Monday, December 24, 2007

Yes, Virginia, This Really IS a Baptist Church

FBC Pelham celebrated a special Christmas Worship Service entitled "Christmas is Jesus", on December 7th & 8th. It was quite an evening.

Twice.

The concluding number each evening, was "The Revelation Song". There were no house mics to pick up the audience reaction, but I think you'll be able to discern it in the video I've linked to, below.

I've never experienced worship like that in my 25 years in FBC, myself. The leader is Mrs. Paula Kornegay, who is our Interim Worship Leader. Speaking for myself, I hope and pray she will soon become permanent.

Of course, nobody's really permanent ... but this sort of worship will be, if Heaven's what it's cracked up to be.

I could only figure out how to get about 2 minutes uploaded to this thing, but if I figure out how to do the rest, I'll be back. I finally beat my computer into submission and uploaded the whole song to YouTube.

Here's the deal: the song lasted about 4-1/2 minutes and, at the end, the audience was still worshiping and clapping and shouting, so as you'll see, the Worship Leader approached the Pastor and said they were going to sing it again.

And we did. The results speak for themselves. So, click here, turn up the sound, and then worship along with us.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Jack Nicholson Said It Best


There was a line in the motion picture "As Good As It Gets", spoken by Jack Nicholson's character, Melvin Udall, that's come to my mind more than any other single such line I can recall.

Well duuuuh .... it'd be hard for a line I can't recall to come to my mind. Oh well.

Anyway, Carol (Helen Hunt's character) complained that Melvin never complimented her. He promised to come up with one, and some time later, he did. What he said:

"You make me want to be a better man".

As I've thought about that line, I reflected on the friends God has brought my way over the past couple of years. Those folks (in addition to my family, of course) make me want to be a better person. I'll toss out a few, with a promise that I'll omit some important (to me) folks. Unintentionally. I plead advanced age.

CB Scott. I don't have a better friend. If I were pinned down by angry Sandinistas, angry Arminians, or Osama Bin Laden, he's the guy I'd make my one call to.

Wade Burleson. What a Christlike guy. I've seen him in friendly and unfriendly crowds. He's always Christlike, and getting involved with him has gotten me into some SBC stuff that's been rewarding to me, for reasons which go back to my childhood.

Ben Cole. I've been around him enough to know two things for sure: 1) He doesn't have horns, and 2) He's likely the smartest man I've ever met. He makes me think about what I say before I say it, which seems to be a good thing. I'd like to see him on the US Supreme Court. YouTube would take on a whole new relevance.

Tim Rogers. Love that guy like a brother, and his Gail and Rebekah like family. We disagree about some stuff. And maybe about some people. I don't think either of us cares.

Ed Stetzer. There's a pretty big guy (that applies both ways) yet he's humble, entertaining, and perhaps has an even better sense of humor than I do. And he remembers me, too, when I figure he'd not have any real reason to. Gracious.

Boyd Luter. He approached me at the Holy Spirit Conference in Arlington and introduced himself. Said he enjoyed reading my comments and posts. We've become friends via the electrons since then. What a neat guy.

Dwight McKissic. Wow, what a gentle giant. And THAT applies two ways, too.

Monte and Janet Erwin. They've put a face and a heart to all the missionaries who've been eased out of IMB and NAMB service over silly practical issues cloaked in doctrinal positions having more to do with pride than with winning the lost. Monte & Janet are fine people, fine neighbors, and fine friends.

There are lots and lots of others; Dorcas, who bought sandwiches at Subway, Alycelee and Debbie with whom Peg & I had lunch one day at Arlington, all the others I've met in the stuff we've been involved in.

And all the people I forgot. If I remember, I'll add you in.

You probably didn't believe me. But I meant it. I forgot Les Puryear. He's a great guy and is best described by saying you can wrap up a really big Christian in a relatively small body.

Said all that to say this: these are my Christmas presents from God. And I'm most grateful to Him, that our paths crosses.

Since I'm too cheap to buy you all something, consider my wishes for a Merry Christmas to be my present to y'all. My wish for all my friends, is that you'll have your most blessed Christmas ever.

You make me want to be a better person.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

THE DARKEST OF THE DARK CLOUDS

Of all the black clouds darkening heaven, for those of us in the USA, abortion is the worst of them all.

About 18 years ago, a friend wrote a poem about a man who had a dream about heaven. In it, he saw thousands upon thousands of infants marching through heaven singing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”. The man instantly knew they were the souls of aborted babies, and he awoke immediately. He then woke his wife and told her “Honey .. call the doctor and cancel the appointment .. that’s not a fetus, it’s a child.”

I had previously counseled with a young lady who had an abortion several years before, and I could feel the heartache as she talked. I was moved to write a poem about the thought that those who choose abortion just don’t know what they will one day face, as a result thereof. During a slack time at the office a few hours later, I turned to my computer and began typing this poem. I called it “They Just Didn’t Know”, but as the lines poured out, a very dark mood enveloped me. Several times over the course of an hour or so, I saved the work and tried turning to some other things in the office that needed doing. But the dark mood would not go away and I could not think of anything but the burden of the poem. So I finally gave in and typed and pondered until it was done, about 45 minutes later. Not until the last line came forth, did I know what its title would actually be.

One of the evidences of inspiration, to me, is that I have a hard time remembering what I write. This one took 3 weeks to memorize. I suggest the reader contemplate it prayerfully.



IN DARKNESS SO STILL


The clinics were filling with souls gone astray
As the sadness of badness was having its way
The wealthy, the learned, concerned but with pleasure
Had multiplied misery to heights beyond measure

The masses raised glasses to self and to friends
Concerned with the moment, availing all ends
To serve but themselves, with never a thought
Of the millions of murders, and what they had wrought.

But what of that young one, confused and forlorn ..
Who hears mostly "worldness", shouldn't we warn
That should she die, having salvation received
In heaven she may face that soul she conceived

But killed, by means of abortionists' tools
And thus joined the ranks of those Godless fools
Who elevate mankind and pleasure on earth
At the cost of most everything of heavenly worth

And what of the seemingly intelligent mass
With doctoral credentials and worldly class
Who'll stand before God some day and explain
Why such agony, misery, anguish and pain

Were dealt out in measure unknown by the world
As satan's great plan to destroy us unfurled
And they, in their "wisdom", shed innocent blood
Tearing out children, in that terrible flood....

Who knows what to do and yet does it not
Is guilty of sin .. yet we know that a lot
Of good souls detesting such abomination
Have never submitted to Christ's domination

Else all that we do, and all that we say
Would speak volumes against those events of this day
That cause those who look on this product of woe
To know with a certainty that satan's the foe.

So sadness envelopes us all, without choice
For those who raise not a protesting voice
And all those who face not the fruit of their acts
And doctors who kill despite biblical facts

Will all face a judge asking why, in this life
We did what we did, whether with word or with knife
I know I'll plead Jesus as my only answer
But yet I'm not happy, in the face of the cancer

Of ungodly clinics, and churches that never
Cause comfortable members to be driven to sever
Those clandestine footholds the enemy will hold
In lives that won't do what the Bible has told.

Oh God, may I ask; make me up to the task
As a witness to all, whether they ask
Or silently march to those clinics to kill
Your innocent children ... in darkness so still.


My friend CB Scott says that abortion is the most important issue before us in the 2008 Presidential Election. I doubt God cares much for the economy or oil prices, but I cannot imagine He is not preparing to do something about abortion. Make no mistake about it: we WILL stand before a very real God some day, and He is NOT going to be happy over the killing of innocent children, ripped from their mothers' wombs. That WILL happen.

That's why I wrote the poem.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

IT'S ALL PEG'S FAULT

Yes sireeee ... blame this wild thought on Peg.

See, I was sitting in the Target's parking lot in Alabaster, waiting for her to finish up some Christmas shopping and since I didn't have anything else to do, I spent some time thinking. About this baptism thing and just who's good enough to do that to everybody's satisfaction.

Like God's. And maybe some others.

The thought was generated by a couple of scriptures that popped into my mind. They are...

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)

and.....

"He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."" (Acts 1:7-8, NIV)

OK .. now the point: He said HE had all authority in Heaven and on Earth. I think that's pretty much all of it. What He DID NOT say is that He gave THEM "all authority ... on earth", and since He's still alive, I'm betting HE still has it.

If He didn't give all authority on earth to the apostles, then neither they nor the "body" some people seem to think they represented (as opposed to themselves) have "all authority on earth" today. Hence, I'm assuming that we're all operating under Jesus' authority, yet today.

Is the SBC/IMB trying to tell us that Jesus is ONLY "with (us) always, to the very end of the age", through the "local church"? That seems to fly squarely in the face of the Priesthood of the Believer, and is perhaps one reason why some geniuses in the Ivory Towers decided to surreptitiously change that to "the priesthood of all Believers" in the 2000 BF&M.

Add the deal in Acts to that. Jesus said that some "you" would receive power when the Holy Ghost paid us that visit. Seems to me that is uniquely PEOPLE. I seriously doubt He indwells organizations, and besides, it's PEOPLE who do the work anyway. This seems oriented to telling ME that I'll receive power, ostensibly for the work I'm to do.

Could the conspiracy theorists (most of whom seem to know those Tower occupants a lot better than yours truly...) who are talking about so-called leaders trying to consolidate their power, be onto something?

Can I believe Jesus is "with me", today? Or is it a "local church" however you want to define that, that's with me? And if He is, doesn't HE still have all authority?

The command, of Jesus, to carry on the Great Commission ... if it applies to me .. necessarily carries with it the authority to actually DO that. And THAT authority can only come from Jesus, Who promised to be with us as we carried it out. And since He's still with us, I'm thinking HE still has "all authority in heaven and on earth". So, how can the local church tell me that I cannot have it?

NOW. The Great Commission is more than witnessing, praying and baptizing. It's also making disciples. So I cannot merely "love'em and leave'em" and think I'm fulfilling the last command Jesus gave us. I'm going to have to see to the discipleship part, too ... disciple, instruct, teach. But I have to ask whether that's been done, to the 50+% of "local church members" that we can't even find, by the organization that some folks are telling us has "all authority" to baptize.

Hmm.....

I keep hearing that baptism is a local church ordinance. Where does it say that? I just looked at all the verses the BF&M uses to substantiate baptism, but none refer to it as a "church ordinance". It seems to me that, if that's what it is, it's the church that has said that.

Not the bible.

Now I have no quarrel with its being an ordinance, but I am simply not sure that the Bible instructs us that only "authorized representatives" of a narrowly-defined local church can do that.

I don't anticipate ever being in a position of leading someone to saving faith in Jesus, and then being asked to immediately baptize them, right then & there. So this is kind of tilting at windmills. But that does NOT change the fact that I see nothing scriptural to support the IMB/SBC position on baptism, and just who they'll recognize as "authorized" to administer it.

But what do I know? And, at my age, what do I care?

I believe the BF&M. 1963, really ... 2000, mostly ... and the Preamble, particularly.

And enthusiastically.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WAIT JUST A MINUTE ... I'M CONFUSED!!

I think sumthin's messed up here!

I have been following ... from somewhat of a distance, admittedly ... and also from my Padded Cell, from which the view may be somewhat distorted and perhaps even unauthorized ... all the hoopla over at Wade Burleson's place, concerning Baptism and the Training Center in Hyderabad that's been Baptizing all those ladies from around the state. Which states, in India, have a lot of hugeness going for them. It seems Wade stirred up the proverbial nest of hornets by saying that the Baptisms there didn't seem to comply with the ubiquitous SBC view that all such things had to happen under the authority of a local church, in order to be valid. That got some interesting comments along the lines that they were, thank you, despite the fact that the ladies came from villages all over and some of them couldn't even tell their husbands they'd been Baptized, but it was nonetheless under the auspices of some local church where they were from. Like, how else could it be "local"?

Seems stretchy to me.

Wade, on the other hand, seems to have expressed the opinion that any member of the Body of Christ ... I think I've heard that's what the ekklesia is ... who leads someone to Jesus ought to be able to Baptize that person. Well, that didn't set well with a lot of folks who seem to hold an inflated view of local assemblies who cannot find half their members, etc etc.

NOW ALL THIS GOT ME TO THINKING: what're we trying to do here? Seems to me we probably ought to be about carrying out what the Scripture says we should be doing. And what that is, is the two-headed animal of (A) what it tells PEOPLE to do, and (B) what it tells the BODY to do.

They may be different.

First, when Peter preached that two minute doozy of a sermon on the day of Pentecost, the folks asked what they must do to be saved. In the first-ever instruction as to how to get yourself saved, ever heard by man under the current plan (salvation by faith in a risen and ascended Jesus), the people were told to repent and be baptized. So when we talk about Baptism, let's focus on the fact the people were told to BE baptized. If there were any caveats to that, I think Pete would have told them, don't you? In my mind, when someone believes and submits to Christian Baptism, they have fulfilled that command. Scripturally.

Do you hear that, IMB? (Don't guess I expect any changes, at that, though).

Second: the Disciples were told to " ... go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.... " (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)

As I read Matthew, He said that to the eleven remaining disciples. So that begs the question: was that an instruction to each of them, or only to the body as a whole?

Which was it. Persons, or the crowd?

Let's say it was the 11. So they were the only ones who are to go. Add the instructions in Acts 1:8 that certain folks were to be His witness, starting there and spreading through the world, and THAT begs the question: is the command to be a witness ONLY for the apostles? Are we plebians in the pews off the hook for witnessing? Are we? Am I to ignore the command to tell others? To go to foreign fields?

Well, maybe I can't get off the hook that easily. Maybe God did intend that I should get the message that I'm to share the message. And frankly, I think that's the case. I think the command to go and tell is for me as a part of the invisible/universal church, not as a member of a local church.

The ladies came "from villages across the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh: Pathikomba, Konala, Koyyada, Suddapalli, Magaluru... I have to wonder if there was a local church in each of those places. If there was, it seems like they'd have been baptized and discipled there. And if there wasn't, then the evangelist would seem to have been fulfilling only half the great commission.

IF I have any responsibility for the spread of the gospel, that goes beyond taking my tithe to the storehouse, then how can I NOT have, also, the privilege of carrying out the other half of the command; namely to Baptize people?

I recall a lady telling me that believers SHOULD speak in tongues, in light of what Mark 16:17-18 says. I asked if she thought I should handle snakes or drink poison, and she said goodness, she didn't believe that. Well, I said, doesn't the same passage that talks about tongues talk about those things, too?

No answer.

So, in the end, I'm left with the question. Which is it to be? Can I baptize, or can I forget about witnessing?

I'm confused.