Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Six weeks missing

My mother-in-law, Shirley Hunt, is still missing. She has now been missing for six weeks. Yesterday (the 30th) a Texas Ranger came out and visited with Bobby (Hunt) about possible investigative help from his organization.

The Texas EquuSearch team has agreed to come to Rusk County to conduct another search of the area where she was last seen. Wednesday July the 25th, Bobby called Tim Miller, founder of Texas EquuSearch, about the possibility of their coming to the area to search for Shirley. Tim contacted the Rusk County Sheriff's Dept. and they set up the date of Saturday, August 11th. Shirley's picture and information was placed on the EquuSearch website a few days after she went missing, but this will be the first time they've been involved in the search. The date for their search is bittersweet, the 11th being the anniversary of Bobby and Shirley Hunt.

We appreciate everyone who has shown your concern for our family.

EquuSearch will be in Longview Saturday the 4th searching for
Brandi Wells.

Thy praise shall be my business

Common Meter (8,6,8,6)

God of my life, look gently down,
Behold the pains I feel;
But I am dumb before Thy throne,
Nor dare dispute Thy will.

Diseases are thy servants, Lord,
They come at thy command;
I'll not attempt a murm'ring word
Against thy chast'ning hand.

Yet I may plead with humble cries,
Remove thy sharp rebukes;
My strength consumes, my spirit dies,
Through thy repeated strokes.

Crushed as a moth beneath thy hand,
We moulder to the dust;
Our feeble powers can ne'er withstand,
And all our beauty's lost.

This mortal life decays apace,
How soon the bubble's broke!
Adam and all his num'rous race
Are vanity and smoke.

I’m but a sojourner below,
As all my fathers were;
May I be well prepared to go
When I the summons hear.

But if my life be spared awhile,
Before my last remove,
Thy praise shall be my bus’ness still
And I’ll declare Thy love.

-- Isaac Watts, 1719

Note: In the 1991 Denson edition of The Sacred Harp, 3 verses of this hymn is set to Timothy Swan's majestic piece entitled Poland (1785).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Brandi Wells - missing since August 2006

"Brandi Wells, age 24, was last seen at Graham Central Station night club on McCann Street in Longview, Texas on Thursday, August 3, 2006 around 12:30 a.m. and has not been seen or heard from since. Brandi was last seen wearing a dark tube top with large flowers, rust colored gaucho pants and high heeled sandals with flowers. Her black 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix was located on the westbound side of I-20 at the 591 mile marker the following day." -- From Texas Equusearch

Note: Texas EquuSearch has recently announced that they will be in Longview, Texas on August 4th to conduct a search for Brandi. They will need volunteers -- horses, ground searchers, and ATV’s.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The siege of Vicksburg

Today, Sacred Harp singers from north, south, east and west descended on the Mississippi River port of Vicksburg. Unlike the siege nearly 150 years ago, everybody came out a winner. Our hosts were great. The food was, too. A group of good singers assembled, and we sang in full voice and almost non-stop from the 1991 Denson and 2006 Cooper editions of The Sacred Harp, and the Christian Harmony (Alabama edition).* This provided an interesting combination of shape note singing in both four shape and seven shape. This singing was hosted by the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Mississippi Humanities Council in connection with the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music. This exhibit will be at the Foundation from June 28 through August 9.

Many will return to the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation auditorium to sing on Sunday, but for some of us
our several engagements call us away.

* In addition, we also sang two songs by John Merritt -- one composition was his original words and music, and the other was a poem by John set to the old hymn tune Mear.

Gaylon Powell and I talked yesterday about the possibility of a Christian Harmony singing in Texas. Anyone out there interested? BTW, the Powells were able to stay through the Sunday session, and reported that the Vicksburg singing will be made an annual event!

Martha Beverly has placed pictures from the Vicksburg singing online here.

Mutually exclusive, not collectively exhaustive

"Calvinism and Arminianism may be mutually exclusive, but this does not mean that they are collectively exhaustive...The complexity comes when (we) move from being biblical theologians to becoming systematic theologians. Then, we attempt to redact these biblical statements into something that we can comprehend. To fit all of these things together in a manner comprehensible to we humans, we must make them complicated." -- comments by Bart Barber on his blog, Praisegod Barebones, 27 March 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

How Wondrous are God's Ways

PSALM 103 PART 2 v.8-18 L. M.

God's gentle chastisement; or, His tender mercy to his people.

The Lord, how wondrous are his ways!
How firm his truth! how large his grace!
He takes his mercy for his throne,
And thence he makes his glories known.

Not half so high his power hath spread
The starry heav'ns above our head,
As his rich love exceeds our praise,
Exceeds the highest hopes we raise.
Not half so far hath nature placed
The rising morning from the west,
As his forgiving grace removes
The daily guilt of those he loves.

How slowly doth his wrath arise!
On swifter wings salvation flies;
And if he lets his anger burn,
How soon his frowns to pity turn
Amidst his wrath compassion shines;
His strokes are lighter than our sins
And while his rod corrects his saints,
His ear indulges their complaints.

So fathers their young sons chastise
With gentle hand and melting eyes;
The children weep beneath the smart,
And move the pity of their heart.
The mighty God, the wise and just,
Knows that our frame is feeble dust;
And will no heavy loads impose
Beyond the strength that he bestows.

He knows how soon our nature dies,
Blasted by every wind that flies;
Like grass we spring, and die as soon,
Or morning flowers that fade at noon.
But his eternal love is sure
To all the saints, and shall endure;
From age to age his truth shall reign,
Nor children's children hope in vain.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) The Psalms of David, 1719.
Copied as posted on "Song to the Lamb"

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wilson Thompson: the man, the book

Wilson Thompson, The Autobiography of Elder Wilson Thompson, His life, travels, and ministerial labors (Greenfield, IN: D. H. Goble) 1867 [reprint, Old School Hymnal Co. Conley GA 1978]

A rural one-room unpainted clapboard meeting house. A state-of-the-art church plant sprawling over several city blocks. What do these have in common? Baptists. Baptists meet in them. But do the Baptists that meet in them have anything in common? The Autobiography of Elder Wilson Thompson relates a time when New School and Old School Baptists had much in common. In fact in the beginning of his ministry, most of them worshipped together under a common name -- Regular Baptists.

I highly recommend this book. In it you will:

  • Learn about early 19th century Americans on the frontier
  • Learn the struggles and glories of 19th century frontier preachers
  • Learn about the "modern missions movement" from an Old School perspective
  • Learn about revivals and "hyper-Calvinism" on the western frontier
  • Learn about more than 2 divisions in the missions/anti-missions controversy

  • You may see things from a different perspective than you're used to.

Among my readers are Old School Baptists, Missionary Baptists and those who are not Baptists. Often Thompson is unknown outside the Old School/Primitive Baptist camp. You might be intrigued by Thompson's different perception of missionary Baptists Isaac McCoy and Jeremiah Vardeman. Those who have not read this book lack that much in their knowledge of Baptist history.

If anything about the book is disappointing, it is the fact that Thompson did not complete the book before his death. There are several years of his ministry that are not accounted for in the book. The last chapter was written by Wilson Thompson's youngest child (John Adams Thompson). I intended to write a book review, but my notes sat around til they got cold. So I decided on this brief recommendation.

Without pledging the reader to a belief in all the theological views of our deceased parent, we will be excused this humble eulogium on one whose memory is sacred to our hearts. “Few in any age of the church, since the days of the apostles, have labored more unselfishly to promote the cause of true and undefiled religion than has our father—Elder Wilson Thompson.”

"...Elder Wilson Thompson, was one of the greatest preachers of the age in which be lived and...his fame lives after him, for his name is known and honored wherever the Primitive Baptists are found."

"His first text, February, 1810, was John x:2, 3; and [he was] was ordained January, 1812, by Elders Stephen Stilley and John Tanner."..."Elder Thompson was the author of several books and pamphlets, among them “Simple Truth!,” “Triumphs of Truth,” “An Address to the Baptists of the United States,” in 1850, and his “Autobiography.” He was a strong writer, able debater and powerful pulpit orator."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A hard question

If you believe that Christ died to make possible the salvation of all men, what is your answer to the following?

If God equally loves all men, and Christ's atonement does as much for them that perish as for them that receive everlasting life -- then what is the difference that brings about the salvation of one and not the other?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Five weeks missing

For several weeks now I have posted a reminder that my mother-in-law, Shirley Hunt, is still missing. Each week I hope maybe I won't have to post this. But so far I have. This week brought a brief glimmer, with a possible sighting in nearby Kilgore, Texas. Further checking proved it was not her. Shirley has now been missing for five weeks.

Sacred Harp, high thoughts and best moments

"One of the last singings that I have attended was held at a typical rural church in northeast Mississippi...Later as I look from face to face of the singers and listen to their whole-hearted participation I realize that Sacred Harp singing is an expression of the highest and noblest thoughts and feelings of which these people are capable -- of what they believe and love and are in their best moments; in short, that perhaps more than anything else it is an expression of their total ideals and total sensibilities." -- From the papers of John Quincy Wolf.

Monday, July 23, 2007

O God of Bethel

O God of Bethel, by Whose hand
Thy people still are fed,
Who through this weary pilgrimage
Hast all our fathers led.

Through each perplexing path of life
Our wandering footsteps guide;
Give us each day our daily bread,
And raiment fit provide.

O spread Thy covering wings around
Till all our wanderings cease,
And at our Father's loved abode
Our souls arrive in peace.

-- original by Philip Doddridge, rearranged by John Logan, 1781

Sunday, July 22, 2007

“In praise of psalmody”

According to Greg Dixon, some of the benefits of Psalm-singing are: 
“You never have to wonder if you’re singing false doctrine...Since the psalms cover the full range of human experience as well as the fullness of God’s attributes, the worshiper has an ample and extensive vocabulary for worship: praise, thanksgiving, supplication, complaint, sorrow, confession, penitence, imprecation, outrage, testimony and messianic prophecy...Joy comes from knowing you are being obedient to the New Testament exhortations to sing psalms...Psalm-singing enriches and enhances your private worship as well as the public worship of God.” 
Read the rest of In praise of psalmody. – The Gospel Outpost, May 29, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Riding the camel again

In an earlier post, I introduced you all to something of which I recently heard -- the "Camel" method of evangelism. I found a link to the booklet/tract Camel Tracks...Discover the Camel's Secret in a comment made by Wes Kenney on Grace and Truth to You. I'm going to discuss some points from the "Camel Tracks" booklet. I've chosen it because it is available online for all to read. I know I have a varied readership, and this is somewhat Southern Baptist specific. I hope it won't be too irrelevant to most of you.

First, I want to address a few items I view as
red herrings.
1. The use of the name "Allah" for God when speaking/writing in Arabic. Some people may object to this, but (as far as I can tell) for most people this is a non-issue related to a language in which "Allah" means "God" or "supreme being" generically.
2. Mentioning the words of a Greek poet or Cretian prophet, as did Paul. Again, possibly there are some people who object to even mentioning the Koran when talking to a Muslim. That is not my objection. Really, I don't think anybody objects to a statement like "even the Koran says such and such about Jesus." [BTW, has anyone taken the time to notice that Titus 1:12,13 is closer to an insult than a bridge to evangelization?]
3. Americanizing the gospel. I don't doubt that there are some people who wish to export Westernization and Americanization with the Christian gospel.
T. P. Crawford warned about this exported western culturization back in the 1800s, and I think he was correct. To oppose the "Camel Method" of evangelism is not equivalent to desiring to export "Western Christianity" to all points of the world.

Now I will refer to specific things about and/or mentioned in
Camel Tracks...Discover the Camel's Secret by Kevin Greeson.

1. This booklet is written as if by one who converted from Islam to Christianity. Is Greeson, "a church planter, coach and trainer with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention", a former Muslim? I don't know, but I doubt it.* Note, though, on p. 18 Greeson says this was "recreated from the experiences of numerous Pakka Muslims..."
2. Greeson expresses gratitude to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and others for financing the translation of the Koran from Arabic into the languages or the world (p. 1). I personally can't get to a point of gratitude for someone increasing the readership of a false holy book. BUT, I do understand the point. Muslims who cannot read the Koran in their own language must rely on an interpeter rather than interpreting and understanding it themselves. The interpreter on many points could be far more radical than the book itself.
3. Greeson uses "Allah" for God throughout the tract/booklet. This tract is not in Arabic, where "Allah" is the word for God. It is in English. But the words of the tract are directed to Muslim readers, who would understand "Allah" as supreme being (but who would also understand "Allah" as the god of Mohammed and who gave the Koran). The BIG problem I have with this is not the use of the word "Allah", but rather that I cannot see that Kevin Greeson anywhere makes any distinction that God/Allah/Jehovah of the Christians and god/Allah of the Muslims is not the same God/god.** [Note: this should not be confused with red herring #1]
4. In my opinion, the booklet sends a mixed message about Islam, Allah, Muslims, and Mohammed. For example, on page 2, Greeson exhorts, "Do not miss out on Allah's message. Do not rely on someone else to tell you the message of Allah. Instead, find a Qur'an translated into your own language and together let's discover in it a treasure that will change your life." Now I think I can understand that Greeson really only wants the reader to understand the part of Allah's message that he discusses in the tract. But there is an implication that the Koran is Allah's message. Where does he make it clear that all of the Koran is not Allah's message?

5. Further, Greeson clearly abstains from calling Isa's (Jesus') converts Christians. Rather they are "Pakka Muslims" -- "true" Muslims or "complete" Muslims (p. 4). This implies that the faith of Mohammed and the Koran just needs to be clearly understood (rather than rejected). Muslim means one who surrenders/submits (to God), and Islam means surrender or submission. Certainly a convert to Jesus Christ ought to be one who submits to God. "Camel Tracks" says that "According to the Qur'an (Koran), the followers of Isa (Jesus) are Muslims!" (p. 13). Yes, we can justify this by saying that Jesus followers are 'those who surrender' (Muslims). But are we (and the Muslim reader of this tract) really to believe that is what the Koran means when it says that?? More likely it means that Muslims in the normal sense believe they are the true followers of Isa (as opposed to Christians being the true followers). Also notice on page 15 Greeson asks the reader to think "about the Muslim festival of korban." When he uses "Muslim" there, surely he means in the "normal" sense. This tract freely obscures the line between Christianity and Islam.
6. Strangely -- to me at least -- when Kevin Greeson refers to the Prophet Mohammed, he often writes, "the Prophet Muhammad,
peace be upon him..." (e.g. pp. 4, 11) Now why would a preacher of the way of the Nazarene proclaim a benediction upon a false prophet? I can't think of a good reason. I'm sure someone is poised with a cultural explanation. But really?
7. "A cow with only one leg cannot stand, but when he stands on all four legs, he is strong. A 'Pakka Muslim' read all of the Kitabs." (p. 9) In context of discussing Islam's four holy Kitabs (books; Taurat/Torah, Zabur/Writings, Injil/Gospels, & the Koran), Kevin Greeson gives us this illustration. I understand he wants to steer the Muslim back to the writings that precede the Koran, but in the end this attempt actually says the Complete Muslim needs all four of the Kitabs -- which includes the Koran -- to be strong. Paul said the inspired Scriptures are sufficient.

The seven points listed above are drawn from "Camel Tracks" to illustrate why I believe that at worst it comprises a pattern of deception, and at best exhibits a fear to clarify the claims of Christ. While there may be some passages in the Koran that are compatible with Biblical teaching, it is also true that most of its material is not. Further, the religion of Islam holds that Judaism and Christianity (and their writings) distort the message of the God of Abraham and His prophets. Muslims do believe that Jesus was a prophet. They also believe that He was just a man and not the son of God.

Finally, that brings me to a couple of related points. First, despite the tracts' "Islamic bridges" to the world's Muslims, in the end the concluding paragraph sounds a lot like trite Western easy evangelism that downplays repentance and faith in favor of a suggested prayer.*** Second, the whole idea seems to place salvation in a method. Oh, yes, I realize not directly so (and perhaps not deliberately). But I think we have bought into "how-to-ism" and some kind of idea of "methodology conversion" -- we don't make converts because we don't use the right methodology; we will make converts if we use the right methodology (and this very generally so; not just in the case of the "Camel Method"). On Bart Barber's
Of Muslims and Mohammed, Les Puryear cautions: "We need to confess and repent of our arrogance and pride and turning away from trusting fully in the God of the Bible and His ability to reach those whom He has sovereignly elected before time began. Methods and strategies will not save one lost soul."

* according to the book description at
** Of course, this is a little problematic, in that Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim "the God of Abraham". I have up to this point, though, understood that most Christians do not believe that the God who inspired the Old and New Testaments called Mohammed to be His prophet or gave the Koran as His words.
*** To be fair, there is no "repeat after me" prayer involved. But the tract suggests the prayer and its contents generally.
**** In
The Heart of a Baptist, Malcolm Yarnell says the "Camel" method encourages new Christians "to hide their faith, continue attending mosque or temple, and otherwise act like Muslims or Hindus. Ralph Winter and his U. S. Center for World Mission apparently consider baptism a Western rather than a biblical activity." [p. 11 online]

Friday, July 20, 2007

East Texas Sacred Harp Convention - coming soon

If you are interested in shape note religious folk music (or if you would enjoy a day or two of almost non-stop singing), I would like to invite you to the 152nd anniversary of the EAST TEXAS SACRED HARP SINGING CONVENTION -- held at the Community Center @ South High & Fairpark in Henderson, Texas, Saturday August 11th, and Sunday August 12th -- 9:30 a.m. til 2:30 a.m. (d.v.). Continental breakfast and lunch are provided, plus there will be a Saturday night informal gathering which includes a light supper and opportunities for more singing, socializing, or recreation.

Come sing with us (or just listen). For more information, directions, etc. message me. For more info on Sacred Harp -
The Sacred Harp Home Page and Sacred Harp Singing in Texas.

"Shaped notes -- helpful for those who know them, unobtrusive to those who don't."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The believer's safety -- Psalm 91

That man no guard or weapons needs,
Whose heart the blood of JESUS knows;
But safe may pass, if duty leads,
Through burning sands or mountain snows.

Released from guilt he feels no fear,
Redemption is his shield and tow'r;
He sees his Savior always near
To help, in every trying hour.

Though I am weak and Satan strong,
And often to assault me tries;
When Jesus is my shield and song,
Abashed the wolf before me flies.

His love possessing I am blest,
Secure whatever change may come;
Whether I go to East or West,
With him I still shall be at home.

If placed beneath the northern pole,
Though winter reigns with rigor there;
His gracious beams would cheer my soul,
And make a spring throughout the year.

Or if the deserts sun-burnt soil,
My lonely dwelling e'er should prove;
His presence would support my toil,
Whose smile is life, whose voice is love.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Another covey of quotes

"When preaching the gospel became a livelihood, even a lush livelihood, then the gospel became good news for the rich and for the mighty. For how else was the preacher to acquire and secure rank and dignity unless Christianity secured the best for all? Christianity thus ceased to be glad tidings for those who suffer, a message of hope that transfigures suffering into joy, but a guarantee for the enjoyment of life intensified and secured by the hope of eternity." -- Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

"Words are the chariots that ferry the legions of men’s thoughts." -- Benjamin S. Cole, on Baptist Blogger 27 June 2007

"Election campaigns are for choosing presidents, not popes." -- Jeff Jacoby in "Anti-mormonism gets personal"

"Forsaking the distilled wisdom of the past makes every man’s hat his own church." -- Timothy George in “Southern Baptist Ghosts”

"There is no orthodoxy without orthopraxy. It doesn’t exist." -- Tony Jones, in "Whence Hermeneutic Authority?"

"May Elijah and Moses disappear and Jesus Christ the well-pleasing Son be all you see." -- Anonymous, on Grace and Truth to You 28 June 2007

"It is neither necessary nor wise for us to add man-made rules to the Christian faith, not even man-made rules that are consistent with God's word. The Bible is sufficient (II Tim. 3:17)." -- John Kohler III on New Covenant Christian Forum, 05 Jul 2007

"The crowning glory and display of God’s sovereignty to the church is the transformation of rebellious, wicked sinners into saintly vessels of mercy." -- Stanley C. Phillips, in "Choosing Acceptable Words" (e-mailed by Hoyt Sparks 15 July 2007)

"In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Thy redeeming love
And how great is Thy faithfulness."
-- Jeremy Riddle, from his song "Sweetly Broken"

And (just to see whether you're reading)
"Liberals are driven by Satan and lie constantly." -- Ann Coulter in "That was no lady -- that was my husband"

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Four weeks missing

Today my mother-in-law, Shirley Hunt, has been missing for four weeks. We still don't have any "news" at this time. The family and law enforcement are busy following any leads that come up. Even rumors must be followed up -- anything that might help. Family members and friends spend time on the roads, driving and looking, and time is spent in posting pictures, sending letters and such like. Efforts to get her picture on national television have failed thus far, as far as I can tell. Evidently this isn't too "newsworthy" if there isn't a scandal involved. Last Friday, dogs from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Tennessee Colony were brought back to do some searching in the Good Springs area again.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and for every kind deed, and especially to the Lord Who has led you to do these things. A picture of Shirley can be found

Vanity of the creature sanctified

Honey though the bee prepares,
An envenomed sting he wears;
Piercing thorns a guard compose
Round the fragrant blooming rose.
Where we think to find a sweet,
Oft a painful sting we meet:
When the rose invites our eye,
We forget the thorn is nigh.

Now with every good we find
Vanity and grief entwined;
What we feel, or what we fear,
All our joys embitter here.
Yet, through the Redeemer's love,
These afflictions blessings prove;
He the wounding stings and thorns,
Into healing med'cines turns.

From the earth our hearts they wean,
Teach us on his arm to lean;
Urge us to a throne of grace,
Make us seek a resting place.
In the mansions of our King
Sweets abound without a sting;
Thornless there the roses blow,
And the joys unmingled flow.

John Newton (1725-1807) Olney Hymns, 1779.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Twelve Baptist Tribes and other books

This morning Albert Wardin let me know that his new book, The Twelve Baptist Tribes in the USA, is now available. In "Twelve Tribes", Wardin describes 53 different Baptist groups in the United States, including information on some lesser known groups. It includes sixteen very nice colored maps at the back of the book. To order The Twelve Baptist Tribes, contact Baptist History and Heritage Society, 3001 Mercer University Dr., Atlanta, GA 30342-4255; or contact Charles Deweese at 770-457-5538 or charlesdeweese--at--baptisthistory--dot--org. The book sells for $24.95 [with shipping should be $28.00, but check to be sure]. Dr. Wardin is author of several good books, including Baptists in Oregon, Baptists Around the World: A Comprehensive Handbook, Baptist Atlas, Gottfried F. Alf: Pioneer of the Baptist Movement in Poland, and Tennessee Baptists: A Comprehensive History 1779-1999. I will hope to get up a review of it on my blog at some future date (d.v.).

Also, to a list I'm on, Phil Hodson of writes, "I'm liquidating all of our used biblical and theological books with a big sale to help simplify my life. All USED books (including the Antiques) are HALF OFF the marked price. In other words, deduct 50% from the price you see. New books are at the prices marked, which are marked down as well."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cole Jackson

Evidently, thousands of people go missing every day in the United States. Many are found and some never are. Our experience has made me aware that there are a number of missing persons right here in our area. Highlighting a "local" missing person will become a feature of "Seeking the Old Paths" blog (d.v.).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The repentant believer is baptized

"At the time of his initial conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ, the repentant believer is baptized . . .

~ into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Mat. 28:19).
~ to be finally saved instead of finally damned (Mk. 16:15-16).
~ to be born of water (Jn. 3:5) and experience the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Tit. 3:5).
~ for the remission of sins and reception of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38; Col. 2:11-13).
~ to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16).
~ to put to death and bury his old man, i.e., the man he was before he repented and believed---and begin to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:11-13).
~ into Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27).
~ into the one body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28).
~ to put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).
~ to lay the foundation of his Christian life so that he can begin to progress toward final perfection (Heb. 6:1-2).
~ to be saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Pet. 3:21)."

-- posted by John Kohler III, Tues. 24 Apr 2007 18:57:49, on the Historic Baptist Symposium

Friday, July 13, 2007

What is the significance of foot washing?

I found the following on Heritage Baptist Bible Church (Walnut Grove, MN) web site, written by Max D. Younce, Pastor. Younce and the church do not hold the literal practice of feet washing, but I thought his presentations of the lessons from Jesus washing His disciples' feet made some good points. The entire article can be found here.

"Christ’s Incarnation, Humility, and Resurrection. (V.4) 'He (Christ) riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.' Supper represents fellowship, such as Christ had at the Throne of God and with all the heavenly host of Heaven--perfect peace, perfect love, and perfect fellowship! He arose from the throne of His glory, laying aside His garments of glory, and came to this stench-filled earth. 'He took a towel and girded himself,' illustrates to us that He was 'God manifest in the flesh.' (I Timothy 3:16), clothing Himself with the garment of human flesh and becoming a servant, humbling Himself even unto the death of the cross...

"In Verse 12, after washing the disciples’ feet, we are told that He 'had taken his garments.' In Verse 4, He had “laid aside his garments,” which represented His heavenly glory. Now, after His crucifixion, He takes back His garments, that is His glory, by His resurrected body. Philippians 3:20,21 explains, “…We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (i.e., His resurrected body)...

"So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, 'Know ye what I have done to you.' You will recall in Verse 4 that Christ 'laid aside his garments' which represented leaving His glory in Heaven and coming to this earth, clothed with sinless human flesh (the Virgin Birth) to pay for the sins of the world. Christ’s last word on the cross were, '…It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost (i.e. spirit).' (John 19:30). After three days and three nights he clothed Himself with his resurrected body and walked 40 days (Acts l:3; I Corinthians 15:3-8) as living proof He had conquered and has taken away the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14.15)...

"Christ’s humbling Himself to wash the disciples’ feet was a two-fold lesson: practical and prophetic. Prophetically, it is described in Philippians 2:7,8, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (V.7). 'And being found in fashion as a man, he HUMBLED himself, and became obedient unto death, even the DEATH OF THE CROSS.' (V.8). The practical example for every Christian today, is that we humble ourselves by exhibiting friendliness, kindness, hospitality, etc.; so that we may witness to the salvation that Jesus Christ has provided for all who believe."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Crummy church signs

"Crummy Church Signs by Joel Bezaire lampoons the sometimes ridiculous one liners, quotes and quips that US churches substitute for deep (real?) thinking. Joel's site is not for the weak, and sometimes Joel's comments are a little on the edge."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And I thought "camels" were cigarettes

"For years, evangelists and church planters have been using the Koran as a bridge to draw Muslims to the Gospel. This highly effective tool is controversial and complicated for Christians not familiar with the Koran. Camel Training settles the issue of using the Koran as an evangelistic tool and the Camel Method makes it easy to speak to a Muslim about Jesus’ holiness, power and position."
The Camel - How Muslims are Coming to Faith in Christ!

Camel method of teaching
Curriculum offers Texas Baptists help in forming relationships with Muslims
Is Camel Method leading thirsty world to oasis of truth?
Memorandum: The Camel Method
The Camel's Secret...Should Christian's Be Telling It?

Yes, I thought "Camels" were cigarettes. I often find I'm out of touch with what's going on in the real world. While reading at
Bart Barber's blog, I ran across a mention of this Camel idea of evangelism for "reaching" Muslims. I guess I thought most Christians believe the Bible is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness and that the Gospel found in its pages are what we are to preach concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe this "Camel" concept is unbiblical and rooted in a man-centered gospel that relies on methodology rather than Holy Spirit conversion. Nevertheless, for those who wish to read more, I have provided links about the "Camel Method" both pro and con.

Added note: Bart Barber will be reviewing The Camel: How Muslims Are Coming to Faith in Christ. He has posted a "before" thread -- Reading The Camel: Before -- and afterwards will post the review.

Related: Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest, claims to also be a practicing Muslim. Read more about it here and here.

More: Bart Barber has started his review, Of Muslims and Mormons, here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Three weeks missing (plus Silver Alert)

Today -- Tuesday 10 July -- my mother-in-law has been missing three weeks. Though search efforts continue, as of yet we have no information as to her whereabouts. We thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers and help you have given.

Since this happened, we learned that the Texas Congress passed Senate Bill 1315, and the Governor has signed it into law. It is supposed to be similar to the Amber Alert, and is called the Silver Alert. Some things the bill does: "provides that the public safety director is the statewide coordinator of the alert;" "sets forth the required actions of a local law enforcement agency regarding the assessment of the threat to a senior citizen’s health and safety caused by the senior citizen’s disappearance;" "requires DPS, in issuing the alert, to send the alert to designated media outlets in Texas;" "authorizes participating radio stations, television stations, and other media outlets, following receipt of the alert, to issue the alert at designated intervals to assist in locating the missing senior citizen;" and "requires a local law enforcement agency that locates a missing senior citizen subject to an alert under this subchapter to notify DPS as soon as possible that the missing senior citizen has been located." It becomes effective on September 1, 2007. Though it may not help us, I believe the Silver Alert will be a good thing that will help alert Texans to missing seniors who suffer from dementia.

Meat vs. minutia

"The irony is that most people crying for 'meat' are really crying for minutia. They want to learn the deeper truths about the times of the rapture rather than how to live the Christian life. True meat teaches people how to be transformed by the renewing of their minds so that they will live like Christ, love like Christ, and leave what Jesus left behind. But believers in church-focused ministries often think it is more important to teach about controversial subjects rather than transformational truths." -- Ed Stetzer & David Putman, Breaking the Missional Code (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006), p. 80.

"Too many of those who are passionate about digging deep into the Word are interested primarily or even solely in increasing their knowledge, while many Bible expositors are more concerned with helping their listeners to become scholars of the Bible rather than practitioners of it. The value of in-depth Bible study and teaching is not that it builds up our biblical knowledge, but that it equips us to live a life that honors God and is pleasing to Him." -- Tim Sweatman

Are We Going Deep Into the Truth or Drowning in Minutia? Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Some blogs I read

Comments from Old Whitaker - Wylie Fulton's blog
Led by an unknown way - Chris Crouse's blog
Nathan A. Finn - Nathan Finn's blog
Praisegod Barebones - Bart Barber's blog

From time to time I'm going to mention some of the blogs that I keep an eye on. Wylie and Chris are both Primitive Baptists and comment on a wide variety of subjects, from gardening to hymns to religious topics. Nathan and Bart are Southern Baptists and both are historians. Nathan's blog is now closed and archived, but there are a number of historical topics in the archives. Bart also comments on Baptist history, although right now he is spending quite a bit of time on some items of denominational politics. Give these guys a visit.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Calvinism and other acrostics

Below are several acrostics vying to replace the old standard T.U.L.I.P Calvinistic acrostic. Also included in Malcolm Yarnell's non-Calvinistic L.I.L.Y.

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

G.r.a.c.e., By an unknown author
God’s Sovereign Election
Radical Depravity
Accomplished Redemption
Called Effectually
Endurance of the Saints

Timothy George in "Amazing Grace":
Radical Depravity
Overcoming Grace
Sovereign Election
Eternal Life
Singular Redemption

Phil Johnson's outline (not an acrostic) of Calvinism based on I John 4:19 - "We love Him, because He first loved us." The outline is as follows:

  • Perverseness of our fallen state - (We could not love Him first)
  • Priority of God's electing choice - (He loved us first)
  • Particularity of God's saving work - (He loved us)
  • Power of His loving deliverance - (We love Him because)
  • Perfection of His redemptive plan - (We love)
Roger Nicole suggests the following replacements (the first is not an acrostic):
Radical and Pervasive Depravity
Sovereign, Divine Election
Definite Atonement (or Particular Redemption)
Effectual, Saving Grace
Perseverance of God with the Saints

      and Gospel
Obligatory (that is, indispensable)
Sovereign (in choice)
Particular (in redemption)
Effectual (in operation)
Lasting (that is, secure)

Preservation of the Saints

Absolute predestination
Specific Atonement

Total inability
Effectual Calling
(Paste can also be rearranged to "tapes", or "specific" can be changed to "limited" to then spell "Petal")

Malcolm Yarnell's The Lily:
Lord: Jesus Christ Alone
Integrity: Say what you mean, and Mean what you say
Love: The ethics of our Savior
Yieldedness: Discipleship is the Call of God upon us

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bi-vocational Pastors

Bowden McElroy posted this on his blog Interregnum (which is now closed) December 8th, 2006. I think it is worth passing along.

1. Paul was “partially funded” and it’s hard to go wrong with Paul as your role model.

2. There is a built in argument against the “hired gun mentality” that is prevelant in so many of our churches. When no staff member, including the pastor, is full time the laity must step up. Or, watch the church die a slow death while lamenting the lack of a full-time pastor.

3. It is easier to be fearless. I believe men are hard-wired to be providers for our families. Even the most faithful of men will think twice - and possible shy away from taking a much needed stand -- if their livelihood is on the line.

As a bi-vocational minister, I am completely at ease over this kind of tension. The worst thing the congregation can do to me is fire me… in that case I’ll simply go to my office and make more money there than what the church was paying me. I’ve maintained my integrity, my family is provided for, and the congregation is free from any kind of prolonged battle over whatever the issue was.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Baptism and conversion

"I do not believe there is anything magical or mystical about being immersed in water, or that being immersed in water itself changes people's lives. This idea is too superstitious for me.

"I believe elect, redeemed, regenerate human beings enter into the conscious, subjective experience of their salvation when they are initially converted to the Lord Jesus Christ. I further believe that initial conversion to Christ takes place when a repentant believer is baptized, not before he is baptized.

"I also believe that Romans 6:3-6; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-29; and Colossians 2:11-13 refer to water baptism, not to Holy Spirit baptism."
[By John Kohler III, in "Far More than a Mere Symbol", on the Historic Baptist Symposium, 7 June 2007]

Is this language strong enough for you? Too strong? Could you close a sermon with Acts 2:38? Have you?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Two weeks gone by

At 3 p.m. yesterday Shirley Hunt had been missing two weeks. It has been a long two weeks for her family and has brought the questions, "Will we find her and, if not, in what manner will we go on?" Have we been sentenced to drive every road looking, to watch every buzzard flying, to go to sleep every night wondering? If that is the sentence, may we in it glorify God Who does all things well. In times like these, perhaps we are tempted to adopt the philosophy that "things don't happen for a reason, they just happen." But if on good days we believe there is "a time to every purpose under the heaven" and "that all things work together for good to them that love God," must we not also admit that this is true on bad days as well?

Brethren, farewell, I do you tell,
I’m sorry to leave, I love you so well.
Now I must go, where I don’t know,
Wherever Christ leads me the trumpet to blow.

Here I have worked, labored awhile,
But labor is sweet if Jesus doth smile.
When I am done, I will go home
Where Jesus is smiling and bids me to come.

This hymn has been a blessing over the past several days. I've listened to it on "The Owen Family: A Heritage of Singing," which in God's providence was in the CD player. Are not all of God's children like David, who, "after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep?" When we are done, we will go home.

Note: The tune "Christian's Farewell" by Raymond Hamrick is found in The Sacred Harp (1991 Denson Revision) p. 347; the words are from Benjamin Lloyd's Primitive Hymns (an arrangement of verses 1 and 3, #621).

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Early church quotes

Polycarp: "O Lord God Almighty, the Father of the beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by Whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before Thee, I give Thee thanks that Thou hast counted me worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Thy martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption by the Holy Spirit. Among whom may I be accepted this day before Thee as a fat and acceptable sacrifice, according as Thou, the ever-truthful God, hast foreordained, hast revealed beforehand to me, and now hast fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise Thee for all things, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with Whom, to Thee, and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen."

Minucius Felix said, "That many of us are poor is not our disgrace but our glory."

Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

"I could wish nothing better for you than this, gentlemen, that you may come to the same opinion as ourselves and believe that Jesus is the Son of God." – Justin Martyr, from The Answer to Trypho.

Justin Martyr said, "Wherever there is truth it comes from Christ and so it belongs to us."

Tertullian: "What then has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What has the academy to do with the church? What have heretics to do with Christians? Our instruction is from the porch of Solomon who himself handed down that the Lord is to be sought in simplicity of heart. Away with those who produce Stoic, Platonic, and Dialectic Christianity. We have no need of curiosity after we have Christianity, nor of inquisitiveness after we have the Gospel. Since we believe we desire nothing else to believe. For the first thing we believe is that there is nothing else we ought to believe."

Tertullian: "I believe because it is absurd. God's Son has died. That is credible because it is foolishness. And He was buried and is risen. That is certain because it is impossible."

Monday, July 02, 2007

If it happens, it's their fault!

Early Christians in the Roman Empire were a favored scapegoat. They were blamed for almost everything. Tertullian wrote, "If the Tiber reaches the walls, if the Nile does not rise to the fields, if the sky does not move so that there is drought, or if the earth does move so that there is an earthquake, if there is a famine, if there is a plague, the cry is at once, 'Send the Christians to the lions!'"

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Baptist history celebration next month

On August 1 next month, a Baptist history celebration will kick off in conjunction with the 300th anniversary of the Baptist association in America.

Philadelphia Baptist Association, organized in 1707, is considered the first and oldest "association" in America. The celebration coincides with the 300th year of the Philadelphia Association. But the General Six-Principle Baptist Rhode Island Yearly Meeting was possibly formed circa 1670. Certainly Regular Baptists were by far the more numerous and influential, and they and the Philadelphia Association have the greater influence on the continuing history of Baptists in America. But as far as I can tell, despite calling it a "yearly meeting" rather than an "association", the Six-Principle Baptists in Rhode Island had organized over 30 years before the Regular Baptists. It then would be the oldest gathering of Baptists beyond the church level, predating the Philadelphia Association by about 37 years. If we look at "association" as a formal organizing beyond the local level rather than just the name itself, is it possible that we have skewed our history by not recognizing the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting as the oldest?

In the Six-Principle Baptist article entry in Dictionary of Baptists in America, J. T. Spivey says the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting was formed "in the 1670s". I have several years of annual reports. The 1983 report (then called the General Six-Principle Baptist Conference of Rhode Island) lists that meeting as the 313th annual conference. Assuming this counting is done as most associations do, it would have been organized in 1671 (subtract the annual number and then add one). If an "association" is a formal organizing beyond the local level (more important than the specific term "association"), the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting rather than the Philadelphia Association is probably the oldest in America. But the Philadelphia Association has a clearly established history back to 1707, while the 1670 Rhode Island Meeting date is based mostly on tradition.

Nevertheless, the Baptist history celebration itself appears to be a history lover's dream.