Friday, February 28, 2014
Strengthen the Things that Remain: Human Dignity, Human Rights, and Human Flourishing in a Dangerous Age — An Address at Brigham Young University
An address delivered as a Forum Lecture in the Marriott Center Arena at Brigham Young University by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on Tuesday, February 25, 2014.
I am honored once again to visit Brigham Young University and to address both faculty and students at this great institution of higher learning. When I visited last October to speak in a different BYU context, I had the honor of meeting with members of your faculty and administrative leadership and I deeply appreciated the conversation we shared. I also had the privilege of spending time with some of the General Authorities of your church, including Elder Tom Perry, Elder Quentin Cook, Elder Dallin Oaks, and several others. I am glad to know these men as friends. We face many challenges, and we face many of those challenges together. As always, BYU has extended the most gracious hospitality and welcome, and I am very thankful for the honor of being with you once again.
The presence of the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary behind the podium at Brigham Young University requires some explanation. I come as an evangelical Christian, committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the trinitarian beliefs of the historic Christian faith. I come as one who does not share your theology and who has long been involved in urgent discussions about the distinctions between the faith of the Latter Day Saints and the faith of the historic Christian church. I come as who I am, and your leaders invited me to come knowing who I am. I have come knowing who you are and what you believe and my presence here does not mean that the distance between our beliefs has been reduced. It does mean, however, that we now know something that we did not know before. We need to talk. We can and must take the risk of responsible, respectful, and honest conversation. We owe this to each other, and we owe this to the faiths we represent. And we had better talk with candor and urgency, for the times demand it.
My presence here is indicative of one of the strangest and most ironic truths of all — that the people who can have the most important and the most honest conversations are those who hold the deepest beliefs and who hold those beliefs with candor and engage one another with the most substantial discussion of the issues that are of most crucial importance to us. And thus the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is thankful to be among you at Brigham Young University. You are a university that stands, as all great universities stand, for the importance of ideas and the honor of seeking after the truth. I come to honor the importance of ideas and the centrality of the search for truth with you.
Read the entire address by Albert Mohler here.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
"If a journal is not in your writer’s tool kit, it should be. Proven to be a stress reliever and healthy for mind and body, it can also unleash the creative juices in each of us. While it can serve as a diary by simply recording your daily deeds and innermost thoughts, a journal is much more.
Writing down what inspires you and your goals triggers your imagination. But also include the concrete: “to-do” lists that can include the mundane chores, errands and grocery lists or “must do” lists that could resemble a bucket.
In How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, Michael J. Gelb describes Leonardo’s journaling habits, which are intriguing to say the least! This is an excellent resource for writers and I highly recommend it – it is, um, pure genius! The following is a list of ideas to jumpstart your journal."
Read the entire article by Rebecca DeMarino here.
"Let’s be honest, while there are some good reasons for leaving a church, there are a lot more bad ones. As a pastor, I hear some of them every now and then as people walk out the door. As a church planter, I hear them constantly as people walk in the door.
Read the entire article here.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Kirsten Powers argues in USA Today that Kansas’ recent effort to protect religious freedom is akin to enacting Jim Crow laws. She writes:
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The Southern Baptist Convention will encounter affliction as it serves the Lord, but will complete its God-given mission because of the Lord's promises, Luter said in his presidential address to the SBC Executive Committee Feb. 17 in Nashville.
Using Psalm 34:19 as a text, referencing the Old Testament's Job and adding humor with the fictional James Bond, Luter said the Lord not only brings tribulation to the righteous, but successfully brings the righteous through those same troubles.
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous," the Scripture reads, "but the Lord delivers him out of them all" (NKJV).
Read the entire article by Diana Chandler about Fred Luter's address here.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater.
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction, He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
- Annie Flint
Monday, February 17, 2014
Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal spoke out recently at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library on the increasing threat against religious liberty in the USA. Diana Chandler wrote an article covering his speech . . .
Americans must fight at the state level to protect religious liberties threatened by the Obama administration, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in an address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library.
Kansas and Kentucky are the most recent states to pass such protective laws in the wake of the failed federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, but more states must follow suit, Jindal said in a Reagan Forum address Thursday (Feb. 13) in Simi Valley, Calif.
"We must enshrine in our state laws strong legal protections for churches, religious organizations and individual believers. No church or church-affiliated organization or individuals whose business is run in a manner consistent with their faith practices should be required by the state to take steps in conflict with their religion," Jindal said. "Nor should they be legally punished for how they treat marital arrangements outside the teachings of their faith."
Read the entire article by Diana Chandler here.
Christianity is not a legal relationship, it is a love relationship. Ten thousand “don'ts” will never make you one iota more like the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Himself Who makes you like Him. But you need to spend time with Him. I want to give you five factors for spending some quiet time with Him each day.
The Proper Period
You must find the right time. Your quiet time should last at least half an hour. But some time is better than no time, so if you can't start at thirty minutes, begin with ten. It should be your very best time. Don't give the Lord your leftovers. And don't try to find time - make time, and make it a priority. Also find time early in the day. Psalm 5:3 says, “… in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.” You don't take the trip and then read the map, do you? Spend time alone with God to begin your day.
The Proper Preparation
A quiet time is fellowship with a holy God. There are a few things you can do to be prepared for this time. First, be physically alert. Find a time when the cobwebs are out of your mind and you can think clearly. Second, be mentally aware. Be focused, and know He's there. Emotion doesn't really have all that much to do with it. And third, be morally pure and clean. Some people don't have a quiet time because they feel uncomfortable looking God in the face with sin in their lives.
Read the entire article by Adrian Rogers here.
Friday, February 14, 2014
The Richard Blackaby article I posted on Wednesday got me thinking and reading more on this subject. The following article by Jack Hayford is one that he has used numerous times in various publications. I find his list of the seven ways through which God speaks to be helpful. . . .
Through the years I have learned to respect Pastor Jack Hayford, author of the acclaimed worship song Majesty. Internationally recognized as a shepherd of shepherds in the Body of Christ, the Lord has used Pastor Jack profoundly in this generation. I first heard him in person in 1995 at an Atlanta Promise Keepers gathering. Teaching from Exodus 3, he asked every man in the Georgia Dome to take off his shoes and get on his knees. It was quite a holy moment in my memory.
Though I don't agree with all of Hayford's theological bents (nor would he agree with all of mine - but we can love and respect each other as brothers in the Lord), I respect him as a man of the Word, of prayer, and a man committed to walking closely with God. Hayford through the years has challenged believers to prepare themselves to learn to listen to the voice of the Spirit, and he takes issue with those in Christ's Body who don't like the idea of the Lord speaking today or the Spirit leading His people. In his book on spiritual disciplines, Living the Spirit-Formed Life, he includes "Committed to Hearing God's Voice" as the first discipline.
The following article, "God Still Speaks," appeared in Ministry Today. The basic content has been used in several of Hayford's publications and sermons.
"Some say God speaks only through the Bible. But an honest look at Scripture reveals many ways God has chosen to communicate to His children.
Pardon my bluntness, but I'm really getting tired of hearing respected evangelicals attack anyone who says, "The Lord spoke to me." A growing body of verbiage today debunks the idea that God speaks personally to people any more. Although there is value in warning against kooks, I'm disturbed. These attacks seek to ban a biblical, privileged expectation of the redeemed and also level wholesale assaults on anyone who claims a word from the Lord or that God spoke to them in the privacy of their own walk with Him.
Let me shout it: Yes, God's Word is absolute authority! I don't know any spiritually alive or reasonably alert Christian--charismatic or not--who ever thinks otherwise. Whatever demographic studies may regrettably report of "Christians" who live according to their own subjective or relativistic values, they don't represent me, and I doubt they represent you."
Read the entire article by Pastor Jack Hayford here.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
"The Blackabys are not unfamiliar with criticism; of that you can be sure. We have had well meaning critics challenge everything from our choice of Bible translation to our use of sermon illustrations. But undoubtedly the subject for which we receive the most invective is our assertion that God speaks to people.
Invariably if we suggest in preaching or writing that God communicates with people directly, we are quickly reminded by self-appointed orthodoxy police, that we are sadly misguided. If we ask why they are so concerned about our teaching, our critics will hasten to inform us of someone they knew once, who claimed to have received a “word” from God that it was OK to commit adultery with their secretary and therefore it is far too dangerous to encourage people to assume they can receive a direct word from God themselves. . . One hates to think that because one misguided believer lied about hearing from God, now no one is allowed to receive a divine word.
If we suggest that the Bible is our instruction manual for the Christian life and that it provides numerous examples in both the Old and New Testaments of God speaking to people, our watchdogs will immediately assure us that God no longer needs to speak to people directly because we now have the Bible. Therefore, every word of instruction we require can be found in its written pages."
Read the entire article by Richard here.
Picture used by permission from Pixabay
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The last couple of weeks I challenged our church to fast and pray. I told them that so often we are satisfied to live spiritually on vanilla wafers when God wants to give us prime rib. We become so satisfied with the world and its pleasures that we stop delighting in the Lord. Fasting is one of those spiritual disciplines the Lord has given us to teach us again to enjoy Him and experience His presence and power in fresh ways.
Richard Foster, author of the best-selling book Celebration of Discipline, shared once that he did not think the American church will survive the 21st century if she does not return to the spiritual disciplines of fasting and solitude.
Pastor Jack Hayford, who for several years served as the President of his denomination, shared, "Fifty years of leadership have taught me—there is no greater spiritual means to see the release of the Holy Spirit’s power than united fasting and prayer. Fasting somehow cripples the Adversary’s ability to withstand and breaks his capability to sustain strongholds set in place against us. Prayer opens heaven’s windows!"
Elmer Towns of Liberty University has provided some excellent resources to inform and equip people who want to seek the Lord through fasting and prayer. I highly recommend either of the two following books. Fasting with the Lord's Prayer provides basic, practical teaching on how to fast and how to pray the Lord's Prayer as a guide. Then, Town provides 21-days of meditations to use while fasting.
Another book by Towns, Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough, explains eight types of biblical fasts, people in the Bible who did such fasts, and the reasons behind fasting in those ways.
I love testimonies from God's people that share special ways that God has worked in their lives. Roy Hession said, "Prayer is the foundation for revival, and testimony is the spark that ignites it."
I found online a tremendous digital resource written by Elmer Towns and Jerry Falwell called "Fasting Can Change Your Life" that includes short interviews with more than twenty well-known Christians (many of my modern heroes) including Jerry Falwell, Bill Bright, Jack Hayford, D. James Kennedy, Jimmy Draper, Larry Lewis, Evelyn Christenson, Elmer Towns, and Ronnie Floyd. They each share personal testimonies of fasting and praying.
Jerry Falwell shares of their church fasting and praying for the healing of two people in their church - and of his fasts when he sought God to pay off the debt of Liberty University (more than $100 million!). He shares that during his first 40-day fast when he kept asking God for the money, "He impressed upon my heart that I needed to get close to Him, to listen to Him and to trust Him. When I asked for money, God would not let me ask for money but to learn to know Him better."
Al Henson shares how their new church plant learned to fast and pray which resulted in their church receiving 24 acres of land.
Jane Hansen shares about fasting and praying for her son to be released from a drug addiction.
"A few years ago, I picked up a hobby: woodworking. I watched a few television shows featuring master craftsman making furniture and it caught my attention. I figured I could learn that art form and began to invest in some tools: table saw, routers, drill press, bandsaw, and other denizens of the woodworker's shop. Turns out, it’s a tough hobby. The guys on television made it look easy. That’s the advantage of filming retakes until it turns out the way they want. One host did an episode of his mistakes. He’s my favorite.
The thing with woodworking is the number of ways a worker can mess things up. The possibility for mistakes is endless: the wood drifts a little to one side when going through the table saw, the hand plane digs a little too deep can removes more wood than desired, a stain doesn’t take . . . okay, now I’m just depressing myself.
When a mistake happens, and it will, the craftsman must decide if the piece of wood can be salvaged or needs to be tossed. The thing about woodworkers, especially the master craftsman, is they can see every mistake in a piece, especially if they’re the one who made it. An experienced worker can see if a joint is off by as little as thirty-second of an inch."
Read the entire article by Alton Gansky here.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
The following is advice I modified and added to from Donald Whitney's excellent book Spiritual Disciplines within the Church.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
President Ronald Reagan shares a 1983 Christmas Eve radio address to the nation. Listen as he gives honor to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, talks about the nation's spiritual heritage and dependence upon the Almighty, and encourages the spirit of Christmas in our nation. Oh for more leaders like Reagan who are not ashamed of Jesus Christ, who understand the nation's Christian heritage, and who proudly promote the spirit of Christmas!
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Last night’s debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham attracted a huge international audience and no shortage of controversy—even before it began. Bill Nye, whose main media presence is as “The Science Guy,” and Ken Ham, co-founder of Answers in Genesis and founder of the Creation Museum, squared off in a true debate over one of the most important questions that the human mind can contemplate. That is no small achievement.
I enjoyed a front row seat at the debate, which took place even as a major winter storm raged outside, dumping considerable amounts of snow and ice and causing what the local police announced as a “Class Two” weather emergency. Inside the Creation Museum there was quite enough heat, and the debate took place without a hitch. Thankfully, it also took place without acrimony.
The initial controversy about the debate centered in criticism of Bill Nye for even accepting the invitation. Many evolutionary scientists, such as Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne, refuse to debate the issue, believing that any public debate offers legitimacy to those who deny evolution. Nye was criticized by many leading evolutionists, who argued publicly that nothing good could come of the debate.
Read the entire excellent commentary by Albert Mohler here.