Sunday, August 30, 2009

church membership?

There has to be some sort of mutual "membership-ish" understanding in the background of 1 Corinthians or else Paul couldn't tell them to "expel the immoral brother" [5.13].

So, what should church membership look like today? Did the Corinthians make each other sign a church covenant? How did they have a mutual and clear understanding of local church unity? It was there somehow.

Here are a few different church membership vows or church covenants that I've been reading over. Some are really incredible. I looked at Joel Osteen's church. Couldn't find one?
  • The Village Church, Matt Chandler... here.
  • Bethlehem Baptist, Dr John Piper... here.
  • Mars Hill Bible Church, Rob Bell... here.
  • Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll... here.
The straightforward membership summary of Mars Hill Bible Church is really beautiful:

BACKWARD, embracing the roots of our faith.
FORWARD, because the life of faith is a journey.
INWARD, because we want to be whole people.
WITHWARD, because we were made to live in community.
OUTWARD, because Jesus calls us to serve the world.
UPWARD, celebrating God's redemption of all things.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


In Mr T's class, we start the weekend early. Fridays are not very academically oriented in my classroom. We usually take a quiz, grade it, catch up on or review the notes from that week, do a devotion, and/or see what the question box might hold for us.

Occasionally, our devotion time is a sing-along. We sing hymns though. It's fantastic. Even though close to half of the kids don't know some of them, I make them learn the hymns. This is education for crying out loud!

[this guy plays pipe organ in my class for me... I wish]

We will usually sing a hymn and then discuss which line or thought was our favorite and why. Yesterday, we sang 'Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.' After we spiritually mulled over it for 8-10 minutes or so, I asked them, "We only have a little bit of time left. Would you like to do the question box or sing another song?" Their reply: "Let's sing 'Praise to the Lord, the Almighty' again!" Tons of fun.

So, because they were greatly edified, I hope you will be too:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee
Surely His goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him
Let the Amen sound from His people again
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Friday, August 28, 2009

mmmm... bacon.

he doesn't yet enjoy discussing the glorious effects of the atonement


Fun and generally unacademic facts. Enjoy.
  • The Bible is the best seller of all time. Out of the top ten, if you add best sellers 2-10 together, they will still not be as popular as the Bible.
  • Someone has calculated that the Bible is so influential that if every Bible in the world ceased to exist right now, it could all be put back together with books from the public libraries.
  • Of Christ, Voltaire said, "Curse the wretch!" Voltaire once boasted, "In 20 years Christ will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear." Shortly after his death, the house in which he printed his literature became the depot of the Geneva Bible Society.
  • For almost 1600-1800 years the Catholic Church had a list of forbidden books that should not be read by Catholilcs. It is said that the Bible was on this list for nearly 1000 years [see here, here, and here]. This is not to bash any of my Catholic brethren. It's fun facts, remember :)
  • The Bible has close to 500 verses on prayer, a little less than 500 verses on faith, but over 2000 verses on money and possessions.
  • There are nearly 5700 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. None are originals. The earliest we have comes from the beginning of the second century. Lest ye think this yields doubt, let's take a look at the second most popular ancient text - Homer's "Iliad." There are about 2500 manuscripts. The earliest is from 400 BC. However, Homer wrote the Iliad about 800 BC. Some scholars even say 900 BC. Without a doubt, "the New Testament is the best attested collection of writings from the ancient world" [Dr Matthew Harmon, here].

the perfect end to the first week of school: the lake

JESUS is so important that i ran out of room.

By Him all things were created. He is before all things were created and in Him all things hold together.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace.

In Him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overpower it.

He became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.

In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge... For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

He abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

He is the radiance of God's glory, and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things things by the word of His power.

He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him because He always lives to make intercession for them.

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.

His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems... He is clothed in robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "King of kings, and Lord of lords."

He loves us and released us from our sins by His blood and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to God and Father - to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

resources and books on the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit

Here. Be a biblical charasmatic. I dare you.


I've heard scores of answers to this. We have moral sensitivity. We have relational capacities. We have communicative abilities. We have a will and the ability to reason.

I agree with all of these. However, I think the primary thing that God's image means in Gn 1.26-28 is that humanity was created to have dominion [1.26, 1.28]. Go read it. It's clear. And dominion is not for mere citizens or peasants. Dominion is for royalty. We were made, in some sense, to be "kings." This says something about our Creator and not necessarily our innate worth.

All of this is not mere conjecture or attempted exegetical insight. It's clearly what God's image means. Here's why:

If we read the end of the book, to what are we restored? In what way are we "co-heirs" with Christ [Rom 8.17]? Revelation 19-22 says that we will be raised to reign with Him, world without end. That is our lot in Christ - the full restoration of God's image and all that that entails. This is also why our Lord, who flawlessly bore the Father's image on earth, preached that "the kingdom is here" [Mt 4.17, Mk 1.15].

God's plan to fix the marred image could not have been accomplished by any other means except by the full image-bearer [Col 1.15, 1.19], the Second Adam [Rom 5.12-21].

seven-page PDF on what the Bible says about free will


Who Should Run the Church? A Case for the Plurality of Elders.

By Dan Wallace. Here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How Different Groups Spend Their Day [a study by the New York Times]

Here. This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. A unique social commentary.

hymn of the day

"Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee" [Josiah Conder]
Tis not that I did choose Thee
For Lord that could not be
This heart would still refuse Thee
Hadst Thou not chosen me
Thou from the sin that stained me
Hast cleansed and set me free
Of old Thou hast ordained me
That I should live to Thee

Twas sovereign mercy called me
And taught my opening mind
The world had else enthralled me
To heavenly glories blind
My heart owns none above Thee
For Thy rich grace I thirst
This knowing if I love Thee
Thou must have loved me first


John Owen's book "Communion with God" discusses the nature of the Christian's fellowship with each member of the Trinity. Of course it was written in the mid-1600s. Nobody writes books like that any more.

Owen says that "the foundation of all our communion with the Holy Spirit lies in His being sent by Jesus Christ to be our Comforter or Helper." See John 16.1-7.

Jesus told his disciples, "It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you" [16.7].

Owen writes:
So the Lord Christ would have us know this great truth, that the presence of the Holy Spirit with believers as Comforter and Helper, sent by him as promised, is better and more profitable than his bodily presence can ever be.

Owen then writes about the essence of the Spirit's comforting presence.
The Comforter may always abide with us, though not always comfort us.

The Comforter often brings comfort to us when we do not receive it. The oasis is near, though we do not always see it.

The Comforter actually never leaves the believing soul with no comfort at all.

The Comforter, being sent and given, abides with the souls of believers and does not leave them. He reveals Himself in various ways and by various works.

He works effectively [1 Cor 12.11]. All that the Holy Spirit purposes to work in us, He fully accomplishes by His almighty power.

He works sovereignly [1 Cor 12.11]. The Holy Spirit distributes to everyone as He wills. He gives one gift to one person and another to another person. This He does of His own freedom of will, ruled by His own judgment and choice. So the saints are kept in constant dependence on Him and His sovereignty. If the Holy Spirit gives to us as He wills, then we should be content with that which He gives us.

Friday, August 14, 2009

hymn of the day

"Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" [Charles Wesley]
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel’s Strength and Consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear Desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart

Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring

By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

Thursday, August 13, 2009

we are super blessed with awesome friends and family. for example:

Apparently, Tim's breath is butt-nasty. Fear not, Timmer. James still loves you.

Little James, Uncles James, and Aunt Charlotte.

The Baggots trying to teach him to pull for anybody but the Gamecocks.

Great-grandma Ethel's magic touch.

hymn of the day

"Thy Mercy, My God" [John Stocker]
Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song
The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue
Thy free grace alone from the first to the last
Hath won my affections and bound my soul fast

Without Thy sweet mercy I could not live here
Sin would reduce me to utter despair
But through Thy free goodness, my spirits revive
And He that first made me still keeps me alive

Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart
Dissolved by Thy goodness I fall to the ground
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found

Great Father of mercies Thy goodness I own
And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son
All praise to the Spirit whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine
This has been recently recorded with a more modern and really pretty melody. Go here for the sheet music. Or listen to a demo here.

i'm a sermon illustration

I received an email a few days ago that told me I was a sermon illustration at Brushy Creek Baptist Church [Taylors] last week. It is just as humorous as it is encouraging and humbling.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

PSALM 9.10

And those who know Your name put their trust in You,
For You, O YHWH, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Much of the OT poetry is written in couplets, two lines that are getting across one primary point. These can also be called "parallelisms."

I love the parallel we are confronted with in Ps 9.10. It shows that trusting God and seeking God are intertwined realities. There is always an initial saving arrival at belief or trust in God in the broad theological sense, but here David is delighting in the ongoing pursuit of God as trust. The righteous kingship of YHWH in Ps 9.1-12 is grounds for David's believing and pursuing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

new tattoo

Tis another sign that I'm more "southern" than I thought. Why? The tattoo is for/about/because of little Mr James.

There's also something paternally spiritual about it all too, fatherhood, that is.

I got it done at a nice place on Haywood Road in Greenville. The girl who did it really loves the Lord. She finished North Greenville with a Youth Ministry degree in 1997. This all made for good conversation.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Holding the tension between the two is fun and tough. I heard the tension stated in the negative today. I liked the way it was put:
The Word of God knows nothing of an irresponsible man [not accountable for his own actions] or an unsovereign God [not wise and good over all things].
Holding this tension has contrition hard-wired into its appropriation. Bishop J. C. Ryle also adds discerning words:
I have long come to the conclusion that men may be more systematic in their statements of the Bible, and may be led into grave error by idolatrous veneration of a system.

I'm from South Carolina, but how "southern" am I?

Well, my wife has already breastfed our son at a Waffle House. Booyah. We love each other.

I am a "fart aerobics instructor" and my son is Martin Luther. Both of these help us pray.


new musics


Sara sounds like June Carter Cash on "Oh Hummingbird" :)


In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he is joyful, grateful, hopeful, resolute, and overwhelmed by the gospel. "It's the Apostle Paul," you might say. "Of course he is."

But he was in prison! And a deficiency of gospel joy was nowhere to be found.

In chapter 1 alone, here's what Paul has to say about the story of God's redemptive purposes reaching their climax in Jesus ["the gospel"]. I pray that I could have this demeanor and confidence toward/in what I know God has promised to do. Our Father's predestined means for the kingdom moving forward are gospel preaching and living.

[1.5] PARTICIPATION in the gospel
Paul was persistently thankful in his prayers for the Philippians' "participation in the gospel from the first day until now." They were unified by the gospel and for the gospel.

[1.12] PROGRESS of the gospel
Paul knew that even his imprisonment was "for the greater progress of the gospel." Paul then says that suffering can be a gift from God [1.29] and that is precisely how he saw his imprisonment, as a gift that furthered the gospel.

[1.17] PROCLAMATION of the gospel
In 1.15-20, this is the thing that gives him added joy, the preached good news. He even says that some are proclaiming it for the wrong reasons, but it is still being proclaimed!

[1.27] PERSEVERANCE in the gospel
The gospel will move forward. He exhorted the believers in Philippi who were feeling religious and political pressure to STRIVE "together for the faith of the gospel." He gives himself as an example in 1.30 of how gospel ministry will include endurance and likely conflict.

Don't hate on my Ps. Three of them were in the NASB. It's their fault. Go Southern Baptist sermon outlines!

And here is James helping me on some Philippians :)

how to enjoy a pastor's conference [an entry two years in the making]

This was at the Desiring God pastor's conference in February of 2007. When the plane landed in Minneapolis it was -16 degrees. That's not awesome if you're from the south. It was a pretty flight though.

Because of the piercing frigidity outside, we had to spend our time inside somehow. We went to the biggest mall in America that includes and indoor roller coaster. Party on, Garth.

We found some 4x polo shirts to try on.

And finally, I showed my piety and maturity by jumping on the bed. Videographic expertise provided by Adam Mihm.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

i've got issues

I can't read fiction. I just can't do it. I don't know what my deal is?

Perhaps I've been scarred somehow? My parents used to make my brother [who has the same problem as I do] and me go to our rooms on Sunday afternoon. They would set a timer for 30 minutes and make us read. It felt like 30 hours. Even for Book It!, reading was a means to an end, namely, PIZZA!

I even get made fun of by friends. Some of them look down their noses at me for not being able to enjoy fiction. They have decent warrant to do so.

So, my recent efforts have included "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson and "The Shack" by William Paul Young.

I can't lie and say that I'm converted: "I'm now a fiction reader!" I still have issues. It's just not very satisfying and/or relaxing to me.

What if I got free pizza for reading about Johannine participles, inaugurated eschatology, and Christo-centric hermeneutics? That would be one heck of a deal.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Proverbs 22.6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

"Dad, what is your deal?"

I love playing kissy face with him.

why is love the greatest? [1 Cor 13.13]

I'm glad you asked. There are several reasons.

FIRST of all, the context is about spiritual gifts [1 Cor 12-14]. Paul's point is that the engine of all proper employment of the gifts is love. The gifts will not be needed for all time, but love will stick around.

SECOND, the nature of faith and hope is that they are not eternal. This is closely related to the first point. When we are forever gathered with God and His people, faith and hope will not be necessary. They are gifts in the present that work with love to sustain us until then. The temporal nature of faith and hope help to point to the permanence and greatness of love.

THIRD, the idea of the person of the Holy Spirit is closely tied to Paul's understanding of love [see Rom 5.1-5, Gal 5.22, Eph 4.1-3, etc]. Edwards, Augustine, and Gordon Fee do an excellent job showing this. Thus, love's enduring nature says something about God the Spirit.

FOURTH, isn't real love supposed to be perpetual by definition? Take it, Billy:
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved