Monthly Archives: July 2009

A Love of History, America, and the Church

Along with my love of preaching and teaching the Scriptures, I have grown to enjoy studying American History, with a specific emphasis on the role and view of Christianity in America.  What I have found is that all too many have tried to tailor Jesus into their own worldview, rather than vice versa. 

This blog will simply reflect on things that I read from various history books (biographies, etc.) as well as books addressing the subject on this blog.  I look forward to your views on this as well.

I have also started a Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=129377796960&ref=mf – feel free to join.

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Is Denying a Six-Day Creation Equivalent to Compromising the Gospel?

 

I am currently preparing for a four-part sermon series on “Creationism v. Darwinism: Can The Bible Be Trusted?” in light of Charles Darwin’s (1809-1883) 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s magnum opus, On the Origin of Species.

What has amazed me most in the research on this is not the inconsistencies of Darwinism (nothing on a macro-evolution level has yet to be proven or substantiated), but on how many Christians want to wed Darwin’s theory with the biblical account and impose Darwinian science on the clear text of Scripture.

The most popular way to do this is to take the six days of creation and turn them into “millions of years.” What many want to say is that the word ‘day’ doesn’t mean ‘day’ in the 24-hour sense, but that ‘day’ really means an era or an extended amount of time. Ken Ham on his Answers in Genesis podcast has a whole list of ministers who fail to hold to a literal six days (James Dobson, James Montgomery Boice, to name some), and I would regretfully add Tim Keller to the list as you examine his otherwise fine work The Reason for God (pp. 89-92).

A.E. Wilder-Smith in his wonderful work Man’s Origin, Man’s Destiny says, “An effort has been made to overcome some of the difficulties of harmonization by reckoning the seven creative days of Genesis as seven geological ages. It is in our own view, however, that the attempt to overcome some difficulties by this method often introduces even greater problems” (43). Wilder-Smith notes the absurdity of having plant life (Day 3) exist for millions of years prior to the sunlight being created (Day Four)–especially with the necessity of coal mixtures needing a good dose of sunlight. Plus, did God really rest millions of years? It just doesn’t fit.

But the question is: does this really compromise the Gospel? I believe it can because we risk being inconsistent in taking the gospel found in the Scriptures literally, yet taking the Genesis 1 account which is laid out like history (not poetry) non-literally. It compromises our witness. Just look at the transcripts of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial where Clarence Darrow called prosecuter William Jennings Bryan to the stand. Bryan compromised on the literal nature of the Bible, and Darrow took advantage.

Scientists who embrace Darwinism out of hatred for the possibility of biblical creationism go for this aspect. If they can get us denying the literal nature of the very first chapter of the Bible, then they will not worry about going after other items such as the resurrection. We have already shown the inconsistency–and they have won the day.

What say you?

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Books I’m Working Through (as of July 23, 2009)

I love to read.  I read for various reasons: sermon preparation, relaxation, cultural interest, or for school work (which, Lord willing, will be done in December).  So periodically, I will put up books that I am currently working through that may be of interest to you.  Below are the five I’m working through!

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Always Ready: Directions For Defending the Faith by Dr. Greg Bahnsen (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Foundation, 1996), 288pp., $14.99.

Bahnsen (1948-1995) has given the Christian world a scholarly-yet-accessible work in helping Christians in the area of apologetics (from apologia, which means defense—so this is a primer in how to defend the faith of our Lord Jesus).  This work is broken up into five parts, with each chapter lasting only 3-4 pages.  It came highly recommended to me, and now that I am done with the first part (I bought it today, mind you), I am eager to finish it out. 

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Stephen Prothero, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—And Doesn’t (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 372 pp., $14.95.

Having already read one of his works (American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a Cultural Icon—a good read, by the way), I eagerly purchased this one.  Prothero is the chair of the religion department at Boston University. 

The premise is fantastic.  We are a country of religious illiterates.  We not only fail to understand the Christian moorings on which we ride, but we fail to understand other religions and the countries that are defined by our religion.  Our White House from Reagan on has many economic advisors, but few religion advisors.  Knowing how to deal with Middle Eastern countries by being well-versed in Islam is key, but missing.  Same with China and Confucianism, India and Hinduism, etc.  Our identities are tied up in our founding beliefs.  This book examines the reasons behind this illiteracy and the reasons why we need to be more literate. 

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Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1988), 272 pp., $9.99.

When Christ approached the two disciples on the Emmaus Road after his resurrection (Luke 24:13-35), he took time to explain to them from Moses and the Prophets all that the Old Testament had to say about him.  Christ told them they were “slow of heart” to not understand from the Old Testament who He is and what would become of Him. 

Clowney (along with his disciples, Dennis E. Johnson and Tim Keller) have helped me to preach from the Old Testament in a Christian manner.  We want to discard the Old Testament rather than embrace all that Christ fulfilled in it (Matthew 5:17-18).  Beginning from Adam and Eve through the prophets, Clowney takes us on a marvelous journey.  Your pastor has been well-served by this book—and I pray that in turn you will be as well.

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Clement Eaton, Jefferson Davis (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1977), 334 pp., out of print—can purchase used on Amazon.

I found this book at a used book store here in Lexington.  My desire is to work through a biography of all the American Presidents.  And like it or not, Jefferson Davis was an American President (yes, the Confederate States of America, but let’s not get picky).  Plus, I just finished a Lincoln bio by David Herbert Donald, so I thought I’d give Davis equal time.

I don’t know much about Clement Eaton (1898-??) except what I find on Wikipedia: he was a historian of the American South and contributed a number of works in that field.  I am halfway through this book and appreciate the balance with which he presents Davis: a man who desired states-rights (which meant the right to slavery) and fought hard for Southern interests while serving in the Senate for three terms in the 1840s and 1850s as well as Secretary of War in President Franklin Pierce’s administration. 

Right now, I am to the part where secession is imminent.  I look forward (eventually) to finishing this up. 

Now, some of you may ask, “How do you have time to read?  Do you skimp on other things so you can read what you want?”  If you watch LOST, you may remember a scene at the beginning of the season when Sawyer was in charge of the compound and a crisis was upon them.  Jack (the former leader who used to act impulsively) came in and found Sawyer reading a book instead of acting.  Sawyer commented that Winston Churchill used to read a bit every night, saying it helped him think. 

Reading helps me to gain different perspectives on different things, and the Lord uses that to help rearrange the furniture in my mind to think through things better.  It’s one of life’s simple but grand pleasures. 

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Creation College: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 featuring Dr. David Menton

I am at the Creation College 3, taking place at Lakeside Park Christian Church just south of Cincinnati.   I missed last night’s and this morning’s sessions due to a funeral of one of our dear seasoned saints.  This is a general session.

Dr. David Menton (Ph.D. in cell biology from Brown University and Professor of the Year at Brown University twice) leads us in a session, “Does Darwin Make Sense Without Darwin?”  He begins by answering the question in the title: “Yes!”  He then jokingly (!) said that he would spend the next 59 minutes promoting resources. 

The Evolutionary Paradigm: “Our present knowledge indeed forces us to view that the whole of reality is evolution—a single process of self transformation” (Julian Huxley, What is Science, 1955, p. 278).   Once we buy into this argument, the extent of their argument is two words—“How else?” 

Consider what is known as Dobzhansky’s Dictum:  “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1900-1975, leading 20th century evolutionist).   To deny this, Menton contends, would exclude many from the realm of science.  Yet, Menton as a creationist with all his significant accolades (see above) proved this incorrect. 

Menton acquainted us with a quote by Adam Wilkins, who gave both acknowledgment to the work of natural selection, but . . . .

“While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’. . . Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea, and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one” (Adam S. Wilkins, Introduction to “Evolutionary Processes,” BioEssays 22 no. 12 (2000): 1051.

Yet consider Marc Kirschner’s understanding:

“In fact, over the last 100 years years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself.  Molecular biology, biochemistry and physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all” (Marc Kirschner, Boston Globe, October 23, 2005). 

Paul Davies, never one to be at a loss for conviction, brings to light what many consider the paramount issue in regards to evolution and natural selection:

“How did stupid atoms spontaneously write their own software, and where did the very peculiar for of information needed to get the first living cell up and running come from?  Nobody knows” (P. Davies, New Scientist, vol. 163:2204 (1999), p. 27-30). 

Do mutations of this nature truly evolve into higher life forms?  James Crow of the University of Wisconsin says, “No!”

“The typical mutation is very mild.  It usually has no effect, but shows us as a small decrease in viability or fertility.” (James Crow, Chairman of Genetics, University of Wisconsin Medical School, 1997).

Motoo Kimura, Ph.D., Evolutionary Geneticists.  In his graph on Kimura’s Distribution regarding mutation effect, there are no positive mutations which are beneficial, yet numerous which are neutral (read: lethal).  The more frequent, the more lethal. 

Bird Feathers: Feathers from Scales?

Those who hold to natural selection say that birds evolved from reptiles and that the feathers evolved into scales.  Alfred Romer contends, “Although these structures seem quite different from the horny scales a reptiles’ body, the difference is in reality not very great” (Alfred Romer)Menton gave conclusive proof that there is a marked difference. 

Scales are folds in the skin—one scale is attached to the next scale.  Feathers grow up individually in follicles, which are tubes in the skin.  Evolutionists ignore the similarity between feathers and a hair follicle!

Conclusion

I only gave a small portion of this lecture.  But as “superfluous” as this theory remains, one must see the design of the Creator of Genesis 1:1 all over all we see.  To deny otherwise is to build a religion built upon the faith of Dobzhansky’s Dictum (see above).  No thank you!

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Pictures from the Deacon’s Watermelon Fellowship and Ron’s 10th Anniversary Celebration

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M.V.P. E-Newsletter for the Week of July 20-26, 2009

(Please bookmark this blog! I will post or link to sites/articles which will help us in catching God’s vision for Boone’s Creek!)

Developing the mission, vision, and passion of Jesus Christ and His glorious church!

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REFLECTIONS OF OUR JULY 2009 BUSINESS MEETING
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Our church had a rather significant business meeting on Sunday evening, July 12. Two major items of business were on the floor: a new engine for our mower, and allowing the building committee to spend up to $10,000 for the Arise and Build in-house stewardship campaign. Their desire is to provide promotional material to give everyone a mental and spiritual picture of the building, as well as have a Celebration Stewardship Kickoff slated for Saturday, October 24.

As you can imagine, asking for this amount of money can cause the ears to perk up for many of our members. But if I may, I would like to sketch out some observations from that meeting:

To read the rest of this, please visit here: http://castinginthecreek.blogspot.com/2009/07/reflections-on-our-july-2009-business.html .

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CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY OF TROY DIXON
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As you may have heard, Troy Dixon went to be with Jesus on Saturday, July 18, at 4:30 a.m. For the past few years, he was a resident of Sayre Christian Village. He is survived by his wife of almost 65 years, Agnes Dixon, as well as numerous children, grandchildren, and a loving church family at Boone’s Creek.

Visitation will be at Kerr Bros. on Main Street on Monday, July 20, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. The funeral will be at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church at 12:30 p.m. Please come out and pay your respects and give your love to this wonderful family during their time of loss. A great battle has been won—though Satan may work to discourage in this time, Troy is at home with Jesus and out of the clutches of this cursed world. Even “death is swallowed up in victory.”

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Boone’s Creek Fighter Verse: Isaiah 25:6-8
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6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
   a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7And he will swallow up on this mountain
   the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
   and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the LORD has spoken.

(Use this Fighter Verse for personal Scripture memory or to teach this to your child to help them stockpile God’s Word in their hearts –Psalm 119:11.)

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WATERMELON FELLOWSHIP AND CELEBRATING RON’S 10 YEARS WITH US
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When the average Southern Baptist minister stays at a church just under five years, and an average youth minister stays at a church 18 months (!), celebrating someone investing their lives for ten years at a church should be appreciated and celebrated. I hope someone caught the look on Ron’s face when he saw Laura’s artwork in shaping a cake in the likeness of one of Ron’s Ovation guitars. I’m proud of our Boone’s Creek folks for keeping this such a secret.

We made a covenant with each other at the park last night to not take one another for granted. Appreciation and encouragement fuels us and helps us to persevere. So let’s help one another along, shall we?

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Articles from “Casting at the Creek”

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Are We Swimming in the Same Direction? Lessons from “Finding Nemo”

http://castinginthecreek.blogspot.com/2009/07/are-we-swimming-in-same-direction.html

This is one of the more important articles I’ve written in regards to the direction of our church. A hard copy will be made available to the church family shortly.

Famous Failures (YouTube)

http://castinginthecreek.blogspot.com/2009/07/famous-failures-youtube-video.html

This is a short video of a list of famous failures in history. We can learn lessons from our mistakes (often more so than our successes)!

“Why So Serious? Considering a Short List of Gospel Contradictions” by Michael Spencer

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/why-so-serious-considering-a-short-list-of-gospel-contradictions

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Would You Help Us Serve Our King?
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On occasion, we have some needs in various areas of service.

· We need some to volunteer to mow. God has blessed us with some beautiful property. Part of being good stewards of His blessings as well as getting ready for family and guests is helping to keep it maintained. You may not feel gifted to teach, have the talent to sing, have the patience to work with children—so why not sign up to mow? Help us keep Boone’s Creek beautiful.

· Some men to serve in-between Sunday School and church as valets and parking lot greeters. While we may take for granted that people know where they need to go, let’s make sure they know where to go! Eric Masters has done a marvelous job coordinating our valet service over the past year or so, but he’s graduating and moving on to Williamsburg. Will you step in and help us make our guests feel welcomed?

· We need some who love ministering to children to help us in Extended Session. Extended Session takes place at the same time as our Sunday morning worship. If you feel led to be a part of this ministry, contact Cindy Perry (543-8839 / theperrysix@gmail.com ) or Debbie Caudill (576-2869 / dlcaud2@uky.edu).

We praise God that we have some to help with our Welcome Table: Grace Barker, Sarah Ingham, Laura Preston, and Niki Scott. Thank you for stepping up!

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This Past Sunday and This Coming Sunday             

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Sunday School: 99

Sunday Morning Worship: 117

· This past Sunday, July 19, Eric Masters preached on “It’s All About Christ” from Ephesians 2:1-10. You can access this sermon here (http://sermoncloud.monkserve.com/EKK/256/2009-07-19.mp3 .)

Next Sunday will continue our series on “Kingdom People with Kingdom Vision” on the topic, “Persistence in Petitioning Our King: When Kingdom Citizens Pray.”

· For more recent sermons, long on to http://www.sermoncloud.com/bcbc

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REACH Group Update
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We will resume our REACH groups on June 4. We will be going over a study from Thabiti Anyabwile’s book What is a Healthy Church Member? (Crossway Books, 2008) Our REACH Groups are:

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Kenneth and Kellyn Clayton: Lexington. Location and time: Thursdays beginning June 11, 1550 Trent Blvd. Apt. #810, Lexington KY 40515. The meetings begin at 6:00 p.m.

Bro. Matthew Perry: Athens area, Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m.

(We are in need of someone to lead a REACH group in the Winchester area and the Nicholasville area. If you have questions about our REACH groups, feel free to call me [263-5466] or e-mail me [theperrysix@gmail.com ] for more information.)

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Events and Ministries: check out http://www.boonescreekchurch.com/news
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Saturday, July 25: Finance Committee Meeting from 10:00 a.m. until ??

Now that the finance committee is in place, it is time for them to get to work. All of you, be in prayer for our finance committee: Mark Masters (chairman), Roger Wingate, Steve Catt, Mike Podgorski, Cecil Short, Ron Thomas, Mike Hamilton, and Bro. Matthew Perry (ex-officio member).

Sunday, July 26:

The Finance Committee needs all budget requests from all ministers and committees by this day. Thank you for helping them fulfill their ministry and meet this important need.

Deacon Nominations on Sunday, August 2, and Sunday, August 9

During the first two weeks of August, each church member has the opportunity to make nominations of scripturally qualified men to be considered for the office of deacon. In accordance to our constitution & bylaws, you are permitted to nominate up to three men. The church will prayerfully consider the following scriptural-based qualifications and biblically-based lifestyle in electing men to the office of Deacon:

1. A Deacon is a person of genuine and growing Christian experience. (Acts 6:3)

2. A Deacon possesses depth of insight, Christian understanding and sound judgment in the practical issues of life. (Acts 6:3)

3. A Deacon’s attitude toward the church and the Kingdom of God is marked by vision filled with hope and faith and good will. A Deacon will be faithful to responsibilities and exhibit a positive attitude toward the church and its total enterprises. (Acts 6:5)

4. A Deacon’s reputation in the community is above reproach in integrity and ethical conduct. (1 Timothy 3:8)

5. A Deacon speaks the simple truth in love at all times and under all circumstances. (1 Timothy 3:8)

6. A Deacon is temperate in all personal habits and behavior (1 Timothy 3:8) and must abstain from the sale, use of, or serving of alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs, and from gambling.

7. A Deacon is committed to (1) the conviction of God’s ownership of all things, (2) developing a growing sense of stewardship in personal experiences, and (3) practicing the Biblical principle of the tithe as the minimum standard of giving to Boone’s Creek Baptist Church. (1 Timothy 3:8)

8. A Deacon is committed to the full gospel of Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer to both personal and social needs of our world. (1 Timothy 3:9)

9. A Deacon is one whose life has been tested and found dependable and trustworthy in the church and community. (1 Timothy 3:10). He must be an active member of Boone’s Creek Baptist Church for a minimum of 36 months.

10. A Deacon must be the husband of one wife with an exemplary and wholesome home life. (1 Timothy 3:11-13)

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AT A CONFERENCE THIS COMING WEEK

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I have the privilege of attending a conference put on by Answers in Genesis called “Creation College 3” (http://www.creationcollege3.com). It’s theme is “Prepare to Defend,” giving us four days of apologetics teaching from some of the world’s best speakers on creation. The conference takes place just south of Cincinnati in Lakeside Park, KY, at the Lakeside Christian Church. You can go to the website and follow each of the sessions on a live webcast! I’m looking forward to this time, and I thank the church for permitting me and our staff to continue our education in this way.

I will leave for the conference after the funeral on Tuesday, but will be at church on Wednesday. Then I will head back all day Thursday and Friday morning. I would appreciate your prayers.

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PRAYER REQUESTS
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  • The family of Troy Dixon;
  • Pray for Shirley Perry, Bro. Matt’s mom, who suffered a compressed fracture in a lower vertebrae;
  • Marie Ramey: after a recent trip to the hospital, she is now home.
  • Peryda Pike
  • Cindy Perry: pray for her in her recent diagnosis of lupus as well as the recent loss of her father
  • Paul Ponder: recent mild stroke
  • Don Humphries: recent mild stroke; in rehab at Cardinal Hill.
  • Sarah Darnall: lost her great grandmother recently.
  • John Lamb and his family: John lost his wife Susan recently to a heart attack.
  • Ann Penn Hayes: doing much better!
  • Danny Pratt: Linda Moon’s brother-in-law, who is having surgery this week
  • Mattie Farrow
  • Christine Owens:  lost her daughter a few weeks ago

(Any other prayer requests you’d like to share?  Let Jennifer know so she can put them on our Prayer Guide.)

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Boone’s Creek Baptist Church aims to spread the glory of God from our neighbors to the nations. We do this by strengthening the people of God and sharing the gospel of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Newsletter by Pastor Matthew Perry, Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY

Church Homepage:  http://www.boonescreekchurch.com

Do you Twitter?  http://www.twitter.com/mattperrybcbc

Do you do Facebook? http://www.facebook.com/himweproclaim

July Newsletter (pdf):

http://boonescreekchurch.com/clientimages/26548/trumpet/bcbc-2009-07.pdf

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Logos Bible Giveaway (This is Impressive)

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.

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Reflections on our July 2009 Business Meeting

Boone’s Creek Baptist Church had a rather significant business meeting on Sunday evening, July 12. Two major items of business were on the floor: a new engine for our mower, and allowing the building committee to spend up to $10,000 for the Arise and Build in-house stewardship campaign. Their desire is to provide promotional material to give everyone a mental and spiritual picture of the building, as well as have a Celebration Stewardship Kickoff slated for Saturday, October 24.

As you can imagine, asking for this amount of money can cause the ears to perk up for many of our members. But if I may, I would like to sketch out some observations from that meeting:

First, everyone was at that meeting because they love their church.

That’s right. The 40-50 people who attended this business meeting love Boone’s Creek Baptist Church. Before we even deal with the nature and percentage of the vote, this understanding is foundational to understanding all that happened this past Sunday night. Not everyone agreed with the items on the table, everyone came at these questions from the perspective of wanting our church to do what it should.

While I’m in no position to judge hearts, I am in a position to deliver challenges based upon God’s Word. We must be careful that our love for the church does not stem from fear of change or fear of the unknown. It’s God’s church–not mine, and not anyone else’s. Christ has made it clear that He will build his church (Matthew 16:13-20) and Paul makes it clear that Christ is the head of the church (Col. 1:18-23). So every issue that comes along, we must prayerfully consider this: are we trusting in Christ to build His church and do something great, or are we trusting in our own ways and means to accomplish what we believe the church should be? These are things that I have to ask myself at every turn.

Secondly, every one in our church struggles between seeing what is and what they hope and desire it to be.

It is very easy to “walk by sight”—in other words, to operate from the vantage point of what is. We may look around our church and think, “Our church is small.” (Actually, the average church in our country has 70 in attendance. During the Fall and Spring, we have approximately 160-170 average attendance. Granted, it’s not Southland Christian Church or Porter Memorial Baptist Church, but it’s still bigger than the average American church.) So we operate on a level than other churches. Numbers-wise, we are better off than many, but not quite where we’d like in relation to others.

Even so, what matters is not what we are in relation to other churches. What matters is, where we are in relationship to where God would have us. In order for us to move, it will require change. Matt Perman passed along a great quote: “The first requirement for successful innovation is to look at a change as a potential opportunity instead of a threat.” For many, change is a threat which moves people away from stability to instability. For some, stability is an idol. Anything which moves us away from that must be avoided because, for them, it hinders worship.

While I am not a big fan of setting numerical goals (VBS the notable exception) because it focuses us on man-made accomplishments and, in turn, moves us from seeing people as projects instead of those in need of the gospel, I believe we must set some spiritual goals in sharing the gospel or, at the very least, inviting people to church so they may get under the gospel influence.

It takes a great act of faith in our sovereign God to look past what is in order to envision what could be. It has little to do with numbers. It has everything to do with trusting in God to be obedient where we are.

Thirdly, everyone wants to be a good steward of the money God has provided through their tithes and offerings, but we must realize that this is not the exclusive or primary matter in which we must be good stewards. Paul tells Timothy to be a good steward of the gospel entrusted to him (1 Timothy 1:12-21). Peter wrote to his churches that we must be good stewards of God’s grace (1 Peter 4:10). We are to be stewards of our people (John 13:35; Galatians 6:1-2), as well as stewards of our community (Ezra 9). We are even to be good stewards of our time (Ephesians 5:14-16).

We must move our minds away from stewardship being solely about how we spend our finances. This is a misunderstanding of the highest degree. If we are not being good stewards of understanding and articulating the gospel, nor being good stewards of our brothers and sisters in Christ, good stewards of doing Kingdom work in our community, or even our personal time, a disastrous result will occur: that bad stewardship will bleed over into bad stewardship of the finances and resources God has given to us. So let us make sure that our stewardship is well-rounded.

Fourthly, what a joy to be a member of a church that permits discussion and allows a say in the operation of that church. For some who may not be a part of the Baptist tradition, business meetings and all the ensuing discussions may seem like a trial. But it’s a great blessing that all of us have an opportunity to discuss major (and minor) items of business.

We must beware of the danger of only participating when something “important” is going on. Like it or not, when we are a Christian and a member of the body of Christ, we are not called to sporadic or part-time membership. We are full members of the fellowship. And therefore, we have the responsibility and the privilege of kicking in for the sake of Christ as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ.

So there it is! So many good things to take away, but also some things to consider as well. May God continue to guide Boone’s Creek along as we spread His glory from our neighbors to the nations.

Categories: church, Gospel, membership, stewardship, vision | Leave a comment

Are We Swimming in the Same Direction? Lessons from "Finding Nemo"

Last night, after our venture to the Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati, we came home to watch Finding Nemo (Pixar) for some relaxation and for the kids to see if they recognized any of the fish they saw at the aquarium.

In the process, I was struck by one of the last major scenes of the movie. Rather than try to describe the scene, I hope you’ll watch it. It is the portion where the fish are caught in some fishermen’s nets and what they do to escape.

Here’s the clip:

What do we see here? An allegory of sorts. An allegory is “a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another” (Dictionary.com). In other words, most of the items in this story represent something in real life. So here we go.

The fish represent us at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church

How? None of us live the same type of lives, do we? Even in my house, though we have the same last name go about our lives in slightly different directions and from different perspectives. When it comes to backgrounds, jobs, mindsets over the temperature of the house, how to wash dishes, what to eat for dinner–we come at life from different perspectives and directions.

Each of the fish in this scene is heading in a similar direction, but clearly they are on their own. In other words, they are together, but they are not together. What gets them together?

They see the net coming (more on what that net means in a moment), so they reverse course in an attempt to save their lives! So they see a common threat. Fear has a way of galvanizing a group–even members of a church. It could be fear of having no money, a fear of becoming obsolete, a fear of change from the traditions developed and held dear, a fear of not being relevant, a fear of having less and less influence, etc. But notice that even this fear does not bring unity–these fish were on their own. They were heading in the same direction for the purpose of escaping the net.

Let’s talk about this net

This net represents a group that is stuck. Groups become ‘stuck’ for various reasons. This group of fish grew this way due to an enemy coming along wishing to capture these fish in order to sell them. From the enemy’s perspective, these fish are an ends to a means.

Yet, these fish recognize that them being ‘stuck’ in this situation will lead to certain death. And in many ways, those fish understand better the dire consequences of being ‘stuck’ in this nature–for it will lead to death. In Boone’s Creek’s case, it may not lead to death by way of extinction, but it will lead to the death of our influence and witness and Kingdom effectiveness.

We must understand that there are ways in which we must be ‘stuck.’

  • We must be stuck in our commitment to the Scriptures (Psalm 119:15-16; John 17:17);
  • We must be stuck in our commitment to the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) by whom all Christians are to be identified through baptism (Matthew 28:19).
  • We must be stuck in our commitment to the Gospel (Mark 1:14-15; John 3:1-21);
  • We must be stuck in the “one anothers.”
  • We must be stuck in our commitment to the body of Christ that clearly proclaims Christ and His gospel (Col. 2:6-15).

Yet what are ways that we fish may grow stuck?

Music

This is clearly the biggest flashpoint. As one who served as minister of music for ten years, I understand how so many view the music used in the worship service. For many, if the music isn’t their style, they say they ‘haven’t worshiped.’ This is particularly troublesome, because we should worship based upon what Christ has accomplished through his death, burial, and resurrection. Our worship should hinge on this, not on man-made compositions and styles. We must beware that if a style of music affects our ‘worship,’ we will become worshipers of music (and that, dear friends, is the epitome of an idol) (Jeremiah 2:9-11; Romans 1:18-23).

Man-made traditions

I equate some traditions to lint in the lint trap of my dryer. (Now, hang with me on this one.) The more the clothes roll along in the dryer, the more lint accumulates. For many churches, the more time rolls along, the more traditions accumulate until they become as much a part of the church as the furniture in the sanctuary. And as generations inherit these firmly-grasped traditions, they become more aware of these traditions than of Christ and the gospel. This is part of the reason why so many Southern Baptists (SBCers) are sucked into other cults: they know their traditions, and as such they know the terms we evangelicals use (salvation, eternal life, church, Christ, the Bible), but they don’t know the substance of those terms. So when cults come along using the same verbiage yet having a clearly different meaning, SBCers take the bait and become stuck in a false religion with a false gospel giving false assurance. Yet, what they have done is simply exchanged one man-made tradition for another.

This is why it is good to evaluate and clean out the lint traps frequently before the lint gets into the machinery. Isaiah 29:13 says:

And the Lord said:”Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men.”

Memories

Like music, memories are powerful in churches. While God provides this function of ‘memory’ as a great gift, the flesh and the devil use this as a net in which we may be stuck. Like the changes in music or moving away from traditions, changes in the church may come about because of a memory some may have. For instance:

  • We cannot change the baptistry. My granddaughter and daughter were baptized in that baptistry.
  • We cannot change the color of the walls. Why, Sister Sue painted this in this manner years ago! She put so much effort into it!
  • We cannot tear down our old sanctuary! I was married in that building, as was my parents! I came to faith in Christ in that sanctuary. It would be unbearable to tear it down.

Could I go on? While these examples are not real (at least, I’ve never come across them), I know some from other churches who have. And maybe some in our church have certain things in our church that really effects them if they are moved, changed, redirected, or reset.

So as we must not make an idol of our musical preference, or our man-made traditions, we must not bow down to the idol our memories. One person once said, The past is meant to be learned from, not lived in. It is good to look back on our memories, but we must glean out the lessons from them as we move forward.

How Did The Fish Become… “Unstuck”?

In the movie, Dory is caught in the net with the rest of the fish. Nemo remembers how they escaped in the fishtank earlier in the movie: each of the fish in the net swam down. Their collective power and energy helped them break away. So Nemo instructs the fish to do the same thing. Eventually, they break out of that net and are free.

Those fish had to receive outside instruction on what to do. This is the same with us as followers of Christ. In our own fearful state, we can cling to music, traditions, memories, etc. to find that much-coveted stability.

Or …

We receive outside instruction from the Word and the Spirit and we all move in the same direction with the same purpose for the same glory of God.

Preaching and teaching and read the Word of God is that outside instruction. And as the Spirit begins to apply that Word to our hearts at Boone’s Creek, we will soon be heading in the same direction.

Those fish had to act on those instructions given. Receiving the Word so that the Word grips you is so key. Now, it’s time to bear that fruit. The Spirit regenerates our hearts, causing us to be born again. Through the Spirit, God gives us the faith to believe in His Son (something we could not do on our own). Then the Spirit sanctifies our hearts as His will becomes more prominent. In other words, the flesh has less and less influence as the Spirit has more and more. Our actions which come from these instructions are not actions in hope of salvation, but are actions which give evidence to that salvation.

Closing Thoughts

Some churches, like many businesses, are about mission statements and vision statements. We have ours as well: We aim to spread the glory of God from our neighbors to the nations. Yet, we failed to be dialed in to the fact that every sermon preached, every lesson taught, every hymn sung–all these things are used by the Holy Spirit to craft a vision into the hearts of all Christians at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church.

We must come into our times of worship with this understanding: God’s Word is his revelation, his vision, for his people. We don’t wait for something to be “relevant” (a very self-serving word) before we’ll listen. We listen and prayerfully absorb even if it doesn’t seem to be personally relevant to us. It’s in His Word, and God has given preachers and teachers to help us understand that He put these things in His Word for a purpose.

Christ brought the fish into the boat (salvation), and he brought His fish together here at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church (membership)–now what will our fish look like? A me-first attitude, a fearful attitude, or a faithful attitude as we all swim together in the same direction toward the same Christ for the same purpose?

All this from a kids’ movie! Isn’t God amazing?

Categories: church, missions, SBC, vision | Leave a comment

Famous Failures (YouTube Video)

We should never be afraid of failure. Sometimes, the best teaching tools are the mistakes that we can learn from. May God give us the strength to try for His glory–rather than not try out of pride and fear of being a personal failure.

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