As some of you may have noticed, I have updated a few things on my blog over the last week or so.
One of the updates that I made was adjusting the categories so that clicking on the categories no longer takes you to the "fake" blog that I created as a work-around for the fact that blogger did not have that feature previously.
I have went through a number of the older posts and added labels, but I have not made it through all of the old posts to add new labels to them yet. I also decided that while I may have a bunch of labels that I actually use on posts, I don't think I will include all of them as side categories. Of course, you can always click a label at the end of a post to see what else has the same label.
I have also added a link to Goodsearch. Goodsearch is a search engine that is powered by Yahoo! and gives money to the charity of your choice each time you use them to search - supposedly about 1 cent a search. Obviously it will not add up to much unless a whole bunch of people use it, but it could perhaps bring in a little extra cash (for instance 10 people performing 5 searches a day would add up to $182.50). Some of the bigger organizations like Cystic Fibrosis Foundation have earned $3,120 according to the Goodsearch web-site, but we are a small church. Goodsearch also offers a Goodsearch toolbar that can be downloaded and used to search with Goodsearch from whatever web-site you are browsing. You need to indicate which charity you would like to get credit for your searching. If your church is not signed up, our church (Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury) is on the list of approved charities for which you can search. (This Goodsearch link and the one on the side of the blog take you to the Goodsearch sight with Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury prepopulated in the "Who do you Goodsearch for?" section. ) If you use the Goodsearch toolbar, make sure you choose your charity manually (where the toolbar says "My Charity"). I started using this a few weeks ago before putting up the link to make sure that it worked without causing any problems. I use the toolbar primarily. The toolbar also has a popup blocker, which is a nice feature and works pretty well.
Anyway, I am not sure how much blogging I will do in the next week or so. I have done some orientation on Thursday and Friday and I start my first of three night shifts in a row on Tuesday night.
Just my thoughts,
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Sansone's Gifts for Families
Visit Sansone's Gifts for Families
As some of you may have noticed, I have updated a few things on my blog over the last week or so.
Wow! The Thinking Man's Tourney Time has tightened up big-time.
Ohio State managed to keep their heads together even when Oden spent most of the time on the bench in the first half and Georgetown failed to use Hibbert effectively and now my lead in The Thinking Man's Tourney Time is down to 3!
UCLA needs to beat Florida for me to win. A UCLA win would seal the victory for me. A Florida win would give Sam Knisely the victory and moves Ron Bean into a tie with me for second place. A Florida championship moves Brother Bean into second place by himself and moves me into third place.
So, GOOOO BRUINS!!!
Just my thoughts,
Oh, Oh Alfallo (sp?) has three fouls in the first half. URGH!
On Thursday, I do something I have not done in a long time. I re-enter the secular work-force.
I am not resigning from beign Pastor or anything like that, but, with the expense of the new church building, our church was in need of making some difficult choices if we wanted to balance our books this year.
So, in our January meeting, I took a 20% pay decrease to help us get things back on track. So far, it has worked out pretty well from the standpoint of the church, but for the last few weeks, I have been trying to find a part-time job that I could work around my church responsibilities and around my wife's job. (Missy is a labor and delivery nurse at PRMC.)
Last week I was hired to work overnight stocking at Wal-Mart. I am pretty sure that fellow blogger and very poor NCAA Tournament participant Scott Bothwell also works overnight at Wal-Mart if I remember correctly.
Anyway, on Thursday I have my orientation. I think I actually start working some time next week. The job is a temporary assignment (the store is hiring for a 90--day remodeling project) and I am not sure what our situation will be when the temporary assignment is completed. (They indicated that they will likely hire some of the temporary hires for more permanent positions after the remodeling, but I don't know if I will be chosen for this or if I will need it still at that time.)
I expect I will be trying to streamline some processes in my life over the next few weeks, but I also figure that there are 416 employees at the Wal-Mart that I have not yet met, so "a great door and effectual is opened unto me."
I do not know what the policies are regarding blogging and the job, but orientation is on Thursday and I will probably find out then. If you think about it in the next few days, pray for me and my family as we make this adjustment.
Just my thoughts,
The Final Four is set. Ohio State versus Georgetown in one game, Florida versus UCLA in the other game.
These should be some good games. This has been a good tournament this year, although without as many of the big upsets that often make the first weekend more exciting.
Things at The Thinking Man's Tourney are heating up. With three games left to play, there are still three of us with a chance to win. At this point, it looks like the key game will be the UCLA versus Florida game. I have picked UCLA to win it all, while the next three players in our little bracket challenge have all selected Florida.
The top five leader board is as follows:
Frank Sansone - 216 points (42 correct)
Sam Knisely - 207 points (45 correct)
Ron Bean - 204 points (44 correct)
Brian Morris - 201 points (40 correct)
Andy Rupert - 187 points (41 correct)
If I am reading the CBS Sportsline information correctly, the top three still have a chance to win, but Brian and Andy have officially been eliminated from winning (Brian can achieve no more than 214 points, which falls below the 216 I already have.)
Sam has moved ahead of Ron in both wins and points after this last round. They both have Florida winning it all, so I don't think Ron can move back ahead.
Just my quick thoughts before taking the kids to school,
We are quickly approaching the end of the 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and with that, the end of the 2007 edition of The Thinking Man's Tourney Time.
As we have reached the Elite Eight, the top five scoring for The Thinking Man's Tourney Time is as follows:
1. Frank Sansone - 205 (40 correct)
2. Ron Bean - 194 (42 correct)
3. Sam Knisely - 191 (42 correct)
4. Brian Morris - 184 (37 correct)
5. Andy Rupert - 177 (39 correct)
Both Ron and Sam correctly picked seven of the eight teams in the Elite Eight.
With USC's loss to UNC last night, I only have five of the Elite Eight remaining - and I am now missing two of my Final Four.
Some may wonder how I can be in the lead with the stats like I just mentioned. Well, I run the tournament :). Just kidding. Actually, I have picked the West bracket almost completely perfect (the only game I missed was a first-round mistake of picking Gonzaga over Indiana) and the scoring is such that you are awarded one point per round for getting a game correct, plus the seeding of the winning team. Thus, picking VCU over Duke (which I did) and Winthrop over Notre Dame (which I did) gives you 12 points in the first round for each of those games (1 for the round and 11 for the seeding). As the rounds increase the round points for each victory increases (so, a win by a team in the Final Four is worth 5 points plus the seeding). So, while I have a lead, I believe I can still be beaten, depending on which teams win. Both Ron and Sam have Florida winning it all, while I have UCLA, so we'll see how things develop.
Just my thoughts,
I just realized I had not posted an update regarding the standings for A Thinking Man's Tourney after Round 2 of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament. Since Round 3 begins tonight, I thought I should quickly update this information before those games begin.
After two rounds, I am still in the lead with a score of 182. In second place is Ron Bean with 163, followed closely by Brian Morris (160), Sam Knisely (159) and Andy Rupert (155).
Both Mr. Bean and Mr. Knisely have nailed all but one game in the South Bracket (both incorrectly chose Tennessee to lose to Virginia).
Out of those named above, everyone except for me and Andy Rupert still have all of their Final Four teams remaining. I think I need the University of Southern California (USC) to do well and at least upset the University of North Carolina (UNC) in this round if I want to keep my lead. It would not hurt if Florida went down in this round, either.
Anyway, that is my meaningless March Madness update.
Just my thoughts,
On Sunday night, we continued our week of Special Meetings at Fellowship Baptist Church with Evangelist Ron DeGarde.
For Sunday night’s message, Brother Ron preached a good message on Revelation 2:1-7 on "A Person who Deserts Deity."
In his introduction, Brother DeGarde dealt with some of the details of the 1995 case of Aldridge Ames’ Treason against the United States and the selling of information about a number of
U.S. agents to the U.S.S.R.
He then dealt with three truths about deserters.
I. The Deserter’s Description
A. His Camouflage shows one thing
B. His Character shows another thing - Idolatry
1. Robs God of time
2. Robs God of tithe
3. Robs God of talents
4. Robs God of temple
II. The Deserter’s Danger
The deserter’s danger is that God will remove His power.
God has not lost His power, but we have.
III. The Deserter’s Deliverance
A. Remember - deal specifically with your sin
B. Repent - have a change of mind
C. Repeat - do the first works
For a closing illustration, he used the account of the patriot Nathan Hale who faced death and said, "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country." Rather than be a deserter, his stood firm and his life counted.
It was a very well done message and I appreciate the ministry that God has provided through Ron's ministry this week, despite Ron's difficulties with his foot.
Just his (and my) thoughts,
On Sunday morning, Evangelist Ron DeGarde took time to remind the folks how we could have a successful series of meetings:
1. We need to be INTERCEDING - praying that God would do a work this
2. We need to be INVOLVED - being faithful to all of the services.
3. We need to be INVITING - encouraging others to come out to the
4. We need to be INVESTIGATING - examining our lives in light of
For the Sunday Morning Message, Brother DeGarde focused on The Power of Sin from Hebrews 3:13.
Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any
of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
It was interesting how closely a lot of what he said meshed with what I preached on last week when I dealt with the need of God’s people to turn from their wicked ways.
I. The Subtlety of Sin’s Power
A. Sin has the power to Deceive
Romans 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and
by it slew me.
Isaiah 44:20 He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?
1. It will deceive you about its pleasure
Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God,
than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
2. It will deceive about its penalty
B. Sin has the Power to Destroy
1. Sin puts men in misery
2. Sin puts men in Hell
II. The Shattering of Sin’s Power
Christ became our Propitiation - Our Substitute that Satisfies
1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Just his thoughts,
I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted give some reports on the Special Meetings with Ron DeGarde that we are having this week at Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury.
For Sunday School, Evangelist Ron DeGarde started off our week by dealing with a familiar passage - 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
This is one of my favorite passages of all of Scripture. In fact, when I taught Bible at Gloucester County Christian School in Pitman, New Jersey for four years and when I taught at Heritage Christian Academy in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey for the four years before that, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 were usually the theme verses for the class.
Brother Ron DeGarde gave us three reasons why there is Incredible Wealth in God’s Word.
I. The Word of God has incredible wealth because it has Incredible Power
The Holy Scripture is able to make you wise unto salvation.
Able is the Greek work "dunamai" - from which we get our word
God Word is powerful in that it is able to save - even in the context of
the last days.
Brother DeGarde connected the "that" in v. 15 with the "this know also" in
v. 1, so that the idea is:
This know also
That - in the last days perilous times will come (v.1)
That - the Holy
Scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation (v. 15)
I have never
seen that connection before and hope to look more into it when I get a good
None of my quickly available commentaries (read: those in E-Sword and
PowerBible) mention anything about the "that", so further study is needed when
Making that connection, Ron points out that even in the midst of the
wickedness that Paul describes as he explains the last days, God’s Word is still
able to make you wise unto salvation.
He then used an illustration about George Mensak (sp.?) who was a member of
Al Capone’s gang who got saved at Marquette Manor Baptist Church in Chicago,
II. The Word of God has incredible wealth because it has an Incredible Profit
The Bible is not a menu from which to make a selection, but a mandate tow
which we must submit.
A. It is profitable for doctrine
B. It is profitable for reproof
C. It is profitable for correction
D. It is profitable for instruction in righteousness
III. The Word of God has incredible wealth because it has a Wonderful Purpose
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished - completely
Evangelist DeGarde did a good job of setting the table for the week in Sunday School.
Over the last four weeks, I have spoken regarding 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 - the first week with an overview of what God wants from his people and the nature of revival. While I explained that we were not Israel and this was not a pattern that we could use to manipulate God, the passage does show some traits that God wants to be evident in His people - a humbling of ourselves, praying and seeking God’s face, and a turning from our wicked ways - and that God has expressed blessing to His people in response to this.
Anyway, I think that things have gotten off to a good start.
Just my thoughts - okay, they are mostly Ron’s thoughts :)
As I mentioned in a previous post, the church where I serve as Pastor - Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury - is hosting Evangelist Ron DeGarde and his family this week for a week of special meetings.
I try to be careful in using my terminology, so I do not call these meetings "Revival Meetings" as revival is a moving of God that cannot be scheduled and does not come just because you bring in an evangelist with his truck and trailer.
Anyway, we started off our meetings on Sunday with a Community Awareness Day. This day was originally planned as a test for a modified version of the "Phones For You" program, but due to some miscommunication the majority of the planned phone calling did not occur. I am still hoping to use the "Phones For You" concept, but there are some things I need to work out before we will be ready to try it again.
We did have a good turn-out, as almost all of our regular attenders were there and a few guests came as well. As was my practice when this blog was still in its infancy and we hosted Evangelist Mark Kittrell for Special Meetings back in October of 2005, the blogging for me this week on A Thinking Man’s Thoughts will consist of reports of the meetings and messages from this week of Special Meetings. Feel free to comment and ask questions on the reports and messages as well as on any other previous post, but be aware that other than the quick March Madness scoring update, the rest of the posts for this week will likely be concerning the Special Meetings at Fellowship Baptist Church.
Evangelist DeGarde hurt his ankle pretty badly last week playing basketball in North Carolina. He is supposed to be having an MRI on his ankle on Wednesday. Due to the injury, he is needing to be seated while preaching. I can imagine that if Ron is like me - or like most evangelists I know - this must be pretty difficult. He is doing a good job in a tough situation, though. I wonder if this is what it was like in Pastor Jesse Boyd’s latter days at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina.
Rather than start off with a report of a message this far into the post, I will use this post to link to all the posts in one spot and update this post as I update the reports.
Sunday School Message - The Incredible Wealth of God’s Word - 2 Timothy 3:15-17
Sunday Morning Message - The Power of Sin - Hebrews 3:13
Sunday Evening Message - A Person Who Deserts Deity - Revelation 2:1-7
Rond one of the 2007 NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament is in the books. (Is it really not allowed to use the term "March Madness" anymore?")
It seemed to me that the first round went a little tamer than normal. Both of my favorite teams took a first-round dive - in games that they could have won. Illinois had the lead against Virginia Tech and then couldn't even move the ball the last few minutes of the game. Arizona seemed like they gave up a little too early against Purdue.
After one round of the 2007 Thinking Man's Tourney Time, the leader in the clubhouse (to mix sports) is . . . Frank Sansone (2) with a score of 125 points. Ron Bean (who was influential in a young Greg Linscott's life and currently serves at a church formerly pastored by my former pastor's father-in-law) is at 124 points - one point behind me, but having gotten two more games correct than I did.
Brother Bean, as well as Sam Knisely, both got every game right in the South bracket.
So far, the only ones that have lost any of their final four teams is Scott Bothwell (who needed a strong showing from Creighton and Arizona and did not get it) and my heart picks (I had indicated that you could do two sets - one from the head and one from the heart - and my heart picks had Arizona winning it all).
So, after one round the top five standings are:
Frank Sansone (head) 125 points
Ron Bean 124 points
Brian Morris 116 points
Frank Sansone (heart) 112 points
Andy Rupert 108 points
My prediction - Brother Bean wins it all.
Brian, you are doing a good job. Introduce yourself if you get a chance.
Just my thoughts,
2007 National Leadership Conference Workshop Report and Comments - When A Small Church Becomes a Bigger Church (Part 1)Monday, March 12, 2007
2007 National Leadership Conference Workshop Report - When A Small Church Becomes a Bigger Church #1 by Pastor Greg Wahlberg
As most of you are aware, I have gradually been making reports, evaluations and comments on the 2007 National Leadership Conference held by Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania in February. To find the other reports so far, you should be able to hit the "conferences" label at the end of this post. (This is part of the "new" blogger and I have not done much with the labels, yet. I probably need to clear up my template and add labels on the sides instead of my make-shift labels that I did previously.
The first workshop I attended this year at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary’s National Leadership Conference was a workshop by Pastor Greg Wahlberg of Calvary Baptist Church in York, Pennsylvania. I am writing this as a report and then at the bottom will be some of my thoughts, comments, and suggestions regarding the material presented.
Pastor Wahlberg’s encouraged us that if you are going to help your church go through the transitions that come as a smaller church becomes a bigger church you need to have two things:
I. You Need a Proper Perspective
II. You Need a Personal Plan
Regarding the Proper Perspective, he dealt with the Lord’s promise to build the church and laid down some agreed upon theological groundwork - that God is the one who builds the church and we must be content to let God do what He is going to do while we do what God requires us to do.
Pastor Wahlberg discussed three "essentials for any successful ministry" - God’s Power, God’s Protection and God’s Peace.
God’s Power is needed because "except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." (Psalm 127:1). This same truth is indicated in John 15:5 and 1 Corinthians 3:6-7. The best farmer cannot make a seed grow! He can do much to prepare, to water, to weed, to nourish, etc., but the growing is of God. The same is true regarding the growing of a church.
God’s Protection is needed because the watchman can stand guard all night, but the city is not safe unless the Lord "keep" (guard) the city. Because the church is a voluntary organization, there is no (I would say "very little") obligation to keep coming except the Spirit of God’s leading. "We are dependent upon the hedge that the Lord places around His work and His people."
God’s Peace is needed because the work is never done. Pastors need to be careful that the we do not allow the legitimate care of the church to become anxious care, which is sinful. We need to be able to rest in the work that God has given us, not thinking that we have to individually win the whole world for Christ.
Pastor Wahlberg commented "God often adds or subtracts form his church in ways that are different from our own choosing... Be content with the people God brings to you to minister to." Later, he quoted some advice a layman gave him when he started in the ministry, "A pastor needs to concentrate more on the full pews rather than on the empty ones."
Pastor Wahlberg also commented in this section that "unless a pastor learns how to deal with disappointment, he will not survive very long in ministry."
In regards to Pastor Wahlberg’s second major point - You Need A Personal Plan - he dealt with three stages of a church as it moves from a small church to a larger church.
When a church is new and small, it has what Pastor Wahlberg refers to as a Family Atmosphere. At this stage, the church is a lot like an extended family (in some churches this is almost literal!). People who come to a church in this stage generally do so because they have often have family or friends in the congregation. If they don’t make friendship ties with someone in the congregation quickly, they will generally move on pretty quickly. As a church grows from this stage, it will test the people’s desire and determination to reach other people. The new people who are coming require extra attention from the pastor and others in the church and some may begin to feel envy or jealousy.
When a church reaches between 50 to 150 people, there will often emerge two or more "families" or "cells" in the congregation. Pastor Wahlberg refers to churches at this size as having a Pastoral Focus. In this stage, the church is generally still to small to hire a "full-time paid assistant" and the people and the pastor expect the pastor to be involved in just about everything. When their is a new visitor, the pastor is expected to call upon that visitor (both the visitor and the congregation expect this). When there is someone in the hospital, the pastor is expected to take care of this. New visitors will often "bond" with the pastor first and the people may find that the pastor is spending less and less time with those who are already "in" the church.
The key to progressing through this step of ministry is to develop lay leadership. We should be doing this anyway - Ephesians 4:12, etc. To move through this stage of ministry, we should develop some leadership training materials (or find some we can use) and be serious about training the leaders.
The third stage that Pastor Wahlberg dealt with was what he termed as having a Ministry Focus. This is essential in churches where the attendance reaches 150-400. In a church this size, the Pastor cannot adequately attend to all the people or the programs going on. More work must be delegated. Assistants are often added to oversee some of the ministry (depending upon what skills different lay people possess and use in ministry). To maintain a church of this size requires the Pastor to spend more time training, supervising, administering, and coordinating the work of others. His gifts of organization and leadership, as well as his ability to delegate are put to the test at this stage.
A caution at this stage is that the "old timers" may become discouraged about how little time comparatively the Pastor now has to spend with them. The Pastor at this stage will not be doing all of the visiting of the new visitors, the shut-ins, hospital visits every day, etc.
New members at this stage are often attracted to various parts of the church (youth group, a Sunday School class, small group, choir, etc.) rather than to the church as a whole, because the size of the church seems so large and impersonal.
An organized and planned method in dealing with visitors and new members is crucial so that the they do not get lost in a church this size. People in the church must be encouraged to make friends with new families in the first few months if they are to stay.
Pastor Wahlberg’s church has developed a "Ministry Manual" that lists and describes the different areas of service and ministry in their church. This allows people to see what areas are available for them to minister in. This manual shows what opportunities are available, what kind of requirements and time commitments are expected, who they see for training and who oversees the particular ministry.
Pastor Wahlberg also commented that "I have had to grow in my leadership skills and abilities as our church has grown."
Other than the fact that this session was in the main auditorium with no mic and a little difficult to hear, there is definitely some useful things in this session.
Even though we are still a small church, there are some things that I could identify with in this presentation (perhaps that is because I have been on staff in all three sizes he covers).
His comment about the fact that the Lord often adds to subtracts from his church in ways that are different from our own choosing is something that I have already in seen in my brief two years here. There are times when there is someone that, humanly speaking, you think, "It would be GREAT if that person kept coming or started coming," yet they only come for a visit or they have other plans - or they don’t make the move to the area and move to somewhere else instead (for instance, we had a family think about moving down to the area that I have known for years - he was a deacon at one of my former churches and the whole family would have been a great asset in a number of ways down here, but they moved to New York instead). God knows exactly who He wants here and He is in control and sometimes the family that God moves on may not have been a good fit and the family that God brings in may be the family that really needs the church at this time.
I also understand how easy it is to get caught up in being concerned about who is missing each week. Now, I believe there is an appropriate concern there (after all, it is hard to "watch for their souls" when they are not there and it is our responsibility to know why they are not there and see if there is a need that we can help meet, etc.), but it is also easy to get into a mode of frustration or disappointment when people are gone - and to do so in such a way that it becomes a detriment to the church. I remember hearing of a Pastor who was always harping on faithfulness (admittedly, a needed topic), but he did so on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, etc. In other words, he was preaching on faithfulness to the crowd that was already faithful!
I like the emphasis on training the lay leaders - although I believe this should be at least a desire from the start. I also note that there was not a lot said here about "how to" do this. One thing I am finding is that people’s schedules are so busy that it difficult to schedule much that would be a help in this area. I have been thinking and praying about ways to implement more of this in our church, but I don’t have any brilliant ideas, yet. (I am open to suggestions of what your church does or what you would like them to do or what you have seen elsewhere in this area.) The reality is that men (and women) in our congregations often lead a number of people in their secular work environments and we should not act like they need to be coddled to take care of something in the church. Now, there is obviously a need for some spiritual discernment and development - especially depending upon the task, but I firmly believe that God’s people have all the ability to do what God wants done in and through His church as Christ works in and through them.
I never thought about the differences about what attracts people and holds people to a church like Pastor Wahlberg mentions. It makes sense to me, though, and it gives me some ideas of things I need to encourage as we seek to reach out as a church. While we are still in the "family atmosphere" stage, there is still a big part of the "pastoral focus" stage that is taking place as well. Our church right now is a very friendly church, but I wander if there needs to be more of a purposefulness about this at this stage or if we are still okay with the natural friendliness and warmth. I have often thought of people being attracted by the "parts" of the church, but as he indicated, at this small stage it is still the overall ministry that attracts. The "parts" are mere complementing elements at this point, not a selling point in and of themselves.
I also thought the comment about hiring staff depending upon what skills and ministries of lay people in the church was interesting. I have often heard Pastors comment that Position X should be the first position you add when you reach the point of bringing on a second man. However, this seems to fail to take into account the abilities of godly laymen already in your church. I like the way that Pastor Wahlberg mentions considering the skills already present in a ministry as part of the hiring process (even though it was really just written in passing).
I also thought his comment about needed to grow in his leadership skills and abilities as the church grows. One of the concerns I had as I was seeking God’s will for a ministry a few years ago was that I wanted to be where God put me, but I also thought that this would most likely be a smaller church to start. I recognize that some people are thrust into larger ministries while they are young, but, while I was open to that possibility, I was a little wary of that as well. I think there is wisdom in the way that God helps us along as parents - we get to start off with babies, instead of teenagers! As those babies grow, our parenting abilities should also grow so that we have developed a relationship and some wisdom when it comes time to deal with the more difficult stages of life. I think the same tends to be true in regards to pastors and churches. Many of the men that I consider the best pastors who pastor larger fundamental churches were actually in those same churches when they were not so large and grew in the leadership abilities as the church grew in size.
Some practical advice to take away from this presentation:
Think about why people come to your church and why they stay or don’t stay
Minister to those you have instead of moaning over those you don’t have.
Develop a training plan for lay leadership if you don’t already have one
Think through the ministries of your church and develop a ministry manual
Just some thoughts,
One of the interesting things that I like to do in regards to blogging is to see how people find my site. In my case, most people either come here directly, through a service such as bloglines or through a google search for some word, person or expression that I have mentioned in a post. I also get some that come here from a link on someone else’s blog or a link from my signature or a post I have made on SI.
Tom Mount, Jr. of Mounty’s Corner used to do a thing in which he would monthly review and comment on search terms that led people to find his sight, although I have not seen him do a post on this for awhile now.
Sometimes the search terms that lead people to my site are kind of interesting. While I still get a significant number of hits from people who are looking for information regarding Pastor Jim Schettler and Pensecola Christian College (for those of you who stumble upon this post looking for that information - see this post regarding Dr. Schettler’s whereabouts). I imagine that these hits will slow down now that Pastor Schettler’s new church has its own web-site.
I did have some search engine hits recently that I thought were interesting lately (but this could just be me.)
Someone recently found my site by searching for "ugly Joel Tetreau". As far as I can find, I never called Joel ugly, but apparently someone has some different thoughts on the matter.
I also had someone looking for "actor Don Johnson now a Baptist pastor." I hope the person was able to find Baptist Pastor Don Johnson’s site over at http://ebaptist.blogspot.com, but I imagine they may have been disappointed if they were looking for him to be the same guy who starred in Miami Vice back in the 1980s.
Recently, someone found me looking for "Billy Graham’s view on The Lost Tomb of Jesus." I would guess that this is the first time someone considered me a spokesman for Billy Graham. I wonder if I get paid consulting fees?
What has been the strangest search that you have noticed make it to your blog?
Just my curious thoughts,
It is that time of year again. That time of the year when the chirping of athletic shoes becomes a roar. That time of the year when coach's sons from Little Podunk U become household names. When 19-year old kids throw a leather ball in the air hoping that it may indeed be "one shining moment."
The NCAA Basketball Tournament is upon us. Later today the selections will be announced and shouts will be made and tears will be shed. Starting this week, the greatest spectacle in college sports - yea, the greatest three weeks in all of sports - will be upon us.
It has been a tradition of mine for years to do a March Madness contest with those around me. When I was a teacher and a youth pastor, this often took the format of having the students fill in brackets and keeping track of those brackets by various scoring rules.
In the online world, last year I tried for the first year to get a little MM contest running, but I had a smaller readership and I started too late to get much action.
Last year's human winner was Andy Rupert of Isle Kerguellen. (Although I think that a coin flip brackett actually beat us all if I remember correctly.)
Anyway, if you would like to participate this year, you may do so by following this link - http://athinkingmansthoughts.mayhem.sportsline.com/e . If you already have a CBS Sportsline user id and password, use that and then it will ask your for the group password (which is "tourney"). If you do not already have a CBS Sporsline user id, you will need to create one to join. (I usually use my "junk mail" email account for anything like this that I sign up for online). After you are registered, it will ask you for the group password - enter "tourney."
This is (of course) a free game just for fun. The registration is also free. The scoring system is that the weight of each round increases per round and that a bonus of the seed to each winner is added to the weight to get a pick's score (thus a victory by a 12 seed in the second round is worth 14 - 2 for the round plus 12 points for the seed).
I would love to have you join us.
Just my thoughts,
Sunday School - 10:00 a.m.
Morning Worship - 11:00 a.m.
Evening Service - 6:00 p.m.
Monday - Thursday Evenings - 7:00 p.m. each night
If you do not live in the area, pray that God would use these meetings for His glory.
For more information, see this page: Ron DeGarde Meetings
For those who have been waiting on pins and needles (yea, right) for me to return to my reports on the National Leadership Conference at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, I beg your pardon for the delay.
Awards and Evaluation
Best General Session Presentation:
Our Unique Gospel by Dr. Dave Doran of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary for
Thursday morning’s general session. (I discuss this presentation in this
Best Workshop Presentation:
Mentoring the Next Generation of Leaders by Pastor Andy Counterman of Anchor
Baptist Church of Millersville, Maryland. This selection probably also reveals a
little of my bias due to my burden for this particular topic.
Workshops I Most Wish I Had Attended:
Academic - Varieties of Interpretation in Dispensational Theology by Dr. Dave
Burgraff and Very God of Very God by Dr. Kevin Bauder
Practical - When a Small Church Becomes a Bigger Church by Pastor Wayne Burgraff
Most Pleasant Surprise of a Workshop:
Strategic Planning for Dummies by Ron Clark. It started off a little
slow, but the session was actually pretty good with some helpful things for this
Most Humorous Moment:
During the Panel Discussion on Friday, Dr. Bauder was making a point about how
the Bible is sufficient for all that we need, but not necessarily all that we
want. In doing so, he gave an illustration about falling from an airplane and
having the parachutes fail. The Bible is sufficient in answering the questions
about "how should I face death?", etc., but it is not designed to answer how to
survive a fall from an airplane. At that time, Dr. Doran opened up his Bible
over his head as if he was using it as a parachute. Maybe you had to be there,
but it was pretty funny.
Most Humorous Moment 2:
Dr. Bauder’s comment about not having the privilege of pastoring a large church like Calvary where he could put so many people to sleep all at once
Most Humorous Private Moment:
The Hardingville crew and Pastor Matt Jury and I ending up eating at a dainty ladies diner on Wednesday after the restaurant Matt was taking us to ended up being closed. The ladies who ran the diner scrambled for tables and we ended up eating things that were fit for a rabbit. Pastor Franklin and I both had ordered an open-faced turkey sandwich and Pastor Franklin commented that I had the other half of his sandwich.
Evaluation and General Comments:
I think that Dr. Harbin did a good job in keeping the National Leadership Conference a profitable conference.
On the positive side:
- I appreciated the fact that the notebook included almost all of the notes from all the worksop sessions again.
- I liked the Panel Discussion on Friday.
- I liked the idea of having the small group discussions, although this could
use a little adjustment. Perhaps having some starter questions written out or
something along those lines would help.
- I liked the overall mix of academic and practical. This year I tended to
gravitate towards the more practical, but other years I have enjoyed the more
- I liked the refreshments being available in the display area after the
Wednesday and Thursday night services.
On the "needs improvement" side:
- There were not as many workshop sessions this year as in previous years. Last year, for example, both Wednesday and Thursday there were four workshop sessions each. This year, there were only four workshop sessions total.
- Using the main sanctuary for workshops sessions without a microphone did not work well. It was difficult to hear in that room due to the lack of amplification in connection with all of the other activities going on around. This actually contributed to me choosing not to attend Wayne Burgraff’s workshop When a Small Church Becomes a Bigger Church.
- I was a little disappointed that a number of songs that we were encouraged to sing congregationally would be considered "on the edge" or "borderline" for many of us. Even if that is where you are as a church, I still think in a mixed multitude such as shows up at a conference like this, it would be more appropriate to sing the good old hymns that will not bother anyone - especially for congregational singing since you are asking those attending to participate in this activity.
- I still have hesitation about celebrating the Lord’s Table in a setting like this.
In addition to the actual help from the conference itself, I enjoyed spending some time with Pastor Matt Jury and his aunt and uncle during the week. I also enjoyed seeing folks that I do not get to see very often - although I was surprised that the place seemed void of most of the bloggers that were there last year (no Greg Linscott, Jason Janz, Bob Bixby, Tom Pryde, Joel Tetreau, etc.).
As the week progresses, I plan on posting on the individual workshops.
Just my thoughts,
Part of me hesitates to even discuss this topic further since the media firestorm preceeding the documentary has quieted due to the extremely speculative nature of the production.
One commentator wrote:
Do you remember when Geraldo Rivera did a live broadcast in the 80s at the site of Al Capone's vault and when the wrecking balls broke through, there was nothing inside the vault? Well, 'The Lost Tomb Of Jesus' was sort of like that, only less credible.
In my recent post on The Lost Tomb of Jesus in which I discuss some of the factual and logical difficulties with this over-hyped "documentary" by James Cameron, I received a comment from a visitor named Steve that I think is worth addressing in a regular post rather than just in the comments section.
Since it is sometimes difficult with the new blogger to be able to read the comments of others, I will reprint his comments in this post as I address the issue that he has raised. So here are his comments and then some of my comments to his comments.
I appreciate Steve stopping by and asking his question. I think it is a good question, yet I also think that there is an underlying premise in this question that needs to be addressed.
One of my favorite verses of scripture is the "we see as through glass darkly". If we consider that verse to contain wisdom, then cant we consider the factual narrative of Jesus in the bible to be the best we could put into language given that dark glass barrier prevents a more thorough understanding?
Im not suggesting that the story of Jesus doesnt represent the divine message from God. Im actually suggesting that maybe the divine reality is too far over our heads to attempt to understand with mere human language and ability to conceptualise.
Theres a saying that the best things cant be told. And the second best are too often misunderstood. So its the third best things that we talk about.
If we somehow found empirical evidence that Jesus in fact did not rise from the grave, i dont believe it would make the story any less important as far as revealing transcended divinity to those of us still on this side of the glass.
Steve starts his post by referring to a verse that speaks of seeing through a glass darkly. The verse which he is referencing is 1 Corinthians 13:12, which reads, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
I understand and agree with the first part of Steve’s point - namely, that there are a number of things about which are understanding is limited, especially a number of things in the spiritual realm. I also rejoice in the truth in the last part of that verse, that there will come a time when I shall "know even as also I am known."
So, while I agree with this truth, I will have to disagree with the conclusion that Steve seems to draw from this point:
If we somehow found empirical evidence that Jesus in fact did not rise from the grave, i dont believe it would make the story any less important as far as revealing transcended divinity to those of us still on this side of the glass
For while it is true that there are many things that we cannot understand, there is a difference between not being able to understand the details of something and being misled about the thing itself. While there may be some things about the details of the resurrection of which we have limited understanding and can only see darkly, the fact of the resurrection is not one of those things. The Apostle Paul tells us that this truth is a critical truth.
Paul tells us plainly in 1 Corinthians 15, that "if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (v. 14). He goes on to say that this would make the Apostles and other who claim to have witnessed the resurrection would then be false witness and that "if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins."
In Luke 24, after Jesus rose from the grave, He told His disciples to touch Him so that they would understand that He had risen bodily. Lu 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
At the start of the Fundamentalist - Modernist Controversy near the beginning of the 20th Century, many times the liberal theologians (called "modernists" in those days) would state that they were attempting to "rescue" Jesus from the Scripture. In their attempts to do so, they would deny the clear truth of God’s Word and come up with alternate explanations. In reality they were not "rescuing" Christ, they were denying Christ. It is through the Scripture that we know Christ - not apart from the Scripture. Therefore, the reliability of the Bible is essential to our faith - and this is especially evident in a case such as the resurrection. If Christ be not raised from the dead, then we are left with a dead Savior, a dishonest book inconsistent with a God of truth, and no hope for a future resurrection. To me, this is important.
Now, thankfully, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most well-attested to events in ancient history. Books upon books have been written on this topic over the years. The disciples went from scared and scattered to bold and courageous. There were multitudes of eyewitness - including over 400 at one time. Paul’s life was transformed when he saw the resurrected Jesus. The enemies of Christ had their mouths stopped by truth of the resurrection.
I do not have the time to get into all of the details, but suffice it to say, it should take much more than a flashy Hollywood documentary to shake the faith of any Christian who understands what the Bible teaches about this central doctrine.
Some further resources on the Resurrection are listed below.
Just my thoughts,
A couple of articles that can be accessed via the internet:
Is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ true?
Why should I believe in Christ’s resurrection?
Many of you have seen media coverage regarding a new documentary being broadcast on the Discovery Chanel called The Lost Tomb of Jesus and directed by James Cameron (of Titanic and Terminator fame). This "discovery" (which was actually made over 20 years ago and is primarily based on a book entitled, The Jesus Family Tomb) is one more in a line of attacks by those who seek to attempt to undermine the credibility of God’s Word, but in the process reveal their own ignorance. The Bible tells us that Jesus arose from the grave on the third day, that he was seen of many witnesses (including over 500 at one time) and that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
The information that is being put out by Mr. Cameron and others reveal their own ignorance and bias. This is the tomb of a wealthy family - Jesus had not where to lay his head. The supposed "DNA Evidence" is simply that the two bodies they claim are from Jesus and Mary Magdalene are not related and that therefore they must have been married. There is not DNA Evidence that could substantiate in any way that this body is the body of Christ - they would need to have some undisputed DNA from Jesus that they could use to compare with the DNA in the ossuary.
The tomb is from a well-off family, yet the Bible tells us that the Jesus had not a place to lay his head. The supposed family tomb is located in Jerusalem when Jesus’ family was from Nazareth or Bethlehem (depending upon whether you are going where his ancestry was from or where he grew up). The "documentary" fails to understand enough about the subject that they claim to be documenting - namely, the truth about Jesus Christ as presented in the most reliable of documents - those New Testament documents that were written by eye-witnesses of the events about which they wrote.
In addition to all of the problems with the "documentary," think about this for a moment: If the body of Jesus was indeed in a marked tomb like this, it would be very hard to explain the growth of Christianity. The enemies of the Gospel during the era of the spread of the church would have surely produced the body. The believers whose lives were changed because they saw the resurrected Christ would not have experienced that change. The leaders of the early church would not have submitted to all of the torture and cruel forms of death that they experienced for what they knew to be a lie.
Just my thoughts,
P.S. For some further information about this, see the following resources (as always, inclusion of a link does not mean that I agree with everything that is said in the link or with the group/person who is being linked to or anything else on their blog :) ):
Archeological Identity Theft: The Lost Tomb of Jesus Fails to Make the Grade
The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Response to the Discovery-Channel Documentary Directed by James Camaron
Hollywood Hype: The Oscars and Jesus' Family Tomb, What Do They Share?
The Jesus Tomb? 'Titanic' Talpiot Tomb Sunk From The Start
For those of you looking for more reviews and comments regarding Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary's 2007 National Leadership Conference, I plan on resuming with a summary post early in the week (probably Monday) and then begin to discuss some of the specific workshops.
In the meantime, I thought that this headline was the funniest I have seen in awhile.
Swiss Troops Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein
You've got to hate it when that happens :).
Just my thoughts,
Over at The World from Our Windown, blogger Ken Fields has asked an interesting question: "Should I Continue to Embrace the Fundamentalist Label?"
Similar comments have been made for various reasons over the years. Even Dr. Bob Jones, III asked the question about the term in one of his columns in a BJU Review a few years ago.
However, Ken's comments are not geared so much in regards to the term as it is in regards to the Fundamentalist movement. (For some of my previous comments along these lines, see my article, "The Best and the Brightest: The Idea of Fundamentalism and the Movement of Fundamentalism.")
I have chosen to respond here to his post, rather than just in the comments section of his blog for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I have found that sometimes long comments get lost in the comment sections of blogs and I did not want to spend time on this only for it to disappear. A second reason, however, is that I don't believe that Ken is the only one with these thoughts and I thought I would attempt to address at least the main points of his thoughts here.
I would also like to clarify that I have nothing against Ken and this is not meant to be an attack upon Ken. I do not know Ken except through his blog. He seems to be a smart guy with a desire to please Christ and he is a much better writer than me.
Ken comments that he has been thinking about this for several months, and has decided to "articulate my concerns over the tendencies of those who embrace the Fundamentalist term."
Ken has every right to take whatever label he feels like he should take and I am not arguing that he should keep the label. In fact, I would encourage him and others who do not like the label to abandon the label, but that is a completely different issue. I think there are entirely too many people who claim the Fundamentalist label but don’t hold to its principles (on both sides of the label). I am not saying that Ken necessarily fits into this description, since I know little about Ken other than reading his blog occasionally. I do not have time to address everything in his post. I would, however, like to briefly address some of his reasons that he gives for asking that question.
The first reason Ken gives is that the label (and movement) is unpredictably liquid.
Ken states it this way:
From the lengthy treatise that commenced the movement ('The Fundamentals'), to prohibitionism, to dispensationalism (which many of the original 'fundamentalists' were not), to KJV-onlyism, to the de-pantsing of women, to the nixing of mixed bathing, to third and fourth degree separation ... fundamentalism seems to change with the latest cultural and ecclesiastical fads and tides, as does its very definition.
A little later, he adds:
It is a sad fact that many who embrace the term cannot agree on an accepted definition. Some describe themselves as fundamentalists simply because they ascribe to the five aforementioned statements. Others find it necessary to add a separation clause. Still others claim secondary separation (others even go further) is a must for any and all who embrace the fundamentalist label.
I will agree with Ken that it is often frustrating that there is no standard definition of fundamentalist that all will agree upon. Part of that is the problem of those who intentionally choose to hijack the term and part of that stems from those who would use the term out of ignorance.
The reality is that there is no "fundamentalist pope" to be able to lay down the law regarding the definition of the term. While this may lead to frustration (I know I have often been frustrated with needing to clarify that I do not identify "that person" or "that group of people" as Fundamentalists - or that I am not "that kind" of Fundamentalist).
However, the nature of language and labels is such that there is no authoritative language police that can dictate a terms meaning - as much as we may wish that were the case in some areas.
However, to abandon the label "Fundamentalist" because it is "to liquid" leaves us with a question about other labels as well. If this is a valid reason to ditch the label, can not the same argument be made regarding the term "Christian"? Surely there are a multitude who use the term "Christian" to describe themselves who would not come close to matching an accurate reflection of what the Bible says is true of a Christian. The same thing could be said of many other terms, such as "Evangelical" and even "Reformed".
The second reason that Ken gives is that the term seems to be characterized by an elitist attitude.
Ken’s comments here include the following:
Too often fundamentalists have elevated secondary doctrines to the level of primary doctrines. Do we separate from those who practice paedo-baptism? Do weI actually agree with part of what Ken is saying here. There is definitely an aspect of any type of separation that comes across as elitism. After all, if we refuse to have fellowship with someone, we are generally saying that we believe that they are wrong in the particular area of doctrine or practice that has led to this separation. Many would say that being a Christian who believes that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to heaven is elitist - in fact, this is so true that many supposed spokesmen have compromised the truth on this very question when faced with it in public venues such as Larry King Live (see the LKL interviews of Billy Graham and Joel Osteen in the last couple of years).
break fellowship with those who may be of differing eschatological persuasion?
Should I invite a trichotomist to preach in our church, or how about one who
believes in three dispensations rather than seven? And what if he supports the
Gideons or Samaritan's Purse? Why are present day Fundamentalists not able to
differentiate between primary and secondary doctrines and practices? An
unwillingness to do so emits an aroma of superiority. It smacks of elitism. It
needlessly ostracizes. It divides the body of Christ.
It is interesting to me that this same charge of elitism is one that I have often heard that same argument used (wrongly, imo) against the very Reformed doctrines that Ken holds to so dearly. (Again, for clarity sake, I am not criticizing him for holding to these doctrines.)
Traditionally, there has been latitude in Fundamentalism regarding eschatology, mode of baptism, church government, and many other issues. Existence of such groups as the American Council of Christian Churches show that these are not areas where the disagreements exclude one from being a Fundamentalist.
It is ironic to me, however, that Ken speaks about a failure to differentiate between primary and secondary doctrines and practices when he seems to have a similar fail to understand the difference between different levels of fellowship. I will grant him that there are some who do focus on the secondary issues (the IFBx groups seem to be particularly skillful at this), but judging by some of Ken’s other posts, part of the problem he has is that more narrow groups of fellowships (such as a fellowship of churches) will not allow the same latitude in their membership that is permitted in broader Fundamentalism. I think Greg Linscott has done a good job at trying to point out this issue in some of his comments to Ken in various posts, but it does not seem to me that Ken "gets" what Greg is trying to say. Perhaps what I am reading as a failure to understand Greg's point is merely a disagreement with Greg's point.
If a church or a group of churches chooses to join together, they often do so because they have similar doctrinal, theological, denominational or philosophical views. For instance, Ken is attending the upcoming Founders Conference. If Ken chooses to be a part of this movement and have his church listed on their website, he must click a button declaring that he wholeheartedly subscribes to some particular confessions that are listed on their website. The nature of the fellowship would not only make it acceptable to refuse fellowship with Ken in that level if he did not agree with those confessions (say Ken was a thorough-going Arminian instead), but would actually make it necessary for them to refuse Ken fellowship at the level of being listed on their website. This does not mean that the group would be declaring Ken as unsaved, but rather would be acknowledging that on this particular level of fellowship they do not walk together.
It seems to me that some of the frustration that Ken speaks against often stems from the fact that a particular group that have joined together for fellowship is not as broad as Ken would like in some areas (see his recent post on Edwards, etc.). In my view, a fellowship has the right to set their own guidelines for inclusion and a person (or church) has the right to reject that fellowship if they disagree with those guidelines.
The third reason that Ken gives for possibly abandoning the label is that the label and movement seem to be characterized by an unhealthy reactionism.
Ken states this:
Does it not seem ironic that fundamentalists are known (and this is a reputation they have brought upon themselves) for what they are against rather than what they are for? The clarion call of the original fundamentalists was an affirmation of five clear and concise theological statements.
The reality is that Fundamentalism has always been a reactionary movement. Even in Ken’s own article he makes a couple of comments that indicate this in regards to the early Fundamentalists.
For instance, he states:
It is my understanding that the fundamentalist movement began in response to the modernist's higher criticism (emphasis added)
He also quotes from Wikipedia (an interesting source that is in need of some revision in regards to its article on Fundamentalism).
A movement in American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism and that stresses the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record, holding as essential to Christian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming.
Notice the words that I have highlighted in both of those quotes. Fundamentalism has always been reactionary - and that is okay - and that is also why there has been a legitimate shift in some areas over the years. As new problems arose and new departures from the faith take place, there is a need for a reaction against those departures.
When Ken speaks of "current fundamentalist infatuations," I take exception to both the terminology and the list that he uses to qualify the terminology. While I may actually be fairly close to him on some of those issues, I object to his list and terminology here for a few reasons.
1. I don’t think it is fair to describe them a "current fundamentalist infatuations." Most of these issues are much broader than Fundamentalism. Think about it - the "big debate" that never came was not between Fundamentalists. The King James Version Debate by Carson was not written to or for Fundamentalists.
2. I think that some of these issues are legitimate reasons to have a lack of fellowship at some levels, although I will grant that there is a lot of extremism in some of these issues as well.
3. I don’t find mainstream Fundamentalism (such as the AACCS or the ACCC) making these official areas of separation.
I would also comment that to say that the Fundamentalist framers did not deal with the "current fundamentalist infatuations" is to be anachronistic. To say that these men did not have/would not have had concerns in some of the areas that are "current fundamentalist infatuations" just because they lived in an era when these things were not issues is to unfairly read back into history our own views. Would Spurgeon have issues with some of the modern church music? I believe he would have, but we cannot know because the issue was not an issue in his day. You cannot argue that the Fundamentalist founders would not have taken a strong stand on some of the issues raised today just because they were silent on them back then. For instance, I cannot imagine Machen remaining quiet against Open Theism if he were alive today.
I not expect my post to change Ken's mind, but I did want to at least attempt to answer some of his comments.
Just my thoughts,