2005

A break is just what I needed!

Thankfully exams are over and its starting to settle in that I only have one more semester of seminary until I'm done with school. It seemed like I would never get to this point but now I have to stop and ask myself if I'm really ready. I think the answer is yes. I've spent the majority of the past week putting together my resume and getting it ready to send out to churches. I've also spent some time reaching out to different state conventions and local associations for contacts that will help me find a church that needs a pastor and is a good fit. I'm looking first in Virginia and Texas since I've enjoyed living in both those states, but I'm open to the possibility of going other places as well.

I got back to Virginia last Tuesday and I'll be here for the rest of December. I'm going back to Kentucky the first week of January to get back with my church there as far as leading worship and a retreat we'll be on in the first weekend of January. But I'm enjoying the break here and trying to use it to get some reading and study done for my personal growth instead of for class - and believe me, there's a huge difference. I'll try and write a few more entries in a next week or so to update everyone on different things. Thanks to everybody who keeps checking back for updates - there are some more on the way!
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What a relief!

After turning in 3 papers and a test this week, the good news is that I have hardly any work left for this semester. One last Hebrew test and two finals. I know I've been terrible about keeping up with my blog and updating my website this semester, but I'm going to put some effort into it soon.

This semester nearly killed me with al the work I had. 9 hours of class in seminary is full-time, 12 is a full load. I did 15 plus 10 hours a week of my ministry project, plus helping out at church. The good news is that I only need three more classes to graduate now! Next semester should be much more manageable. I'm just glad this one is almost over.
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Mid-terms are over!

Well its pretty obvious that its been a while since I posted. Not quite a month but close. Sorry about that, I'll try and do better. Happy

We had mid-terms last week and its great to have those over with. Its hard to believe that the semester is halfway over. I only have a couple of weeks left before my SME project is done. That takes up about 10 hours a week right now, so that will free up my schedule quite a bit. Also, this Saturday, we have 8 hours of training for my new job at the emergency shelter. As soon as we complete the training, the shelter can open. So next week I should start actually working shifts.

Thats the latest news. The Hokies are having a great season so far and we'll hope that continues and hopefully VT will get a shot at the National Title this year. VT played Florida State in 1999 for the National Championship, but lost the game. Hopefully this year they can go all the way! Go Hokies!
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Semester in full swing

The Fall 2005 semester is here in full force. There is plenty of work to go around and about all I can do is take it a week at a time as far as papers and assignments. Happily we have an extra reading week this semester during the last week of September. That will be a welcome break already after only 4 or 5 weeks of class. I knew it would be like this, but its ok, I guess its just the price I have to pay to graduate in May instead of waiting until December.

Now for the good news... The VT Hokies are 2-0 and ranked #4 nationally. As long as they keep their heads and play the way they should, I'm hoping for an undefeated season. We'll see. It seems like forever since last college football season, and I'm sure this one will be over before we know it! At least it gives me a break from school work. Well thats about all the updates for right now.
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Second week of class

The first week of class has come and gone and it feels good and strange at the same time to think that I've started my last year of seminary. I promising job opportunity surfaced near the end of last week so there may be some news forthcoming on that subject soon.

I got to practice some more tonight for youth worship at J-town Baptist. One of the youth plays drums and we got to play some tonight. He joined right in and it looks like he will be a great addition to the violin/guitar sounds we've got right now. I'm hoping that I'll be able to add a bass guitar soon and female vocal. I'll try to take my video camera up to church one Wed night and post a clip of us leading worship on my website. I won't be leading worship this week because the youth group is going to see the "Power Team" at a local high school. Don't worry I'll have my camera and bring a full report on that event! Until next time...
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First night at J-town BC

Tonight was my first Wed night leading worship for the youth at Jeffersontown Baptist Church. Things seems to go really well. It seems like the youth group is a really great group of students. They seemed like they were excited about our worship time. I played my guitar and the youth minister's wife Erica played violin. I thought the violin/guitar together sounded great and there are several youth that are musically talented so I'm hoping we can add drums and some vocals and maybe a bass guitar. Its nice to be excited about going to church again.
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Long awaited update...

Well classes are about to start again. Its amazing how fast the summer has flown by. Two weeks ago I was in Northern VA working at a sports camp for Infinity Sports. There are a couple pictures on the front page of the website. I ended up doing video because we didn't have enough kids to do volleyball. Maybe I'll post one of the videos I made in case anybody wants to see it.

Last week I got to go back to Suffolk and see my family. That was good since i hadn't been back there since the beginning of the summer. It was good to see them all and the food was good but I ate too much. Its hard to believe I'm about to start my final year of school. Like I've said a few times, I'm ready to be done with school. And it's exciting to think that hopefully I'll be talking to some churches in the next 6-8 months for initial contacts and hopefully in less than a year I'll find a church to pastor.

I'm going to try to be better about updating since school's about to start again and I'll be in more of a normal schedule than i have been the last two weeks.
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Summer continues

Once again its been far too long since my last post. But I have added a couple extras to the site recently. The front page now has a section for music at the bottom of the sidebar. Clicking on the links in that takes you to the iTunes Music Store if you have iTunes installed on your computer and lets you preview the song for 30 seconds and then you can buy it for $1 if you want to.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not also mention the new Mr. T video. Its a clip form the pilot episode of the A-Team TV show from 1983. I may be the only one that thinks its this funny but I roll in the floor laughing every time I watch it. Especially when he talks about beating on peoples' heads and the dumb big fat stupid stinking bandit. Maybe I'll come across some more clips soon.

Well I just finished studying and taking a test for one of my classes so there is a lot of stress done with. Next week I'm playing in a tennis tournament here in Louisville. Its on indoor courts, so I'm hoping I can serve well and the courts will be pretty fast and I think that'll be an advantage for me.

It amazing how fast the summer is flying by. Its less than a month now until classes start back for us. I've still got some work I need to do for 2 of my summer classes. 2 of them I've gotten everything done with already.

I'm still going to try soon to write some more about my Thailand trip, I've gotten some questions through e-mail and I'll try and answer some of those and give some more details now that I've had some time to reflect. Thats all for now. Watch out for those alley-cat sized sewer rats.
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Back in America

Well its been far too long since I've written. I promised some updates, and I'll give several, but here is one to get started with. I got back Sunday night about 7:00 and since then I've been trying to get over a head cold and adjust back to the time difference. The combination of those two things at the same time is frustrating. Last night was my most normal schedule yet, I went to bed about 3 in the afternoon and got up about 5 this morning. I'm hoping today I'll be able to stay up to a reasonable time. We'll see.

I guess one of the first things I can say about my trip was that it was really good to see how God brought together the theme of the week and all the activities with the sermons I had prepared. We had three full worship services and two shorter ones. I was a little worried that my voice wasn't going to last since I was singing for leading worship and then preaching right after that, but it turns out i didn't lose my voice until the way home (connected with the cold I now have), which was definitely the best time to lose it if I was going to.

The first sermon was on the holiness of God and how the word "holy" often just becomes religious terminology that has little true meaning for us. I talked about what it really means when the Bible calls God holy and why that should matter to us from Isaiah 5:16-17. The second service I talked about how we have been made holy through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross from Hebrews 10:14. The aim of this message was to show that our sanctification is a work of God, not something was can take credit for. So the theme of that message was sanctification already completed and the theme of the last message was sanctification not yet completed. In the last service we talked about Philippians 3 and how Paul said he pressed on and strained ahead toward being made holy.

I tried to put all three messages together so that they gave a very full picture of what it means to be sanctified (sanctified was the theme for the week). Several of the youth commented that the way the messages came together in the end was really neat and I also got some comments that the individual messages really spoke to some of the students. So that was very encouraging.

As far as music went, we had some really good times as well. Its always good to lead worship for a group that comes prepared and excited to worship. And I really can't say enough about the group of youth that we had. I think i wrote about this some in my last blog, but the group was such a fun group to be with because they really knew how to have a good time and also when it was time to be a little more serious.

Well I hope you check out the pictures and videos I've posted on some of the other pages. If you click on Thailand Photos (2nd from the top in the site menu), it'll take you to the first page of photos and from there you can get to 3 more pages of photos and one page that has two short video clips on it. I'll write back again soon with some more details from my trip.
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On the way home soon

In about 4 hours, I'll be back on airplanes until I'm on the opposite side of the world, back in Louisville. I should get back around 6:00 on Sunday. The trip has been so much fun. The MKs (missionary kids) that we worked with were an incredible group of youth. Some of the most mature teenagers, both socially and spiritually, that I've ever been around and also some of the most fun. We didn't have to worry about watching them every second and they were happy and content with anything we did. There's probably never been a week of my life where I've heard so little complaining as this past week.

I've got tons of pictures from the week and I'll post those when I get back to the US and have a good internet connection. I'll also write a few more blog entries soon about different aspects of the trip: the week with the youth, the night market in Chiang Mai, the elephant camp I visited and some other things. Its been a really good week, like I said. I think I'm ready to come back home to a culture I'm a little more used to also. More to come...
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Hello International Travel

Well here I sit in the Tokyo airport. 13 hours is way too long to have to ride in a cramped airplane. It really wasn't too bad. They fed us it felt like every 30 minutes and the food wasn't bad. The airport here in Tokyo has everything in English on the signs too so its not really like being in a foreign country yet. I met a group from North Carolina thats going to help with the missionary conference. We're on the same flights so its been cool to talk to them a little bit. I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time today, and this is my first time in another country. Strange it should be Japan and not Canada or Mexico or something closer. Thats all the news for now.

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Good News

There's some good news to report in the search for a new church. I talked to a youth minister tonight who is looking for some help with music for his youth ministry. I'm visiting tomorrow morning to see what the church is like. I really enjoyed my talk with this youth pastor and I can tell we have similar ideas of what youth ministry should look like and integrate with the rest of church life.

I'm really looking for a place I can really plug in and help out at for this next year until I graduate this coming May. I think leading worship for youth would be an ideal place for it.

Of course I'll visit tomorrow and then be gone to Thailand for a couple weeks so I'm not expecting anything to be firmed up for a little while now, but I'm pretty excited about the news so I figured I'd let everyone know.

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Lesson 3

The third lesson I've learned from my time at my last church is that people that don't agree with a pastor's decisions are not to be feared. In this and other churches I've been a part of, pastors have been quick to brush aside and marginalize those who question their judgment.

Now I realize that there are some people out there that will never be satisfied with a particular pastor, no matter what happens. These ungodly church makers continually sow disunity and gossip, and we know how hard-to-get-along-with these people can be. I'm sure these people exist. I've heard stories. I just haven't met very many of them. Maybe thats just because I'm not a pastor yet and I'll be singing a different song in a year or two. But right now, I remain convinced that most people that disagree with the leadership of a church really have the best interest of the church in mind.

So what should happen when a pastor has a significant part of his congregation that disagrees with the direction he wants to go with a church? In my thinking he has two primary options.

First, he can meet with those who disagree and spend more time trying to convince them his direction is best. This includes listening to the concerns of the dissenters and convincing them their concerns will be addressed sufficiently. In this, the pastor brings on board those who were perviously opposed to his leadership.

Second, if this group cannot be convinced their concerns will be addressed sufficiently, the pastor has left the option of revising his original plan and compromising with those who disagree with him. This also has the effect of unifying the church behind a common vision.

I do not see pushing an agenda through a church as an option. Maintaining unity in purpose and action is one of the jobs of a pastor. Even if, in the end, there is still a small (5-15%) group that disagrees with the direction, that group should be respected and not marginalized because they have honest disagreements. Thats my 3 cents anyways.
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Lesson 2

Continuing my series on lessons learned from my last church, lesson #2 would have to be: Church leadership is much more important than church government.

When I wrote my 34 Theses for the Contemporary American Church (available here) about 3 years ago, I had a couple of entries on issues of church government. I said that I thought the most effective way govern a church was to have several elders as the spiritual leaders of a church. I still stand by that. I think that is the best way to set up the way a church operates.

However, I've just been through a 6-month battle over a church constitution that was driven mainly by a desire to install elders in a church. The battle was waged by men who may have known how to govern a church, but fell far short of knowing how to lead one. Feelings were hurt, members were alienated, disunity reigned during this battle. Something of a church split has occurred as a result.

One thing I learned from this whole episode is that I'd take a church well-led but poorly-governed any day over a church thats well-governed but poorly-led.

What has this taught me as I look forward to he pastorate? I'll likely be called to a church that is not led by a group of elders. And thats ok. That fact may not change while I am a pastor. And thats ok. Its not that big of a deal. Leading a church well is at the top of my priority list. Reforming church government is not.

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Week in Nashville

I leave tomorrow AM for Nashville and the Southern Baptist Convention. I've never been before so it should be quite an experience. I've talked to a few friends that I haven't seen in a while that will be there so it'll be good to catch up with some people. I'm not real sure what to expect, but I'm sure it won't be boring.

I won the consolation bracket of my tennis tournament today. That's the first tournament I've played since '99 when I played juniors. Maybe before then, I can't really remember its been so long. My first match was pretty ugly. The second match I won be Default cause the guy didn't show up. The third match I played better, I was pretty happy with that one.

So thats today's update. Nothing too big. Check back soon I'll continue my series on what I learned at my last church.
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Lessons Learned

I decided this week that I had to start looking for another church. Over the past 6 months or so, our church has been debating whether or not to adopt a new constitution. Over this period, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the way things were being done. I figured it would be a good idea to do a short series of entries on what I've learned through the whole experience.

The first lesson I've learned is that having good theology does not automatically mean you'll have a good church. Anyone who knows me well knows that I place a high value on theology. If you go over to the "Papers" page of my website and see that I have advocated repeatedly the need for greater theological understanding in the church at large. But this experience has reminded me that a church can have excellent theology and still face the same problems common to so many of our churches today.

This shows me that being a pastor is much, much more than urging a church to understand and believe what the Bible says. Its also about loving and humbly leading the people God has put under your care. If any of these are missing in a pastor and church leadership, a church is crippled and ineffective.

Pastoring is such a delicate balance. I hope that in my last year of preparation for the pastorate, God continues to show me what it means to strike that proper balance.

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Details on Thailand

Last time, I promised some details on my trip overseas this summer. I'll be traveling to Chiang Mai, Thailand for a missionary conference being held there. From what I know it seems like the IMB brings in missionaries from different parts of the world for this conference. I'll be working with these missionaries' teenagers. It'll be something like a version of the camps where I've worked the last few summers, we'll have Bible Studies and a worship service every day and then some other activities on different days. I'll be leading worship and preaching for the worship service plus other stuff to help out I'm sure.
The theme is sanctification and I'm planning on talking about what it is and what it looks like in our lives and Christians.

Probably my biggest worry is being able to relate to the youth on the trip. Most of them have lived overseas for most of their lives so they have very different experiences than the youth I am used to working with. I'm sure this will be a huge learning experience for me. I am really looking forward to getting to see the other side of missions. I really want my church (when I'm a pastor in another year or so) to focus on and really promote world missions. I feel like I understand the theological side of the need for missions, I just have not been exposed to the 'front lines.' (Not that I'll be on the front lines, but I'll be working with people who live on the front lines.) So I'm sure that I'll learn more than I could ever teach on this trip.

I've gotten my passport and my shots, so most of the basics are taken care of. Now, I'm working on my sermons and the music we'll be doing. Preparing these sermons is something you can pray for. I'm really hoping I can come up with illustrations and applications that these youth will be be able to relate to.

Thats about all I know so far... I appreciate your prayers and I'll try to keep the blog updated as I find out more.
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Summer Plans

I know, I know, its been forever since I updated this thing. Here's whats going on this summer. Next week (June 6-10) I have a class from 8-5 everyday. June 21-23 I'll be in Nashville for the SBC Annual Meeting. From June 27th to July 10th, I'll be gone for a trip to Thailand. There may be a few other items, I talked to Deane Hartzell today about working a week or two for the sports camps Infinity Sports are doing this summer. It should be a good summer, lots of variety, definitely.

I'm also working on a website for my dad's company, you can check that out at www.additionassociates.com.

Hopefully I'll get back to Virginia one or two more times before classes start back up in the Fall. We'll see how things work out for that. I'll try and write again soon with some more details about my trip to Thailand.
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Back in Louisville

Well the trip to Texas was awesome. Whenever I go back to Dallas, I feel like I'm really just coming back from a long break. It still feels like home.

The conference was really good. Os Guinness did an incredible job. I think the main theme I got out of his talks was the need for evangelicals to recover or discover a theology of calling. His point was that everyone should see excelling at their job as a ministry and not that the only "spiritual" line of work was some type of church or ministry work.

Visiting DBU was great and getting to see all my professors and others around campus. The campus looks good, as always (except for the fact the lake was green and matched the grass, see the Picture Gallery). Dr. Bell and crew are still doing well. I got to sit in on Hermeneutics and it brought back tons of great memories.

Seeing everyone at FBC Cedar Hill was probably the highlight. A bunch of my youth are about to graduate and head off to college at the end of the summer. I miss being up there with them and getting to teach and lead worship on Wed nights. I did get to teach Wes' Sunday School class on Sunday AM and taught the youth on Wed PM. Both of those seemed to go really well. It reminds me how much I miss getting to preach, but I know I'll have all the opportunity I want coming up here in a year or so.

Of course the visit to Texas was too short and here I am again in KY. At least the weather has gotten better, its been in the upper-70's both days since I've been back. Hope it keeps up! You never know here, it still might snow before the week is over.

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Texas, here I come

For Spring Break I'm getting to go back down to Texas. (I went to Dallas Baptist University for college if you didn't know already.) I'll be reading a paper at a conference. I 'm really looking forward to that... Not so much for me reading the paper though. Os Guinness is the keynote speaker for the event so I'll get to hear and probably meet him. That will be great.

I'll also get to see some of my friends from college and some of my professors. And I'm going back to the church where I was a youth intern for 2 years and I'll get to see some of my youth which will be awesome! Its going to be a good week. And no homework on top of that! Life doesn't get much better. I think the toughest decision I'll have to make is what book(s) to take to read on the plane. I think I've narrowed down the choices to Five Views on Sanctification, On Being a Pastor by Alistair Begg, or something in Intelligent Design. I'd take votes if I thought enough people visited the site to make a statistically accurate survey. You can email me if you have advice on that subject. I think its time for bed...

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Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder...

Just when I thought the roommate weirdness level had peaked, new frontiers were forged earlier today. I was cleaning my room around noon or so and my roommate was listening to music on his headphones. Well that might be a little bit of a stretch. I'm not quite sure if it qualifies as music... It's one of those strange bands that seems to have one member who's sole purpose is to scream loudly into the microphone at apparently random points during the song. How do I know, you may wonder, if he had on his headphones? Well he likes to turn it up loud enough so that it can be heard fairly clearly across the room. What do I care? They're his ears, right? It wouldn't be quite so amazing if they were the over-the ear type headphones. These obviously can get pretty loud. But these are the in-the-ear-next-to-your-eardrum type headphones.

So anyways, I can hear this music (being generous here once again) going on behind me and I figure everything's ok... That is until I hear him scream really loud like he just dropped something on his toe. I turn around wondering what has just happened to him and to my surprise, he's just standing there like nothing odd just happened.

I'm not sure if he suddenly got the urge to yell along with the random screamer mentioned earlier. (No, I'm pretty sure that's not it, it would make some amount of sense.) Maybe he does stuff like this on purpose. That would mean he purposefully makes himself look like an idiot. Maybe he's just really as weird as he acts. Who knows? At least his weirdness is useful for a few good laughs each day.

At any rate, the roommate weirdness level shot up once again today with no sign of it descending any time soon.

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Walking the Tightrope

Over the past week or so, I keep coming across the principle of the tightrope. Sermons I've heard, books I'm reading, class lectures seem to keep bringing up this issue. It's almost universally applicable.

Aristotle taught that the way to find the ethical choice was between two unethical extremes. Generosity and prudence in finances falls between the extremes of selfish hoarding and lavish spending. Courage in battle falls between cowardice that refuses to get out of the foxhole and reckless abandon that charges senselessly to sure death. Aristotle called it the doctrine of the mean.

The same principle shows up everywhere in religion. Christians must walk the tightrope between legalism and license; between speaking the uncompromised truth and not being a stumbling block with the way we express ourselves. Christians must find the balance between being insubordinate to church leaders and following them off a cliff.

Its amazing how prone we are as people to navigate toward an extreme on any particular issue. Ecclesiastes 7:18 says, "It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes."

What does this look like in a church? I think it means popular movements and leaders are noted and evaluated, taking the good we can learn from them while leaving the bad. It means preaching doctrine deep enough to dive into but not so deep our people drown. It means being involved in social issues without forgetting its first responsibility, the propagation of the Gospel. It means we love people enough to forgive them, and we love them enough to exercise church discipline when needed. Examples could be multiplied.

May God grant us the grace to avoid the extremes, lest we fall off one side or the other to the detriment of our witness to the world.
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Halfway through...

It's hard to believe, but the Spring 2005 semester is about half over now. I took my first mid-term exam last night and have several of them coming up next week. It sure doesn't seem like it's been long enough for us to be halfway through, but here it is anyway!

That means it's time (or past time) to figure out what I'll be doing over the summer. I have to get a few things done for school. We have to do a supervised ministry project sometime during our time here at Southern and hopefully I can get one or two other classes knocked out of the way so I can graduate in May '06 as planned. I'll try and update the blog as far as any summer plans. I won't be doing camp this summer, I do know that. I wouldn't be able to get any classes done and I feel like I'm getting a little old for camp, Crosspoint anyways. I was the oldest one on the team last year so that may have been an indicator Happy

I'm hoping I can work with a church to do some work in Christian education. That's not really my field of training here at seminary, but I feel like I could make some contributions to a church education program that a "normal education guy" couldn't do. We'll see how it works out.

Its off to do some reading...

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My stay in West Virginia

This weekend I spent the longest continuous period of my life in West Virginia. I know what you're thinking... But really, it was ok. I went skiing with the youth group of FBC London, KY. It was a great weekend. How could it not be when skiing is involved? Really?! I love skiing and I hadn't been in 4 years or so. It took a minute or two to get the feel back for it, but before too long I was back to my normal downhill skiing self.

I actually did pretty good. I didn't fall at all before lunch. I fell a few times after lunch. Only one of them was a really good spill. It hurt for a few minutes, but I was ok. I've been a little sore the last 2 days, which is to be expected. But that's ok. It reminds me that few of the best things in life are painless. Sure, I may be a little sore now, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

We had a great time with the youth. I did the music for our 3 worship sessions. It's always fun to get out of the seminary atmosphere for a little while and be involved in some "real ministry." It reminds me why I'm here. it's to prepare me for when I am out in a church so I can do my job better then. It makes me want to be out there, but it also reminds me of the importance of making the most of my time here.

There are some pictures of the ski trip on the Picture Gallery page.

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Has it been a week?

Time flies when you're writing papers and reading books! Has it really been almost a week since I've written on this thing? (Perhaps a more interesting question would be if anybody really knows its been a week...)

The interesting story of this week came out of my Practice of Ministry class. We learned about baptism this week... by baptizing each other, that is! Yeah, we went to a church in the area, put on our swim suits, and got in the baptistry 4 at a time. Then, we took turns "baptizing" the other three people in our group. Now this was funny.

One of the guys that "baptized" me forgot the fact that you're supposed to make sure the person goes entirely under the water. My head stayed completely dry. I wasn't quite sure what to do. I started to walk back to the steps but then I just busted out laughing and told the guy my head didn't go under. So we tried it again. You see why its a good idea to practice a few times before you actually have to do it in front of a church. I know that guy was sure happy to get a few dry runs... (sorry that was terrible...)

Until next time...

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Inerrancy and the Future of the SBC

Southern Baptists somehow manage to stay about 50 years behind the rest of the world in a lot of ways. One example of this is the conservative resurgence in our convention that began in 1979. We are probably the only major Protestant denomination to reverse a trend toward liberalism. The conservative resurgence was truly an amazing victory. We did, however, fight the battle about 50 years behind most of the other denominations. This isn't a bad thing. The success of the resurgence was partly because of this fact. We had witnessed the horrible condition of the denominations that had submitted to liberalism. We could more easily identify liberal theology by this time. Roe v. Wade had deeply stirred conservatives in this country and the conservative resurgence probably owed some of its success to this sentiment against liberalism in our culture and denomination. The conservative resurgence may not have been possible earlier in this century.

As with anything in history, even great events usually have some negative consequences. Let me see if I can explain what I mean...

Coming off the heels of the resurgence in the SBC, we have had leaders in nearly every denominational position who were quick to emphasize the inerrancy of Scripture. Bad? Of course not. We are thankful to God that these men have been willing to stand firm on this essential principle. Inerrancy is and should be a non-negotiable in the Southern Baptist Convention. So how has this hurt? I think it has often left the impression that anyone who believes in inerrancy is a suitable candidate to be held up to a leadership position, whether denominational, pastoral, or otherwise. There are more than a few bad preachers who are inerrantists. There are even more than a few heretics that claim to hold to inerrancy. (Open theists claim to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.)

Let me be clear, inerrancy should always be a litmus test for Southern Baptists. Someone who will not assent to the inerrancy of Scripture should not hold any position in our denomination. But we have to move past inerrancy. Inerrancy should be one of our presuppositions. Anyone not sharing this presupposition is ineligible, but once determined that someone does hold to it, we still have a lot of work left to do.

Pastors must not only pay lip service to a high view of Scripture. They must stop taking verses out of context. They must treat the Word of God with utmost respect through careful study. Too many pastors proof-text their way through sermons without ever really dealing in detail with what any particular passage teaches. This leads to shallow sermons which, in turn, leads to shallow churches and shallow Christians. Pastors must educate people to study the word for themselves and model the virtue of being a student of Scripture.

Seminary presidents must push for faculties who will instill in students the fact that they are not in seminary mainly for a degree, but for an education. Our seminaries graduate far too many who come to turn in their work and get a diploma and do not make use of the time of preparation God has given them. Our seminaries must push students to become lifelong learners. They must force students to dig deep wells from which they will draw throughout their entire ministry.

Agency heads must examine the methodologies of their agencies and make changes where needed. LifeWay Sunday School material should be the highest quality available. NAMB and IMB have to commit to missions methodologies that stress effectiveness over innovation. Ethics and Religious Liberty must find ways to reach the average church goer and engage individual churches in impacting the culture.

The battle against liberalism in our convention, at least for now, is over. We must remain vigilant that it never becomes a problem again. But we have new battles to fight. These battles are no less important than those fought by earlier generations. May God raise up new leaders who will build on the strong foundation already laid.

What are these new battles? I'll try and get to that in the next entry. This one's long enough Happy

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Who needs acceptance?

So I was reading this dissertation earlier today. It was on the history of the "sinner's prayer." It brought up a couple of interesting points, but there is one that has been coming to mind over and over again today. It seems like all evangelism or preaching today aims at getting a sinner to accept Christ. Its put different ways of course... Ask Jesus into your heart, pray to receive Christ... all basically meaning that we are ready, at that point of our lives, to accept Jesus.

However, if you read evangelistic literature before the middie 1900's or so, it is somewhat the opposite. Before that time, the sinner was admonished to ask God to accept him! It was assumed that we were the ones who needed acceptance. One prominent example is during the First Great Awakening, the greatest revival America has ever known. People under conviction of sin are said to have wailed aloud and convulsed for fear that God was not ready to accept them. They had a sense of the reality and weight of sin in their hearts. They knew God had to reach out and accept them! Some of these sinners under conviction would go for weeks in a state of near depression for fear that God had not yet accepted them. Until one day they would "obtain a hope" and be assured of their good estate with God.

What a contrast!

Now I'm not saying they were perfect in that time period, but it seems they may have had a lot right. Maybe more than we do. Maybe our focus in evangelism should be less on convincing someone to accept Christ, and more on convicing them they need to be accepted by Christ.

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Of the writing of many papers there is no end...

Ten pages is a LONG book review! I'm a little over half done, but the good news is that its not due til Thursday! Look at me, getting a head start. I'm trying to get better at getting my work done ahead of time. There's no doubt that lowers the stress level of seminary quite a bit. So far so good, we'll see as the semester goes on...

I really can't complain though. I love the work I'm doing, the books I'm reading, the issues I'm getting to spend time combing through. There are some ways that I can't wait for seminary to end... you know to get out there and do the "real work" I've been studying to do. Then there's a part of me that wants to stay here in the safety of theory. I guess its the question of whether or not all these ideas and conculsions that I'm coming to now are really going to work.

I see so badly the need for improvement in our churches, but I always wonder if I'm really going to be able to do any better. It's apprehension, really. The tendency to think that pastoring is about me and my "success" as a leader. Its so easy to forget that the church is about the glory of Christ. What a temptation for pastors! We all want to do great things for the kingdom of God. But how easy it is to let pride quietly infect this good desire! May God deliver me from pride so that he might use me to be truly effective for him.

Just a few thoughts... back to the book review...
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What to do on a Saturday...

Well, I can tell you what I've been doing this Saturday... Setting up this website. Since I last published a website, I've switched computers, platforms, and web-publishing programs. It's to be expected that it would take a few hours. Hopefully, I'll be able to spend some time updating content soon.

Other than that, I've been reading all day. Taking 15 hours in seminary is plenty to keep you busy. (Reading is what I did pretty much all day yesterday too.) But on a happier note, all that reading has done me some good. I finished 4 books this week. Here's the list in the off-chance you're interested:

Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance by Os Guinness. A great book! It was only 119 pages, I read it in 3 hours. Definitely worth your time if you have any to spare.

Letters to Timothy: A Handbook for Pastors by John Bisagno. For my Practice of Ministry class. Very helpful.

Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion by Stephen L. Carter. For my Church/State Relations class.

According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy. For my New Testament Theology class.

It feels good to finally finish a few! I feel like I don't do anything but read around here. But its good for me, that's why I'm in seminary, after all.

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