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church

Godless Churches

Recently, the New York Times ran an article citing scientific evidence that demonstrated that attending church is good for your health. The study revealed that people who regularly attend church, on average, live two to three years longer than non-attenders. This was one of a number of studies recently with similar results. Read More »

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To Live Is Christ and To Die is Gain: The Morality of Suicide

The Pew Research Center released the results of a recent study on views of end of life medical treatment. Among the more interesting findings is how different faith groups view the morality of ending life. In an analysis of the findings, Christianity Today reports, “About a quarter of evangelicals believe that a person has a moral right to suicide if he or she is ready to die because living is now a burden, or if that person is an extremely heavy burden on his or her family.” Read More »

PreachTheWord

Four Types of Meaning in Texts

The text-driven preacher must recognize that there are four basic types of meaning conveyed in every text and context: referential, situational, structural and semantic. Referential meaning is that which is being talked about; the subject matter of a text. Situational meaning is information pertaining to the participants in a communication act; matters of environment, social status, etc. Structural meaning has to do with the arrangement of the information in the text itself; the grammar and syntax of a text. Semantics has to do with the structure of meaning and is in some sense the confluence of referential, situational and structural meaning. 1 Read More »

Notes:

  1. See Beekman, Callow and Kopesec, Semantic Structure, 8-13.
ReachTheWorld

The Rap on Rap

Recent furor over a panel discussion on rap at the NCFIC has ignited a controversy in the Christian cyber community. Tragedy is not lacking in some of what has been uttered. At the outset, I confess that I have neither the rhythm nor the quickness of mind to be a rapper so I do not participate just as I do not plan to treat my campus to my rendition of “O Holy Night” this Christmas. But contrary to the panel, I have used Christian rap in chapel and will not hesitate to do so again. I also initiated a jazz degree in Southwestern’s School of Church Music. Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Preaching Revelation

The book to end the Book is an incredible book. Some look at it as a road map through which they can navigate modern events. Therefore they go slow. They stop to gaze at the magnificent visions in Revelation, and as they gaze they wonder exactly why it is written this way. They poke and prod, they squeeze and mix, until what is extracted from this vision becomes a blend of modern events glazed over with speculation and hope. Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Preaching Parables

The parables of Jesus are go-to texts in preaching. They are so familiar, so convicting, so artful that they just beg to be preached. However the familiarity of the text can lull us into exegetical slumber: the state in which we never rethink our approach to understanding them. And what’s worse, the exegetical slumber leads to a homiletical boredom. If we think the text is predictable then we will preach it predictable ways. So, here are features of parables that we need to attend to while preaching parables. Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Preaching Prophecy

If the prophets are the leftovers of preaching, the Minor prophets are the vegetables—the really, really, last resort in text selection. With the exception of Jonah, rarely is a Minor prophet a go-to text. Why is it that these major chunks of the Old Testament are largely neglected? Three reasons come to mind. Read More »

church

Church Revitalization: Let’s Keep the Conversation Going

There is a conversation that is getting louder in Southern Baptist circles, and it is one that I am very excited about. The SBC website says we are a network of over 45,000 churches with nearly 16 million members, but the reality is that we have a great percentage of churches that are plateaued or declining. I have seen statistics showing between 70 to 80 percent of our Southern Baptist churches are at this point. Any honest observation would admit there are many sick, dying, or even dead-and-just-do-not-realize-it-yet churches. Read More »

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Debating Paige Patterson: 1981 Southern Baptist Inerrancy Debates with Cecil Sherman & Kenneth Chafin

Seven-score and ten years ago this very day, Abraham Lincoln arrived in a town not far from here to dedicate the cemetery and honor the men who had fallen at the Battle of Gettysburg. In his two-and-a-half-minute address, Lincoln remarked, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” Gettysburg, says historian Alan C. Guelzo, was “the greatest and most violent collision the North American continent had ever seen,” 1 and thus the testing of the nation to which Lincoln alluded was “a kind of pass/fail examination to determine once and for all whether the American founding had indeed been misbegotten.” 2

Download PDF of “Debating Paige Patterson” Read More »

Notes:

  1. Allen C. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (New York: Knopf, 2013), 5.
  2. Ibid, 480.
directions

ObamaCare, Contraception, and the War on Women

What is the war on women? The phrase has been used by various political groups to characterize attitudes related to the perspective on women’s roles in the home and workplace. In recent days, the idea of a war on women has been used to describe the debate over whether or not the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., ObamaCare) should provide all forms of FDA-approved contraceptives to women at no cost to them. The typical accusations of a war against women have been lobbed against conservatives who seek to limit the government’s role in providing contraceptives. Read More »

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On Being a Pastor’s Kid, Part Three

I love pastor’s kids (PK’s). I loved being one, and I love having them. I don’t mind the term PK and still wear it with pride. So far in this brief series, the first article focused those who are not the parents of pastor’s kids, and the second article addressed those who are. In this last article, I want to talk about being a pastor’s kid. Read More »

ENDA and The Superiority of Men

Congress is currently considering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA). For review of the issues see the helpful ERLC piece here. The bill would require employers to hire without consideration of an employees’ sexual orientation. The truth is that a person’s abilities may not be hindered by their sexual orientation. It is also true that no one should ever be discriminated against—for any reason. However, the reality is that this bill threatens the existence of businesses that desire to govern themselves in consistence with their religious convictions. In this way, it infringes upon the right to operate a company by conservative evangelical convictions. Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Preaching Law

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

Deut. 13:1-4 Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Preaching Old Testament Narrative

Isn’t she someone else’s wife?

David ignores the question of his servant and sleeps with her anyway. She’s pregnant. David ignores the opportunity to come clean and orders her husband to be killed. The stealth of deception is absolutely shocking. Cold, sterile, calculated, lying. From the heart of the most poetic God-fearer who ever lived oozes this willful independence and vulgar dishonesty. David lied. David stole. David killed. He would be forgiven from these sins, but neither his kingdom nor his family would ever recover. Read More »

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Are Christians ever excused from teaching and obeying clear commands in the New Testament?

A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society’s 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.Read More »

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Presbyterianism: Carrying the Torch of “Reformed” Ecclesiology and Theology

Last month when we examined Anglicanism, we noted that the denomination’s uniqueness originated in the way its founders sought to unite the best of Protestantism and Catholicism. They sought, in other words, a middle way between “Geneva” and “Rome.” This month we turn our attention to a group that sought to identify itself only with Geneva’s “Reformed” church: Presbyterianism. Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Preaching Wisdom

The structure of the text should be the structure of the sermon.

This axiom is easy enough to follow when preaching a New Testament Epistle where you can follow the clear paragraph structure of the text, using rhetorical clues to divide the text such as verbs and conjunctions. However, doesn’t this axiom break down when preaching the Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)? If, for example, one were to preach Proverbs 14:1-4, the first verse relates to a wise woman, the second to uprightness, the third to foolish talk, and the fourth to the value of the oxen. That’s a pretty entertaining four-point sermon, but it hardly seems to flow. Read More »

boy_home_school

On Being a Pastor’s Kid, Part 2

Without question, the foundation of “training up a child in the way he should go” begins in the home. Being a pastor and a parent is not more difficult than any other parent in society. Like all parents, pastors are responsible for laying the groundwork for the spiritual welfare of their children. The complication comes when the roles of pastor and parent are seen in contradiction to each other. In reality, a pastor demonstrates his merit as a minister through his effectiveness as a parent. Read More »

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The Strange Value of the Internet Bible

As everyone who knows me well is aware, I have often not been a fan of the Internet. However, the Internet is very much like atomic energy. Used properly, there are great blessings. Used in a less than desirable fashion, it is accompanied by great sadness. Recently a student asked me the question, “Do you mind if we follow the Bible reading in chapel on our iPhones (I’m sure iPads and other contrivances could be included)?” My response might have startled him a bit, but I informed him that I was not in the least offended by such. Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Preaching the Psalms

Have you ever sat next to someone in church who has a terrible singing voice and just doesn’t care? They just sing it like they really mean it. I envy this person. Without the slightest bit of self-awareness, they simply rear back and let the song fly. They’re too enraptured with the theology of the lyrics to be self-conscious about what others think. This moment is between them and their God. Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Why Genre Matters in Preaching, Part 2

As we established in the last post, the genre of the text of Scripture affects the tone of the text. By tone, or spirit, we mean the author-intended emotive design of the author. Thus, a Psalm feels like a song, and prophecy feels like a prophet has spoken. This is somewhat subjective, but it is real. There is meaning in the emotion of the text. This is important for the reason that once we identify the tone, the text-driven preacher must ensure the tone of the text is the tone of the sermon. Read More »

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Wholly Bible: Why Genre Matters in Preaching

Riding on the City of New Orleans,
Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders,
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.
All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields.
Passin’ trains that have no names,
Freight yards full of old black men
And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.

Preaching a sermon demands a lot of thought. There is the exegesis of the text, which demands quite a bit of time and energy. Then there is the exegesis of the audience. How will the listener receive what God has said? In all of this, who has time to consider the genre in which the text was written? This is where Willie Nelson helps us. Read More »

church

Are unbelievers most helped by believers who trust the Bible?

A forgotten, but surprisingly prescient, approach to questions regarding the necessity and future of Baptist denominational identity can be gleaned from the words of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) when he addressed the American Baptist Publication Society’s 1881 meeting in Indianapolis.

Broadus, one of the founding professors and later president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary, titled his sermon “The Duty of Baptists to Teach their Distinctive Views.Read More »

PastoralPitfalls

Pastoral Pitfalls: 5 Guidelines for Personal & Church Finances

Every semester when I talk to my students about the many pitfalls that ministers need to avoid, I ask them to name the most dangerous areas where a minister could make a catastrophic mistake. Inevitably the number one answer is some sort of sexual sin. As we continue the conversation, especially if I ask them to give examples of reasons why someone could be fired or asked to resign from a ministry position, the next common answer is mishandling of money. Read More »

Text-Driven Preaching and Sermon Form

All preaching rests upon certain convictions about the nature of God, the Scriptures, and the Gospel. James Barr said he doubted whether the Bible itself, regardless of one’s view of inspiration, can furnish the preacher with a model for sermon form and content that could be conceived as normative.1 Such a statement is clearly informed by a less than evangelical view of biblical authority. Contrast this with Haddon Robinson’s statement: “Expository preaching, therefore, emerges not merely as a type of sermon—one among many—but as the theological outgrowth of a high view of inspiration. Expository preaching then originates as a philosophy rather than a method.”2 Read More »

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Stop, Drop, & Pray!

If you have walked in Christian circles for any amount of time at all, it has happened to you. An individual confides in you about a prayer need in his or her life and requests that you would pray for them. How do we respond? I’ve never heard anyone say, “No, I don’t have time for that, but good luck.” Of course not, we normally quickly respond that we will pray and go on about our business. Sometimes we remember the request and pray about it quickly, but I will confess there have been times in my life that I have completely forgotten about the matter and have been unfaithful in my commitment to pray for my brother or sister. In essence, I have lied to someone. I told them I would do something and failed to do it. Read More »

When a Man Is Not Really a Man

No MenWomen have been giving birth to children since the beginning of the world. Men, however, have apparently figured out how to accomplish this feat only recently. In fact, it seems quite popular these days for media outlets to plaster across their pages a headline that includes some version of “Man Gives Birth.” Read More »