more on invitations

As a follow-up to my earlier post, I’d like to comment on what I think are appropriate uses of the invitation.

[Read more…]

on invitations

If you’ve been in the conservative evangelical/fundamentalist world for any length of time, you’ve experienced a variety of invitations in the services you have attended. In some services, the preacher seems to connect with heaven and send a message direct from God to your sinful heart and you bow in confession and respond as the preacher calls for repentance at the end of the service. Some services in particular speak directly to the heart of the lost and are used by God to bring about numerous conversions in response. On other occasions, the preacher may not have seemed so connected with the divine, yet an invitation is given anyhow – and a response ensues, often in large numbers, but it somehow seems to lack the intense spirituality of those other occasions. It seems… routine… manufactured… indefinite… inconclusive… and rarely produces change that lasts.

What is the difference? [Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

the power of preaching

Some good thoughts on preaching by Dave over here. It reminds me of a book I am reading.

It is called The Scotch-Irish: A Social History, by James G. Leyburn. I picked up during a recent vacation in Tennessee at one of the state’s excellent historical sites. (To my chagrin, I see I could have gotten it on Amazon for $6 less.)

I am a sucker for historical sites and for historical books that you find there. My kids make fun of me… (this time, one of my sons said, “Oh boy, get ready for more Civil War illustrations!”)

This particular book traces the American immigrants who became known in America as the Scotch-Irish from their time in Scotland to their first emigration to Ireland (Ulster) and from there to America. I am just finishing the description of life in Scotland prior to the great exodus.

The story is fascinating (OK, so I’m a nerd). Leyburn was a prominent sociology professor at Washington & Lee University. Their library is named after him. I don’t know if he professed to be a Christian or not, but the book seems to be written from a secular perspective. That’s what makes it’s comments on preaching and the Scottish Reformation so interesting.

[Read more…]

some sympathy for the sheep

… from an under-shepherd.

The last two weeks have been overtime weeks for me. Our men and I decided to renovate our fellowship room – to improve insulation and keep our heating costs somewhat in control next winter.

Of necessity, I became the designated painter for the project. [Note: this is not due to skill but due to availability.] Two days of painting last week, and two days of painting this week added hours to my responsibilities.

This is not a complaint, but an observation. In the midst of all this, I managed to listen to a Minnick message from his Whetstone Conference last summer on the value of personal devotional time for ministers. Yes! It is valuable. But…

[Read more…]

ye must be born again

I am not going to link to outside commentaries on this one, though references abound, particularly in some quarters. My subject is the negative rap placed on ‘revivalism’ and ‘decisionism’ by some. And of course, I’d like to take a contrarian position.

First, let me acknowledge that I oppose the “I prayed a prayer” approach to assurance. A great deal of damage has been done by giving people the misconception that if they say the right words to God, they will magically be born again.

Salvation isn’t a matter of getting the words right in your prayer!

Salvation isn’t a matter of getting the words right in your prayer! It isn’t a matter of crying the appropriate number of tears, walking an aisle, being baptized, or any other such matter of external activity.

Salvation is a matter of living faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Now, is salvation a one-time decision, or not? What does it mean to be born again? And is it right for Christian ministers to call for a decision for Christ?

[Read more…]