ministry of Isaiah. Isaiah certainly figures prominently in the life of Hezekiah as a trusted spiritual advisor.

The record of this revival gives encouragement to me. Faithful preaching of a negative word like Isa 1-35 can bear fruit that deserves the postive word like Isa 40-66.

Isaiah 54:1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

on a light to the nations and prayer

The busy season is upon us! I suppose this is not a good time to be trying to set up my new web venture, but we want to be ready to use it not only as a resource for our sermons but as an evangelistic tool by the time January rolls around. Much is yet to be done, but we are stepping forward bit by bit.

I am going to adapt our sermon summaries in this space a bit since I am now providing both audio and outline on the web site. I will do less summarizing and try to sum up the appeal the main idea of the message had to me as I prepared and delivered it.

Here are the latest instalments:

Galilee of the Gentiles (Mt 4.12-17)

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Notes

Have you ever considered the difference between Judea and Galilee? Galilee is part of the old northern kingdom of Israel, and as far back as the judges was only tenuously held by the Israelites. Galilee always had a Gentile influence. During the time of Christ, Galilee held a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles. Why did Jesus spend the bulk of his ministry there?

Isaiah spoke of a light that would come to lighten the Gentiles. Think about what it meant for the Gentiles of Galilee who saw the light of Christ right in their presence? And think now of the light of Christ in our Gentile world? And think about the many many nations immigrating to our shores – Christ is a brilliant light for them as well.

All of this light is wrapped up in the name ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’. What grace God brought down to man!

Ask (Lk 11.5-10)

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Notes

Do you ever get discouraged in prayer? Do you faint along the way? Do you know that the Lord doesn’t want you to feel that way?

The parable of the friend at midnight is a picturesque promise (and kind of a backhanded one at that) that the Lord answers prayer. You can count on it. And you can always count on the Lord’s answer being good, better than you could ask or think.

But it does seem that the answers start with the asking. The Lord wants you to ask. Do you feel your prayers lack? Then ask. Do you feel the Lord is far away? Then ask. Just ask and keep on asking.

A good deal of our spiritual life is simply missed because we do not pray.

~~~

BTW, for our afternoon service, the message on prayer, we had a couple from Singapore show up for a visit. We are kind of excited about that, after I just finished preaching about the Lord being a light to the Gentiles, and the nations moving to Canada. May the Lord shed his light into the hearts of many nations from right here in Victoria!

Regards
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3