hear, hear!

Dave is absolutely right on this one. I commend it to you.

From my perspective, it is less selfish to plant churches in America than it is too pride ourselves about a well-lit missionary board that is conveniently dark in the area right around our church.

In addition to his call for church planters, we need young families to go with them and give themselves to the task of fulfilling Christ’s commands.


if the shoe fits…

Dave Doran has a post on the subject of missionary pastors. Here is his description:

One major concern I have is regarding the too common practice of missionaries serving as the long-term pastor of a mission church. I’m not speaking about the short-term practice of planting a church and serving it until it can call a pastor. I’m concerned about the practical reality that some men are essentially serving as a pastor on the mission field while remaining supported by churches back in their sending country. I’ve seen cases where the same man has served as the pastor of a mission church for decades—so long, in fact, that the church itself would no longer really consider itself a mission church. The congregation looks and acts mainly like an independent congregation, but its pastor is actually supported by other churches, not them.

In principle, I think I agree with Dave on this concern. His point resonates with me, because in many ways, “I resemble that remark.” I am a missionary pastor. I am (in part) supported as a missionary. I have served at our mission church now for literally decades (25 years this last August).

I say that I agree with Dave’s concerns ‘in principle’, but I would like to point out some factors that in my mind must be taken into consideration on this question. This isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ question.

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do you do child dedication services?

I don’t.

I am wondering about the rationale for these types of services, however. I wonder if my readers may have thoughts to contribute on the subject.

I realize that such services are a bit of a staple in evangelical/fundamental church circles. There are several reasons why I am against them.

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Northwest Regional FBF Conference

We held our annual conference last week at Lincoln Park Baptist Church in Wenatchee, WA.

Our keynote speaker was Dr. Fred Moritz, my good friend and former mission director. He is now ‘emeritus’ with the mission and on the faculty of Maranatha Baptist Seminary.

We had a great week … all in just three days! Lots of preaching and good fellowship. We are hosting the sermons at our church site, so I thought I would make the link available for anyone who might be interested.


The Exchange

I’d like to commend to you the ministry of my friend, Jeff Musgrave. His heart’s interest is seeing lost souls come to Christ and  The Exchange is the vehicle he wrote as a tool for communicating the gospel.

Jeff and his wife Anna trained our people in The Exchange soul-winning presentation this week. The training involves two parts – a four session Bible study and a short gospel presentation distilled from the longer study.

The highlights of the week for me included a reminder that in conversing with lost people we need to direct the conversation to heart issues rather than engage head issues (deal with need rather than prove one’s point) and hearing two testimonies from two of our people who were able to share the gospel during the week.

One obstacle Christians face in soul-winning is lack of confidence about what they will say when they witness for Christ. The Exchange provides an excellent tool for presenting the truths of the gospel to a lost person. I heartily recommend it.

Bob Jones University Press is now publishing the soul-winning Bible study and leader’s guide, as well as a twelve week discipleship program to follow up on the evangelistic Bible study.

For an idea of what The Exchange is like, here is our friend Jeff Musgrave, presenting the content of The Exchange.


be an extension of the coach

When it comes to sports, I tend to follow sports associated with the city of my birth, Edmonton, Alberta. My hockey team, the Oilers, let their captain go over the summer so a new captain is in the offing. An article speculating on the new captain contained this bit:

Renney [coach of the Oilers] said the captain has to be an extension of the coach.

"In terms of work habits, his own personal preparation from fitness, nutrition, his emotional state. That’s critical. He has to help deliver what’s required from a game plan and have a deep commitment to it."

That prompted some thoughts on pastoral leadership. Peter says:

NAU  1 Peter 5:2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

Could we say that as examples of the flock we need to be “an extension of the Lord” displaying work habits that are committed to the kind of spiritual fitness the Lord expects of his people? Can we say the pastor must deliver what’s required from the game plan and have a deep commitment to it? In other words, if we expect the people of God to buy into what we are preaching, surely we must be at least as deeply committed as we are calling them to be, eh?

It may be that we are too much interested in our own agenda, our own game plan, than the Lord’s plan. Yield yourselves (voluntarily) to the Lord as the shepherd of His sheep – they are His, not yours, after all.


decisions, decisions

What if you don’t recall the hour of your “decision for Christ”? Or, as this old article at Christianity Today asks, “How can I know I’m a Christian if I can’t remember when I first responded to the gospel?”

The question reveals, I think a faulty view of salvation and assurance of salvation. In light of our recent discussion of revivalism here, I thought the article asked an interesting question.

The whole idea of a “decision for Christ” is largely a revivalistic phenomenon. As the article says:

Much of American Protestantism has been influenced by revivalism, which places great emphasis on "making a decision for Christ" in a public, definitive way. These "moments of decision" often become the crucial evidence that one is saved. Other Protestant traditions, less influenced by revivalism (including some Reformed and Lutheran churches), may be content to leave the conversion experience unclearly identified, putting the focus on identification with the church. Both of these traditions have benefits, as well as potential problems.

In a recent comment, our e-friend Tracy makes a good point, I believe:

If I’m preaching to lost folks, I preach Christ crucified and call for them to close with Christ immediately and publicly. Before I close, I tell them if they have any questions, either they can come to the front at the invitation time or they can see me after the service. I always stress that Christ desires their immediate salvation. So I declare the gospel, spell out its terms, and call them to close with it.

I agree with that. We need to call folks to decisions.

But what about some who can’t remember the specifics of their decision? (Perhaps it was a long time ago, perhaps it was when they were very young, perhaps they remember bits, or perhaps they remember nothing at all.)

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national review on marriage

Very good article here:

What a healthy marriage culture does is encourage adults to arrange their lives so that as many children as possible are raised and nurtured by their biological parents in a common household.


We cannot say with any confidence that legal recognition of same-sex marriage would cause infidelity or illegitimacy to increase; we can say that it would make the countervailing norms, and the public policy of marriage itself, incoherent. The symbolic message of inclusion for same-sex couples — in an institution that makes no sense for them — would be coupled with another message: that marriage is about the desires of adults rather than the interests of children.

The article is of course written from an entirely non-Biblical perspective, but I think it has some arguments from a philosophical and practical standpoint that Bible believers can use.


new methods in a spiritual wilderness

A few weeks ago I posted an article highlighting something I found in the book The Scotch-Irish: A Social History by James G. Leyburn. Today I want to post an extended quotation from the book and make a few observations.

I am in the section of the book that deals with Scotch-Irish immigration to America. The chapter is “The Presbyterian Church”. The first point made is about the lack of churches among many (most) of these immigrants. Two reasons are cited: First, the lack of trained ministers. The Presbyterians insisted on a classical education for their clergy, something in short supply on the frontier. Trained ministers from the Old Country were rarely found among the immigrants.

But an even greater problem afflicted the re-establishment of the church among these immigrants, all of them Presbyterian in their native country. That problem was a general spiritual malaise that affected all the major denominations at the time, according to Leyburn. My lengthy quotation follows (including the quote in our little ‘identify’ the person and time game a few days ago). The quotation comes from pp. 277-279.

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In an interview with Peter Hitchens (brother of Christopher), Hugh Hewitt brings up the subject of marriage. Peter Hitchens’ comment is very interesting.

HH: As we speak, marriage is up, it’s a knockout punch that is being aimed at marriage in California.

PH: Yes.

HH: The consequences of that, do you have any opinion?

PH: Well, I think it’s immensely serious, and it’s also rative of a fight, because those who fight it on the grounds on which the left have chosen to make it a battle, can very easily be portrayed as bigots and intolerant and cruel, because it’s always an issue of allegedly giving something to somebody, and why are you against giving something to somebody? Are you a cruel person? Are you a nasty person? Are you a vindictive person? And it’s turned into that development. And this is partly, of course, because the battle over divorce, which both in your country and in mine, was made so ridiculously easy in the 1960s. The battle over divorce has already been conceded, and therefore marriage among heterosexuals is so weakened, that this assault on it is not seen for what it is, namely a further blow at what I regard is the constitution of private life, that the marriage contract is the basis on which private life can be lived. And the moment the state becomes more important, and the moment big corporations become more powerful than the marriage bond, then private life is over, and we’re all slaves. And this is the difficulty. You need to find, and the conservative movement on both sides, I think, need to find a language in which to fight this war without it being easy for the other side to portray them as bigots.

(Quote comes about 2/3 of the way through the interview)

Most of my readers are probably aware that this is a present battle for the essential building blocks of human society.

Recently, I conducted the ceremony for my sister and her husband. Two comments highlight how much on the front lines of the battle real Christian marriage is.

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