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2008 National Leadership Conference

Friday, February 29, 2008

For a number of years, I have attended the National Leadership Conference hosted by Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. I just got back today from the 2008 edition of the National Leadership Conference.

As my normal practice, I plan on writing some articles over the next week or so regarding the NLC, including an overall evaluation and some specific workshops.

However, I am going to start this edition a little bit differently.

I did not get up to the NLC until Wednesday this year, so I asked fellow Pastor and friend Matt Jury to write a report of the opening session for me.

So, without further ado, I present a guest-blog report of the opening session by Pastor Matt Jury.


Tim Jordan preached the opening message of the conference. In his inimitable, fresh, and transparent style, Tim set the tone for the entire conference. His text was Deuteronomy 29.29 and 30.11-14. What follows is a very brief synopsis of the message.

There are many things about God that we do not know. We are often more concerned about the things which God does not reveal than that things which he clearly reveals. We would squabble and separate from each other under the banner of fundamentalism and under the guise of separation. We are more concerned about our labels, which are sometimes misapplied, than we are about the central theme of God's Word, which is what God has chosen to reveal clearly about Himself. Furthermore, we would be
embarrassed to take upon ourselves (ironically in the ministry of Christ) the very label which was applied to Christ. Christ was completely orthodox in His doctrine and teachings, yet the only label which could be placed on Him was that of compromiser because He went where the sinners were to do the Father's will.
Are we willing to be considered a compromiser in the same way?

We ought not be concerned about labels. We ought not be concerned with the preservation of fundamentalism, which is essentially a movement, and all movements are man-made. If we are to live a life that is true, we do not have to go to great
lengths or to the end of the world to determine God's heart and mind. God's Word is truth, and we can do nothing to preserve God's Word. You may rest assured that God will preserve His truth. He will take care of the things which are secret, and He
will take care of the things that He has revealed.

What must we do to preserve truth if God is already preserving His truth? God gave us His Word not so that we would preserve it through defense but through obedience. The only genuine preservation of truth that God desires from us is simply to obey
what He has revealed!

If you purchase only one message or workshop from the entire week, I unreservedly recommend the opening message. I also recommend for those who read this synopsis who are preachers to study this passage and preach it to your congregation or audience at some point in the near future. I intentionally did not include the outline of the message so that you could develop your own thoughts as the Holy Spirit's illumination works in your heart and mind.

May the Lord richly bless the reading of His Word.
Laus Deo (Praise be to God!)
Matt Jury


Thank you, Pastor Jury for your contribution.

Just someone else's thoughts,

Frank

New Mover Lists

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

There are a number of services that are advertised to Pastors and churches that promise to provide churches with a current list every month of the names and addresses of everyone that has moved into your area in the previous month (or quarter or whatever you desire).

When I was helping out at Blythewood Baptist Fellowship in South Carolina while in Grad School, we used one of these services, although I do not remember which one.

I have often been intrigued by them and have thought about pursuing this as an option to let new people in our area know that we are here and invite them out, but I can't quite swallow the price on our small church budget.

Over the last couple of years, however, I have thought, "This information must be publically available somewhere," but I have not been able to locate that source. There is a county government web-site that lists homes sold, but it does not list who bought the homes. I am in the process of looking into some other options of obtaining this information through legwork instead of finances, but I thought I would use this space for one of the things it is good for - I would ask those of you out there in cyberspace.

1. Do any of you have experience at using any of these services and what are your thoughts about them?

2. Do any of you know a way to obtain this informaiton without going through a service such as this? It seems that they have to get it from somewhere and if they do, why can't I?

Anyway, looking for your thoughts,

Frank

Upcoming Meetings with Evangelist Mark Kittrell

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The church where I serve as Pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury, is excited to be welcoming back Evangelist Mark Kittrell and his family for some Special Meetings from Sunday, March 9, 2008 through Wednesday, March 12, 2008.

I know that some of my regular readers are familiar with the Kittrells and their ministry. (It is also my understanding that at least one church has had the Kittrell's for Special Meetings after reading about them on this site!)

If you live in the Salisbury or surrounding area, I would love for you to join us for these Special Meetings. If you do not live in the area, please be in prayer for God t work in these meetings and for the people of God to be challenged and for some to come to know Christ.

I have set up a page on the Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury website with some additional details about the meetings. That page can be found here, although the better way to reach it is probably through the main site (www.fellowshipbaptist-salsibury.org) and then clicking on the banner near the top.

Mr. Kittrell and his wife are long-time friends of ours. I had the privilege of traveling with them when I travled on the Minutemen Evangelistic Team back in 1991. Missy has known Tammisue even longer, having worked with her at The Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center in North Carolina the summer before I traveled.

We had a great time of meetings the last time they visited us, in November of 2005. In fact, I blogged about the meetings we had with them soon after I began this blog (and soon after I began my Pastoral blog - The Pastor's Pen). You can check out some of those posts here, here and here.

If you live in the area, I greatly encourage you to come out and join us for these special meetings. You will be challenged, blessed, and encouraged.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

Shaq's Debut

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tonight was Shaquille O'Neal's debut with my Phoenix Suns.

My initial thoughts after having seen most of the game.

While the Suns lost (more on that later), I saw some things I liked and some things that need work.

Top four things I liked

1. I was pleasantly surprised that Shaq looked like he was in better shape than I was expecting. As Shaq said, "I am in better shape than I thought I was."

2. There were stretches where you could almost see this working down the road - especially as the game wore on.

3. The Suns rebounding looked like it took a step forward. While I expected Shaq to get some boards, if tonight is any indicator, it looks like his presence will also help Amare Stoudamire get some more boards - and that is a good thing!!

4. Shaq's effort looked pretty good. He dove and ran and looked good.

Top four concerns

1. There were times Shaq looked lost on the plays - and that Nash also looked lost about what to do with/for the Big Guy. This is not unexpected considering this is the first game together, but with the West being as tight as it is, they need to get in sync sooner rather than later.

2. The Suns defense looked very bad at times. The blocks were nice, but the Suns have to stop the pick and roll and Shaq needs to be willing to come out of the paint to get guys like Gasol when they shoot shots from just beyond the elbow.

3. It looked at times like the rest of the Suns were trying to adjust to Shaq rather than the other way around. This is not what the Suns need to do if they want to win.

4. The Suns just dropped out of first in their division, L.A. has the tie-breaker for home court in the playoffs, and the Suns have a loosing record against the other playoff caliber teams in the West. That is not good. (Of course, you could also argue that this is one of the reasons why they needed to make the gamble of the Shaq trade in the first place.)

Anyway, those are my quick thoughts after the game.

Frank

National Leadership Conference 2008 is quickly approaching

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

As many of you are aware, I try to make it up to the National Leadership Conference hosted by Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary every year and then write up some reports from the conference.

This year's National Leadership Conference is February 26-29 and I finally made my reservations today. It is my intention to follow my normal planning of doing reports from the general sessions and workshops as I have done over the last few years.

I noticed a couple things on the schedule that seem to be an improvement.

1. I like the fact that all of the Ladies Session are being held on one day. This will hopefully allow my wife to be able to come up for the Ladies Sessions on Thursday for the first time. (I usually try to buy the tapes/CDs of the Ladies Sessions for her, but it is not the same as being there - and besides, last year's didn't record properly:) ).

2. I like the fact that they are repeating some of the sessions. I would like to see more of this, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

If you happen to be attending the National Leadership Conference at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania this year, as well, please look me up. I would love to meet with you.

Oh, yeah. If you would like to look at some my previous reports from past National Leadership Conferences, I think you can find most of them under "Conferences"


Just my thoughts,

Frank

A Game of Interest

Monday, February 18, 2008

As many of my regular readers are probably aware, I am a lifelong Phoenix Suns fan. Having spent a number of my formative years in the Valley of the Sun, I look forward to each basketball season with hope that the Suns will finally be more than "The Little Team that Could ... And Darn Near Did" (to quote the title of a book about the "Fabulous Rise of the Phoenix Suns" by Joe Gilmartin after the Suns nearly won the NBA championship against the hated Boston Celtics early in the team's history).

It seems like most years the Suns have had pretty good regular seasons, but can't quite get over the hump when it comes to the playoffs. As the Suns are putting together another splendid regular season (the Suns are currently tied with New Orleans for the best record in the West at the All-Star break), many folks around the league have indicated that the still don't think the Suns could get it done in the post-season.

Last week, however, the Suns took a giant gamble. The Phoenix Suns made a trade with the Miami Heat to acquire Shaquille O'Neal in a trade that cost the Suns perennial all-star Shawn Marion.

On Wednesday, Shaq is expected to make his Suns' debut in a game against the long-standing arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers.

As a Suns fan, I am looking forward to this game with interest. I am a little mixed on the trade, but after hearing a number of NBA pundits rip the trade for a few days, I tend to think that it may actually be a good trade - or at worst, it was worth the risk.

Throughout the Suns' history, they have often been pursuing the elusive big man. From losing the coin toss for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor in those days) to the disappointment of William Bedford and the tragedy of Nick Vanos, the Suns have never really had a dominating Big Man. The only center in the "Ring of Honor" is Alvin Adams - who was a great player, but at only 6 foot 9 was clearly not a traditional Big Man. Probably the closest thing to a pretty good Big Man the Suns have ever had was Mark West, who put together a couple of decent seasons in the 1990s.

The arrival of Shaq provides the Suns with possibly the first legitimate Big Man in franchise history. The question, however, is if Shaq can still play. Shaq had a down season last year and is off to an even worse season this year. Many of the pundits think that Shaq is washed up and that the Suns should not have made the trade.

The conventional arguments against the trade are as follows:

1. Shaq does not fit into the Suns' up-tempo style and will slow the team down.

2. It is a bad idea to mess with the chemistry of a team that is on track to be the Number 1 seed in the West.

3. Losing Marion means the Suns give up their best defender on a team not known for defense.

4. It weakens the Suns bench, since Shaq will not be able to play the type of minutes that Marion played and losing Banks out of the rotation and the Suns already have a short bench.


There may some validity to some of these issues, but I think the case is not definite.

Here are my concerns then my arguments FOR the trade:

Concerns:

1. Shaq may really be hurt to the point of being just a shell of the old Shaq. I don't expect him to be anywhere close to what he was in his hey-day, but it would help if he was at least 80% of what he was when he helped Miami win the ring two years ago.

2. The Suns may try to make too many adjustments to fit Shaq's style of play instead of vice-versa.

FOR the trade:

1. Championship experience. Shaq has it - Big Time! He has been to the Championship with all three of his previous teams (Orlando, L.A. Lakers, Miami). In none of those teams did he have the complete surrounding cast that he has in Phoenix.

2. Size matters - especially in the play-offs. If you look at the teams that win NBA Championships, one fairly common element is a very good Big Man. (Yes, I know, the Jordan-era Chicago Bulls never had a very good Big Man - but they are the exception that proves the rule :) ). Going backwards, we have Duncan, Shaq, Duncan, Wallace, Duncan, Shaq, Shaq, Shaq, Duncan until you reach Jordan's Bulls (and in the middle of the Bulls' run you have Olajuwan with the two between the three-peats).

3. Marion was wanting out anyway. Those who view this as mortgaging the future, need to realize that Marion was not going to be part of that future anyway. That is unfortunate. I am a big Shawn Marion fan. He is a great all-around player who does not get the attention he deserves. I wish him well in Miami, but rather than just having him walk away at the end of the year, the Suns got one of the greatest Big Men in NBA history (even if it is an older version).

4. Shaq will not slow down the Suns (unless they let him). Remember that the Showtime lakers had Kareem at center. A fast break starts with a rebound (or, in the Suns case, sometimes a made shot by the opponent). Shaq has always been a pretty good rebounder - especially defensive rebounder - which triggers that fast break.

5. Shaq allows Amare to move back over to his natural position. Amare is a power forward who has been playing Center at an all-star level for a couple of years. Shaq's presence allows Amare to move over and not to be forced to play the other team's big man. Hopefully this will allow Amare to remain as fluid as he is without getting into the foul trouble that he tends to get into guarding the centers.

6. This trade should enable Boris Diaw to have a bigger role - he will probably get some of Marion's minutes. Diaw is a very good player. In the year that Stoudamire was out, Diaw filled in admirably and almost helped the Suns into the championship that year.

7. Shaq is a very good team player. Shaq passes very well for a big man. He also has shown (in Miami) a willingness to play second-fiddle when needed. He has a very good understanding of the game and should be able to adjust his game accordingly.

8. Shaq has shown an ability to "turn it on" when needed. He does not have to have a great regular season. He only needs to have a good play-offs.

9. This team does not need Shaq to carry it. It just needs him to contribute in the right way. I would be wary of trying to build a team around Shaq at this point in his career, but the Suns aren't doing that. They are asking him to be a relief pitcher and help them over the hump. I think he can do that.

10. The time to strike is now. Nash is not getting any younger and the Suns' window of opportunity is closing. The last time the Suns were knocking this close for a long-time was in the pre-Barkley days. (Prior to Barkley's arrival, the Suns had won fifty or more games in four seasons in a row and had advanced to the Conference Finals two of those years.) While I was skeptical regarding the Barkley deal when it happened, hind-sight says it worked out okay :) .

Soooo, I am looking forward to seeing the Suns play the Lakers after church on Wednesday night. I don't think we can necessarily tell a lot about one game and I would not be surprised if it does not take a little bit of time until the kinks get worked out, it will be interesting to see the beginning of a new era.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

More Politics - Sorry

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Something to think about:

"This year's election will be unusually consequential. In 2006, Democrats regained control of both houses of Congress. Democrats also now hold a majority of governors' mansions and state legislatures. The Left long has been regnant on America's campuses, in the mainstream news media, in the entertainment industry, and in the unions. A Clinton or Obama victory would put all levers of power into the same hands. What would Democratic Party bosses do with that? How about statehood for Washington, D.C., which would provide two new Democratic votes in the Senate? How about appointing judges who regard the Constitution as clay, and using immigration policy to expand the Left's electoral margins? These and other creative maneuvers could create an anti-conservative majority that would last a generation or
more. Most worrisome of all: Americans today are engaged in a conflict as serious as any we have ever fought... Thinking hard about such questions over the months ahead would be not just alright; it would be commendable---and conservative."


Source: Clifford May

Bob the Builder runs for President

Monday, February 11, 2008

We have been having a number of political primary commercials here in Salisbury. Because Delaware's primary was on Super Tuesday and Maryland's primary is tomorrow, we have gotten a couple of weeks of commercials on the TV and the radio for this area - although I am sure that we have not gotten nearly as many as more "battleground" areas received.

One commercial of which I have seen and heard repeated variations includes the repeated phrase "Yes, we can."

As I kept hearing this statement so many times, I kept having those moments when you think to yourself, "I know I have heard that before."

I figured out what it was! BOB THE BUILDER!! "Can we fix it?" "Yes we can"

So, is that Bob the Builder whose commercials I keep seeing?


Just my "tongue-in-cheek" thoughts,

Frank

Huckabee wins Kansas Caucas

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sorry for all the politics lately, but I find this interesting.

According to the Washington Post, Mike Huckabee has easily won Kansas GOP Caucus over McCain and Paul, et al with a 61% to 24% win over McCain. (Story here)

The Evanglical Outpost had an interesting post entitled, Voter-Based Reality vs. Pundit-Based Reality.

It would still be an incredible long shot, but it could become interesting to watch.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

Romney and Huckabee - Some thoughts on politics

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Last night was the big Super Duper Tuesday primaries here in the U.S.A. While Maryland does not vote until next Tuesday, for twenty-one states, last night was their chance to make their voices heard.

For the last couple of weeks, the Romney campaign seems to be implying that Mike Huckabee needs to get out of the race. They complain that Huckabee is splitting the conservative vote and giving the nomination to John McCain.

The fact is, however, that this assessment is double-talk and inaccurate.

1. It is double-talk because Romney and his friends in the establishment of talk radio (Rush, Sean, Laura, etc.) have been stating for weeks that Huckabee is not a true conservative. Thompson complained that Huckabee is a "pro-life Liberal" rather than a true conservative. I find it incredulous that you can repeatedly rip the man as not conservative and then complain that he is splitting the conservatives - this seems to be double-talk. If anything, by the logic that they have employed, Hucakee should be viewed as taking votes from McCain since they claim that both Huckabee and McCain are liberals.

The reality, however, seems to be a lot of conservatives trust Huckabee's conservativism as much or not more than they trust Romney's conservativism. As I stated in this post, back in October - "I doubt the ability of Romney to excite the conservative base." I believe that this statement still holds true - and I don't think it is irrational that it holds true.

In another October post on this question (entitled, Thinking about Elections), I made the following comments which I still think are true regarding Romney.

Here are some reasons why I question the ability of Mitt Romney to excite the socially conservative rank and file are as follows.

1. His record and rhetoric as a social conservative is wishy-washy at best. If you take the time to watch the videos at YouTube of Romney's debates in Massachusetts, you will find that repeatedly he trumpets his views as pro-choice. "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose." (Here is one of many videos that the left will use against him on this - and that causes the little guys like me to wonder where the guy really stands on this issue). I recognize that he is claiming to be pro-life now, but this debate was in 2002 - we are not talking that long ago and the switch in positions at this venture (especially when he talks in other debates about how long his family has stood on this issue - since his mother ran for Senate) will seem too convenient and politically motivated for the average Joe.

2. He has not galvinized the base already with all the money he has on his side. Romney has spent a whole lot more money than Brownback, Huckabee, etc., but he still has not managed to stir up the excitement. The pundits out there keep talking about how great it is that he has raised a lot of money (although a lot of it seems to be money he has loaned to himself). That is true, but what kind of return is he getting for that money? In the August Iowa straw poll, Huckabee came in second with 18.1% and Brownback came in third with 15.3%.

3. Like it or not, the reality is that the Mormonism of Romney will cause many to be cautious about voting for him. Not just among conservative evangelical voters, but in the general election as well. I understand that "we are voting for a President, not a Pastor" has a nice ring to it, but that line did not work when people wanted to dismiss the character issue in regards to Clinton. The reality is that many Americans vote on how they percieve a guy as much as they do on the person's policies. This is especially true of the folks in the "undecided land" who wait until the last month to make their decisions. For many of these people, the election all comes down to their impression of a person - and for many, that impression of Romney as the great Mormon leader will be the one that holds them back.


In that same article, I wrote:

Imagine if the guys who seem to be trying to get the bandwagon going for Romney would put their efforts behind someone who evangelical Christians could support, rather than a man whose pro-life creditials are shaky at best?


2. Not only is the claim that Huckabee should drop out because he is stealing conservative votes from Romney double-talk since the people making the statements claim Huckabee is not a conservative in the first place, it is also inaccurate because it fails to match up the realities of the records.

* The logic that says that a Huckabee pull out would swing the primaries to Romney are based on a false assumption - namely, that Huckabee supporters would back Romney over McCain. As Michael Medved recently pointed out, a large chunk of Huckabee supporters actually have McCain as their next choice rather than Romney. Why? In part, because they trust McCain on abortion and judges more than they trust Romney on those issues. While McCain is not as strongly pro-life as I would like, he has at least a fairly consistent record of being against abortion for about twenty years in office. Romney, on the other hand, was not only pro-abortion, but bragging about how deeply he was for "choice" just a few years ago while running for governor of Massachusetts.

* The numbers from last night show that, if anything, Romney is hurting Hucakebee more than Huckabee is huring Romney. In the states where Romney got second, the elimination of Huckabee as a choice would not have made much of a difference - even if you gave Romney the vast majority of Huckabee's voters (which, as I said above, would likely not happen).

--- New York McCain - 51, Romney - 28, Huckabee - 11
--- Illinois McCain - 47, Romney - 29, Huckabee - 16
--- New Jersey McCain - 55, Romney - 28, Huckabee - 8
--- Arizona McCain - 48, Romney - 34, Huckabee - 9
--- Connecticut McCain - 52, Romney - 32, Huckabee - 7
--- Delaware McCain - 45, Romney - 33, Huckabee - 15

(The other state in this category is California, which, because of the congressional district apportionment of delegates would take more time than I wish to spend on this to figure out the delegate effect, but the Huckabee factor did not probably hurt Romney any more significantly there than anywhere else - esp. since Huckabee did not really play in California very much.)

If you will notice, even if you gave every single Huckabee vote to Romeny (which seem preposterous to me), the only pick up Romney could have made here would have been the small state of Delaware - and that would require us to suspend disbelief and give Romney 90% of Huckabee's voters.

On the other hand, in a couple of states where Huckabee pulled in second, the absence of Romney could have made a big difference.

--- Missouri McCain - 33, Romney - 29, Huckabee - 32
--- Oklahoma McCain - 37, Romney - 25, Huckabee - 33

Assuming only a 60/40 split of Romney's votes to Huckabee and both of those states swing into the Huckabee column (and Missouri was VERY close and a winner-take-all state of 58 delegates).

(The stats from these races are from Real Clear Politics accessed this morning with over 90% of precints reporting in each state.)




So, what am I saying?

1. Romney and the talking heads should wake up and face the music. Huckabee is not Romeny's problem - Romney is. You can't live your whole life as a "moderate" Republican and then change your mind when it is time to run for President and all the sudden claim to be THE conservative.

2. If the talking heads (and Romney) really want to stop McCain, their best bet is to drop Romney and enthusiastically support Huckabee. (I don't see this happening.)

3. The effect of the repeated hits on McCain from the right may have enough of an effect to hand the Dems the victory in this next election, since some of these idiots have been making comments to the effect that "there is no difference between McCain and Clinton". Get real. McCain has a lifetime conservative voting record of over 80% whereas Clinton and Obama have only a 6% conservative record. Do I agree with McCain on everything - NO WAY!!! But only an idiot would claim that there is no difference between McCain and Clinton.

Anyway, I guess I should stop now.

Just my thoughts,

Frank