The MBC Pastor's Conference Report

Dr. Tony Lambert of Crossgates Baptist Church was elected as the 2008 Pastors' Conference President.

I think that the messages this year were among some of the best I have ever heard at the PC. Fred Luter, Fred Wolfe, James Merritt, and Steve Gaines all did a wonderful job preaching to preachers. Everyone seemed to be challenged and encouraged by them.

Fred Wolfe's message was awesome. He talked about the tradegy of the "offended spirit." The fictional older brother of Luke 15 had an offended spirit as did the flesh and blood Pharisees in the same chapter. They were angry, isolated, full of self-pity and quick to accuse. They were barren and joyless. Pastor Fred said that the cure for the offended spirit was spending time in God's presence. He illustrated his sermon with confessional stories about his struggles with the offended spirit and the healing he found in God's presence. I think we all needed what Fred Wolfe gave yesterday.

The conference was almost free of Baptist politics. The only exception was a few comments from Johnny Hunt who gave an otherwise wonderful sermon. I don't think most of the crowd got his digs; it's still 1975 down here for the most part. He talked about "bloggers that go online to talk about the temperature they like their brandy." The Baptist bloggers are boozers!? According to Hunt they are also on par with the dreaded Nicolaitans of Revelation 2:6. Hunt believes that the Nicolaitans were worldy, compromised Christians that lived close to the edges. "That's just what we've got now", he said. That's pretty tough stuff because Jesus hated the deeds of the Nicolatians and praised the Ephesians for hating them as well.

I think we should hate what Jesus hates and loves what he loves. However, I would not class the Baptists that opposed the alcohol resolution with the Nicolaitans. It's pretty clear from Hunt's tone the direction the SBC is heading in the next few years. Those opposed to the old hardline junta will be cast as boozin bloggers whose deeds Jesus hates. Feel free to hate them as well for you will be patted on the back.

I am looking forward to the next two days of convention. I hope to see you there.

Steve Gaines and the Gang

The MBC Pastor's Conference kicks off the 2006 convention today. I'll let you know how it goes.

Dizzy, Pepper, and Charlie Snowden

I am in Meridian, MS sitting in front of a TV with my dad and daughter. We just saw the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series. I am really happy for my grandfather Charlie. He is a Cardinal fan from the old days of Dizzy Dean and Pepper Martin. Go Cards!

Preaching Preview for Sunday October 29

Morning Worship
Series Title: Intense Life
Sermon Text: Psalm 28

Evening Worship
Series: Romans
Sermon Text: Romans 2:1-29

A quote to consider as you read these texts -
"Often the worst enemy of the gospel and of God's honor is sin in the lives of those who profess to be believers." Wayne Grudem

Off the Record: Commentary on the Journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention

This week's Record was again dedicated to the upcoming convention. You can't say the Record doesn't do its part in trying to beef up the crowd.

Dr. Futral wrote a very good piece on the principle of sowing and reaping. You should check it out. He looked at three laws and told a really funny story. The laws are:

1. You get more than you sow.
2. You get the same as you sow.
3. You always reap later than you sow.

A quote to ponder:

"I have lived long enough to watch families reap what they sow. I have known of folks who took their kids to church all the time. They had them there for every activity and made them stay through every service. The kids grew up with a bad attitude toward church and a distain for church leadership and the pastor. How does that happen? Well, they come to church for a little while on Sunday but the seeds that are planted all week long are seeds of criticism, distrust, and sometimes even hostility. When the crop comes in, it is not just a harvest of church attendance but it is shaped by warped attitudes." Jim Futral

Wednesday's Word: Pros and Cons, Fers and Agins, Yeps and Nopes

In reading through the book of Exodus one finds that following commands is an important part of a robust spirituality. In chapter 20 we read "you shall not" many times. We also read positive commands like, "Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy." From chapter 25-30 we read "you shall" over and over and over again. It is a blessed monotony. It is clear from Exodus that God is concerned with the brakes and the steering wheel, the pros and cons.

Seeing commandments as life giving is liberating. In the first chapter of Eugene Peterson's new work "Eat This Book" he writes, "Most of us carry around a handful of essential commands to keep us on track: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart...Love your neighbor...Honor your father and mother...Repent and believe...Remember the Sabbath... Be not anxious...Give thanks at all times...Pray without ceasing...Follow me...Go and tell...Take up your cross..." The list of life giving guidance is open to a good many more...s. Embrace God's commands. They will keep you on track.

A verse to consider: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27 NRSV

Preaching Preview

Sermon Text: Psalm 80
Series Title: Intense Life

"...give us life, and we will call upon your name!" Psalm 80:18b ESV

We have been exploring what the bible teaches about life as God would have it. Until this week we have focued on our individual lives. Psalm 80 deals with our collective life as the community of God. In this psalm the psalmist uses bodily metaphors to talk about God's interaction with his people. He seeks God's:


We will look at these on Sunday. I think they are beautiful!

Something to ponder: Have you ever fealt like our church could pray verse 4? "O Lord of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?" (ESV)

Off the Record: Commentary on the Journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention

The main (non BP) material in the Record this week is dedicated to the proposed 2007 Mississippi CP budget. I encourage all of you to read the guest opinion written by Scott Wiggers, chairman of the CP Budget Committee. If you do not get the Baptist Record and are a member of TMBC contact the church office and it will be sent to you.

I am struggling with one of the proposals. The SBC will get a 5.99% increase. This is in keeping with the general increase in the budget but it still hits me hard. I don't want to deprive missionaries on the field but the current climate in the SBC requires critical reflection on how MS-CP money is used.

Our church invests in the CP but we are also taking a more direct approach. We are directly supporting the Brodie Road Baptist Church in D'Iberville and have voted to directly support two church plants, the South Mountain Community Church (sub. NY) and Iglesia Esperanza (Pearl, MS). Mississippi Baptists may need to adopt this approach in the future.

Remember Ole Doc Causey and the state line?

Wednesday's Word: athletae Dei

St. Anthony of Egypt was fond of speaking of maturing Christians as the athletes of God. Contemporary spiritual writers like Richard Foster and Fisher Humphreys make use of this image to encourage growth in godliness. The Apostle Paul used athletic ideas to spur his protege Timothy toward growth. Tonight we will explore I Timothy 4:6-9. In this passage Paul points to three important elememts of physical and spiritual training.

1. Nourishment
2. Abstinence
3. Exercise

Join us tonight! Can you hear the Rocky music in the background?

Preaching Preview for Sunday October 15, 2006

Morning Worship
Text: Psalm 119:105-112
Series Title: Intense Life

"I am severly afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!" (Psalm 119:107 ESV)

The psalmist was going through a dark night. His life was in his hand, fragile. However, he was not without light. The scriptures impacted his past, present, and future as the Word of Life. Robert Davidson of the University of Glasgow, Scotland wrote:
"The darkness is threatening, but there is light, the light of the Lord's word. To this the psalmist has made a solemn and unbreakable commitment, while recognizing that he needs further instruction. However deep the commitment of faith, there is always more to learn."

Something to ask yourself -
Have you made a commitment to the Word of Life?
Are you still growing in your understanding?

Sunday Evening
Text: Romans 1:8-15

Off the Record: Commentary on the Journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention

Here are my highlights for the week:

Pastor's Conf. slated for October 30
The Record leads with a piece on the 2006 Pastor's Conference. I look forward to hearing Fred Luter and Fred Wolfe again. I have never heard James Merritt, Steve Gaines or Johnny Hunt in person. They are all Baptist "newsmakers" and will probably make some news at the conference. Another newsmaker, Dr. Jim Shaddix, will be leading the "Bible Treasures" portion of the convention. I was disappointed with his remarks at the Joshua Convergence and hope he doesn't politicize the convention. The Pastor's Conference has been the mouthpiece for the takeover/resurgence agenda in Mississippi. I'm hoping that it will just be a meeting of preachers this year. We'll see.

A new low for the pretenders
William Perkins wrote a great piece on Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. I was glad that he pointed out his Mississippi roots. My mother brought up Phelps on our last trip to Meridian. I told her he was from the M town and that he was "called" to his current "ministry" in a Meridian tent revival. I think Phelps and the Amish give us a good contrast. The Amish community has been a shining light for Christ. Phelps represents the twisted logic of sin that exudes from the dark spirit of man centered religion. Thanks Amish!

A peculiar set of standards
Kelly Boggs takes a shot at NBC for messing with the Veggie Tales. I may take ole Dr. Wildmon up on this boycott. The Veggies have saved my bacon on many long car rides with Molly Katherine. They should not be challenged by a two bit outfit like NBC. LET LARRY BOY SPEAK!! FREEDOM FOR BOB THE TOMATO!!!!

You Give Them Something to Eat: World Hunger Emphasis
Support this CAC emphais by working in your church's food pantry. If your church does not have one drop by ours and lend a hand.

Wednesday's Word: Our Integrative Theme

"We are a church family serving Christ and community." TMBC's Integrative Theme

"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." II Corinthians 4:5 (KJV)

I am making a commitment to preach on our theme every time we gather for a community business meeting. In the II Corinthians passage Paul asserted, "we preach Christ." "We" assumes a bound community of believers, a church family. "Preach" brings to mind a message for the greater community. The service and preaching are done for "Jesus' sake." Paul could have written our statement. It is taken from a number of biblical passages and represents sound commitments. Any Christian congregation could affirm it. The trick is to demand a kind of simplicity that excludes everything outside of it. I believe that if we will focus on loving Christ, our community and each other then we will have the type of integrity necessary for reaching our Jerusalem. I hope to see you tonight!

Preaching Preview for 8.8.06

Morning Sermon Series: Intense Life
Text: Psalm 119:25-32

In Psalm 119:25-32 the psalmist says that his life is, "in the dust." Eugene Peterson captures the sense of this passage in the Message, "I'm feeling terrible - I couldn't feel worse! Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?" When I read those words I can't help but hear the words of an old rock and roll song - "do-do do, another one bites the dust." There are times in our life with God that we simple feel like the LIFE Jesus gave us is bound up and in a tomb. During these time we often want God to change our circumstances. He often does. The vital thing to remember is that he always wants to change us. He wants to, "enlarge my (your) heart" (v. 32 KJV).

Read this section of the Psalm and list the ways God wants to enlarge your heart so that you can experience life as God would have it.

Evening Teaching Series: Romans
Text: Romans 1:1-16

John Avant and Ed Stetzer @ Catalyst

I am at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. Today I had the chance to hang out with Kevin Bussey and enjoy an amazing conference. I also attended a lunch at the Georgia Baptist Convention Building given by the North American Mission Board. John Avant and Ed Stetzer spoke. If the old gatekeepers of the SBC will just leave those guys alone we may be OK.

Avant and Stetzer spoke with authentic passion and humility. They stated that the role of the denomination was to support the mission of local congregations in the advance of the kingdom. Avant said, "The age of denominationalism is over." Stetzer added, "There is more biblical justification for you having a concubine than for us having a denomination." In my life and short ministry I can't remember denominational workers speaking this way. It was great! I left the meeting truly believing that NAMB could become a partner in ministry. I was also thankful for a free lunch (I have another baby on the way).

I think these guys have a good handle on the fruitful role denominations can play. What biblical role do you think denominations play?

Baptist Students, Eugene Peterson, and Private Prayer Language

Eugene Peterson has always been one of my favorite Christian leaders. I heard him speak today at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. His morning lecture was a call for us to became contemplative pastors. His evening was given to a large group question and answer time. It was during this time that he spoke to an issue presently confronting my denomination. Here is what happened -

A young woman presented hereself as a senior at the University of Mobile. She said that she was writing her thesis on "tongues." She asked Dr. Peterson why he used the phrase "private prayer language" in I Corinthians 14:4 of the Message. He responded by saying that he used "tongues" in other places. He went on the say that the glory of tongues is the mystery. Peterson was raised Pentecostal and told us that his heritage made him very sensitive about this issue. His sensitive pen captured well the words of Paul, "I'm grateful to God for the gift of praying in tongues that he gives us for praising him, which leads to wonderful intimacies we enjoy with him. I enter into this as much or more than any of you."

How sad that Southern Baptist workers are forbid a gift from the Father. A gift once enjoyed by the apostle Paul. A gift that leads to wonderful intimacy when practiced within the Pauline discipline. Dr. Peterson has a healthy attitude about this gift and is a wonderful example of a man who loves God with his mind AND heart. I think we should follow his lead and become sensitive about this issue as well.
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