Vision and Memory

"For anyone who lacks these things is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins." 2 Peter 1:9 (NRSV)

I've been thinking alot about spiritual growth. I think it is because I'm now a father and deeply concerned about setting an example for my kids. You simply can't fake your Sunday best 24 hours at a time. You've got to be the real thing in the presence of toddlers. They are little judges, standing at the door.

My bible reading slows down when I come to passages about sanctification and the Spirit-filled life. Peter's second epistle is one place I've spent some time this week. Peter was concerned about the growth of his congregants. In 2 Peter 1 he called them to be dilligent to grow and be fruitful. Verse 9 contains an insight about spiritual growth that is, I think, pretty important. Peter said that the spiritually lethargic lack both vision and memory.

We need vision to see the broader scope of life. Peter was dealing with false teachers that denied the future hope of Christ's second advent. It stunted their growth. We must live with an eye toward eternity. If we don't we get bloated on the banal.

We also need enough memory to recall the cleansing and freedom provided by the grace of Jesus. He has purged his people of every kind of darkness. Forgetting this leads to the kind of self-sufficient pride that kills any hope of spiritual maturity. I love the photo of the little duck being released into the wild. The little guy had been in an oil spill. Great effort and expense went into cleaning him up. He lives and grows because someone paid a price. The duck was not the kind of dirty splashing about in a pond could cure. He was dirty unto death, helpless in himself. He's now flying because of, well, grace. Ya been there?

I'm praying for God to help me remember and see. Will you join me?

"His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness..." 2 Peter 1:3a (NRSV)

Comrades, let us pray!

I met with a men's prayer group this morning. We get together every Tuesday at seven. I have really grown to appreciate the men and love meeting with them. This morning my friend Joe thanked God for his "comrades." I'm sure he said it before. It struck me as a powerful word. It spoke to our relationship and the common purpose of our praying. Praying truly is a revolutionary activity. Through it God breaks through walls and opens doors for the gospel to enter people's lives. Prayer is one of those things that makes Christians a little weird. Some people think we're talking to an make-believe friend. They got the friend part correct.

Comrades, let us pray!

"...gonna be brand new."

One of my friends was baptized this past Sunday. It was a happy moment for her, her family, and all of us at FBC Meridian. My friend and her husband have a beautiful little daughter. She had a conversation with Abby, our children's minister, about her mom's big day. She said, "My momma is gonna get dunked under that water and when she comes up she is gonna be brand new." That little girl has got some pretty good theology. Baptism marks the new life given freely by Christ. What a powerful symbol.

"For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Galatians 3:27 KJV


We will begin a Sunday night series in January called Sent. You will hear more about it soon. Until then, enjoy the somewhat cheezy shorts in this widget. There is also some really good information here about the study.

"Somebody left their Jesus."

Meredith picked up some chicken fingers from Raising Cane's and brought the kids by the church for lunch. We spread our dinner out on a small table in one of the children's Sunday school rooms and ate together. Molly Katherine and Wes ate with great speed so that they could play. While Meredith and I were talking Molly Katherine said something that really got me thinking about authentic faith.

She found a toy Jesus, of the stuffed animal variety, sitting on a table in the corner. Someone gave it to the church recently because they thought it would be sacrilegious to throw it away or give it to goodwill. We Baptists can be a little weird. When the Bird found it she said, "Somebody left their Jesus up here." I laughed.

I then began to think about all the Sundays that I have tried to leave Jesus at the Meeting House. He has a place in the sanctuary. I welcome his presence there but I often shut him out of my house. I'm not being mean about it. There are just times that I want to run my own home and be the master of my own life. I'm pretty sure it's called sin.

Did you go to church yesterday? Did you leave Jesus there? I hope not.

Bird and Groovy Give Thanks

Friday Night Lights

I went to the Meridian High football game with my friend Tyler last night. I was reminded why I love high school games as much as I do. I got a chance to see friends and I witnessed our community come together in common purpose for a few hours. The football was also great. There is something pure about high school games. I'm old enough now to see that the players are really kids. Tyler and I decided that we had reached the age in life that we could wear Meridian High caps and not look like the old goobers that still hang out in parking lots along North Hills Street. Sports are for kids. This is the reason that the Little Leage World Series is my favorite athletic event of the year. Forget the pagan Super Bowl! High School football is also about hope. You say things like, "I think Russell will play on Sundays one day." I think I'll probably watch Meridian play South Panola on MPB next week. Bird and Groovy will enjoy. We may get real crazy and drive to Jackson. It will be great!

Advent: Pray, Love, Manage, Serve

We are kicking off the season of Advent this week. I'm preaching Sunday night from 1 Peter 4:7-11. The first Sunday in the season is historically given to a homily or sermon about The End. Advent is about the coming of Christ (think Seventh-Day Adventists). The Nativity Advent will be celebrated in a month and Advent prepares us for that. It also prepares us for the Second Advent of Christ.

"Downtown" Christians don't talk much about the second coming of Christ. It's makes you look kind of TBN. The scripture, however, does talk about it. It always points to the practical "therefore" of the subject. Peter affirms the truth of Christ's second advent and points to four things we should give ourselves to until He comes. I've boiled them down to four words.


Come to FBC Sunday and I'll flesh these out for you. Have a happy Advent!

Be near me Lord Jesus - I ask thee to stay

We put up our Christmas tree last night. Meredith found out (Facebook of course) that a number of our friends had already put up their trees. The city of Meridian began decorating before Halloween this year. Why so early?

Here is my theory - This has been a tough year. If you are rich you got pounded in the stock market. If you are like me you got pounded in the milk and gas market (that's where I invest most of my money). We just came through a nasty election. People are ready for some good news. What news is better than Christmas? Easter!

November Reading

I'm re-reading a great book by R.T. Kendall. It's a good one for this time of year.


A friend told me recently that she had caught some flack for making a profession of faith and for presenting herself for baptism. Her friends believed that she was "reeled in" by First Baptist Church. I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now and have come to embrace the "reeled in" metaphor.

Jesus said that he would make his followers fishers of people. Christians are part of his fishing enterprise. To be reeled in by Christ is a wonderful thing. I remember Father Henry Hudson of St. Paul's Episcopal Church say that he once thought of church as a place where we go to fish for God. The Supper and the Sermon, in his view, were ways we try to hook God. Fr. Henry came to believe that these means of grace are really ways God fishes for our hearts. He pursues us.

I'm glad God hooked me and I pray he continues to use me to fish for people. I pray that you will join him in his work. It really is a good thing.

A Prayer for Election Day

I was asked to give the invocation at the Meridian City Council Meeting today. I'm thinking about election day like everyone else. This is what I prayed -


You are our creator, redeemer and sustainer.
You have demonstrated your love for this World by giving your very best so that we can live. We thank you.

We seek your blessing today for our nation. We are now voting for new leadership.

We pray for John McCain and Barak Obama. We ask you to grant them wisdom and grace. Their words and actions today will impact our lives and the future of our nation.

We pray for Ronnie Musgrove and Roger Wicker. They have fought a difficult and sometimes bitter senatorial race. Bring healing to the state of Mississippi and to their friendship.

We pray for all other candidates for office and the election process. May it be peaceful.

We seek your favor for our country. Our ancestors came here on different ships but we are in the same boat. Our future is linked. Make us one nation, under God, indivisible.

Bless this city and our servant leaders. Go before them as they act on our behalf.

We thank you for your faithful love and pray in your kind and holy name.


From Got to Get

I atteneded part of the Mississippi Baptist Convention this week. The highlight for me was a testimony given by Sammy Gilbreath of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Dr. Gilbreath has a terminal heart condition and does not know how long he has to live. He is a living example of the One Month to Live concept. He said that he has learned to: celebrate the promise of life, value spiritual blessings over physical things, value a clear conscience, and value remembering. The most powerful thing he said was that he no longers says, "I've got to..." He now says, "I get to..."
I'd like to live with that kind of joy and gratitude.


I once heard Anne Lamott say that there are only three honest prayers - Wow! Thanks! and Help!

I began the day with a big Wow! I got to the office a little after 5:00 this morning to work on the appendices for my doctoral work at Truett. I needed to find a verse of scripture for a teaching outline I was going to include so I googled the the words in search of the reference. I memorized Ephesians 2:8-10 when I was a child. I've known the words and reference for years. I simply could not put them together. I chalked it up to getting up really early but I was sharp in many other ways. God was trying to teach me something.

The first site that my google search took me was a blog written in 2007 by Howard Sloan the pastor of St. Paul's Reformed Church in Bedford, PA. I've included a picture of Pastor Sloan for you. He began his blog post in the following way -

"A group from our church is heading to Biloxi, MS to do hurricane recovery work. We will leave February 17th and return February 24th. Please pray for us. This is the devotion that I have prepared to be delivered in Biloxi."

Many of you know that my doctoral concentration is missions and evangelism. My research work deals with the practice of hospitality during hurricane evacuations. I really think that God got involved with my googling this morning to remind me that He is still in charge of things. I think people refer to this as a wink from God. I don't know about that but I was affirmed by His simple act of kindness. This is going to be a good day!

Current Reading

I am currently reading Kerry and Chris Shook's - One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life. I am thinking about using this material in some of our SS classes and think it is great. I'm also reading a series of sermons by Paul Powell under the title "The Night Cometh." The theme is the same. We don't have forever - we best start living now.

Sin and Our Relationship with the Holy Spirit

I am preaching a message from James 1:26-27;2:12 this Sunday titled, "Talk and act..." The big idea of the message is that our speach and action reveals the true quality of our faith. We need to talk and act like people that are expecting to be inspected by Christ.

I wanted to use a quote from a Pentecostal minister named Bill Johnson in the sermon but will not have room for it Sunday. I share it here because I think it helps us see how our relationship with the Holy Spirit makes a practical difference in our lives. The Holy Spirit empowers us to do all that God wants us to do for others and strengthens us to resist temptation. Here is the quote:

"Around twenty-five years ago I heard someone mention that if we would learn what it meant to "not grieve" and "not quench" the Holy Spirit, we would know the secret of being full of the Spirit. While that may be overly simplistic, this individual tapped into two very important truths that deal directly with the "character vs. power" trap.
The command, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit" explains how our sin affects God. It causes Him grief. This command is character centered. Sin is defined in two ways: doing wrong things, and a failure to do right things: "To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." Departing from the character of Christ in either of these ways brings grief to the Holy Spirit.
Continuing with this theme we hae the command, "Do not quench the Spirit." This mandate is focused on our need to follow His leading. To quench means to "stop the flow" of something. As the Holy Spirit is ready to bring salvation, healing, and deliverance, we are to flow with Him. Failure to do so hinders His efforts to bring us into the supernatural."

Presbyterian Catfish Day

The year if filled with wonderful holidays. We all love Christmas and Easter but many of you don't know about Presbyterian Catfish Day. Each year the folks at Jones Memorial Presbyterian Church in Meridian have a hugh fish fry to raise money for missions. This annual event is something of a holiday for me. Jones Memorial gave me my first job in the ministry. I will always love them for taking a chance on me. Go buy a fish plate this Saturday and enjoy the holiday!

8 Snowden Men

We've been in Florida for the last couple of days. I preached for my friend Will at Jay First Baptist Church in Jay, FL. You can check out the sermons using the following links...

In the Family - Galatians 2:20

Songs for the Journey - Luke 8:1-4

The Last Couple of Days

The last couple of days have been busy. Meridian is filled with people from the Coast and Louisiana. Meredith and some women from our church went to the local hotels yesterday to offer help and prayer. They gave away some info sheets that included my cell number. I fielded phone calls until about 2:00 last night. Most of the people were looking for information about local shelters. This was a simple way our church was able to connect with the people running from the storm.

Meredith returned to Laquinta Inn today to bring a little care package to some of her friends from Slidell. They had a baby and a 92 year old with them. Evacuations are simply not easy.

I spend a good portion of the day on the phone with relief workers and coastal residents. Our church just finished a home build project in Pearlington, MS. Over 100 homes in Pearlington took on water. I got Chris Bosarge on the phone about 7:00 tonight. He talked to his friend Bubba Bennett earlier today. Bubba weathered the storm in Pearlington and spent the day going around town in a flat-boat. The stop sign on Gin Road was covered in water. Chris' new house (our project) did not have water in it today but his inlaws house did. Chris, Missy and their two children (Christina and Codie) live with their inlaws. I talked to Mr. Scotty (Chris' father-in-law) and they are planning on going back tomorrow to survey the damage. Please pray for this family.

If you would like to keep up with some of the news in Pearlington check out This a blog maintained by a coalition of disaster relief organizations. The CBF of Mississippi is one of the coalition members.

I'll keep you posted on what I know!


Our trip to the Dominican Republic has been put on hold. We are planning our response to hurricane Gustav. Please pray for the Coast and NOLA. Pray for relief workers and all others touched by this event.

Domincian Republic Prayer Concern

A group of us are going on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. We will fly out of New Orleans on Monday. Please pray that those hurricanes behave!

Wes' new big boy bed

My dad and brothers and I built a toddler bed for my son Wes a few weekends ago. We used four wood bats that I had been saving for a project such as this. He loves his new bed.

Molly Katherine's first ballet lesson

My little girl had her first ballet lesson this week. She is growing up way to fast.

Scared of God Versus the Fear of God

Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin. Exodus 20:20

There is a clear difference between being afraid of God and fearing God. John Bevere writes about this in his book Drawing Near. He shares a story in this work that illustrates the importance of living here in fear. I'll share part of it -

I will never forget visiting a well-known minister who was in prison for fraud. I questioned, "When did you fall out of love with Jesus?" He looked at me and said without hesitation, "I didn't!" Puzzled I replied, "But what about the fraud and adultery?" He said, "John, I loved God all the way through it, but I didn't fear Him."

here in fear

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: I Peter 1:17 KJV

In the past few weeks I have given a good deal of thought to essential things. I don't think we have an endless supply of chances to do what we are called to do. We are passing time and time is passing. While we are HERE we do well to live in the FEAR of God. We don't need to fear God like we fear a wicked overseer. We do need to respect him as the holy creator he is. We are called to live for his glory. It is in this life of holy fear that find both wisdom and joy.

July Reading

I'm going to Baylor in a couple of weeks. I'll for sure be checking out David Dockery's new book.

The Big One

I have one clear goal. I want to glorify God. I know that sounds Sundayschoolie but it is true most days. I once thought people with clearly defined life goals were a little sophmoric. How could I join their tribe. I was so wonderfully complex that I needed to be defined in a number of ways or excape definition all together. I was the dunce. Wrapping life around a single core commitment is the only way to make sense of the complexity. It allows us to avoid bondage to fake freedom which make us unstable in all our ways.

I've been reading Galatians over and over lately. I've given the most time to the bio. stuff in the beginning. I used to skim that on my way to the theology. I'm learning that the best theology is found in the narratives of our lives. Paul's best theology is buried in his testimony. After sharing about the way Christ changed his life Paul said, "And they glorified God in me." What a statement. I'm driven by a desire to have people say that about me. I want them to see the kind ways God has dealt with me and think big of Him. I want people to see quality changes in me and attribute them to their true source. I want God to receive His Glory - because of me.

One of my main goals is to make Wes proud of his Daddy.

I took a bus full of women to the Deeper Still conference in Atlanta this weekend. During one of the sessions Kay Arthur talked about Moses and his encounter with God. She said that, "It wasn't the bush - it was the fire." She used that image to encourage humility. We are wilderness shrubs in the service of the fire. Any bush will do. That was one of the many "take aways" from the conference.

I also got heartbreaking news about the moral fall of a local pastor this weekend. He is a man I respected as a solid Christian leader. His church met in worship today and from all reports God was present in a powerful way. It reminded me that God doesn't need me or any one else to advance his kingdom. He will use us to bring glory to himself but if we fall he will raise up another. We are not nearly as important as we often think we are.

When I look at my kids and think about my ministry I really don't want to dissapoint them. I want to be a simple bush in service to the fire. Maybe we should all want this for ourselves.

Let us rise up and build.

We began our work in Pearlington this past week. God was good. We worked hard. Everyone had a great time.
Please pray for the Bosarge family as we work to complete their home.

April Reading

I quoted Phil Munsey during our bible study last night. Munsey pastors Life Church, a charismatic congregation down the street from Rick Warren's struggling little church in California. I don't agree with everything in this book but I was challenged and fascinated by it. I believe that it deserves a wide reading and hope others will give it a chance.

The Gathering @ Ben's - New Series

Living the Life: It's Not and It Is About You!

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39

We are beginning a new bible study series that focuses on the one life we are given to live. There are a number of very popular books in print now that aim at helping us live these lives. Sometimes the messages seem a little conflicted. How do we make sense of all this and really live the life? Join us as see what scripture has to say about it.

The Gathering @ Ben's
3213 Parkway Blvd
Meridian, MS 39305

Wanilla Baptist Celebrates 100 Years

Why Should FBCM Partner with the Mississippi Baptist Convention and other Christians to build a family a home on the MS Gulf Coast?

Building a house is costly. It takes a pickup load of TIME, TALENT, and TREASURE. Why would we want to do this? Here are some of the reasons I've come up with -

1. We can bless a family for generations to come. The family that we are to be partnered with are young. The couple is in their thirties with two children under seven. They are hard workers and could use a break. The Gulf Coast Baptist Association has selected them to get a home. The investment we make in this family could really make a difference for a long time.

2. We have have been blessed to be a blessing. Faithful members of FBC Meridian have given so that the church in this generation can be the Presence of Christ in our world. We have a holy trust to keep. We have mission resources that need to be invested in Kingdom concerns. God has given us strength. We should give him glory.

3. Rebuilding the Gulf Coast is now in the hands of Mississippians. Baptist groups and other organizations like Samaritan's Purse have left the coast. We are the ones left to do the ministry in the name of Christ. Part of our church's mission strategy is to invest in places that are under-served. That would now describe Mississippi.

4. There is a biblical precident for helping other Christians following natural calamity. This was a major project for the apostle Paul. He was an engine of evangelism in the NT and was also concerned with meeting practical human needs. We can follow his example.

5. Short term mission teams contribute to fellowship and discipleship. People often have life changing experiences working on short-term mission teams. A person's relationships with Christ and Christians are strengthened through the experience.

6. The Great Commandment serves the Great Commission. Serving in the name of Jesus opens doors for the gospel. People have already given thier lives to Jesus because of the home building ministry on the coast. Check out Gene Williamson's testimony on this blog.

6 and 1/3. This will be fun!

These are just a few of my scribbles. There are other reasons to participate in this ministry. Can you think of others?

Service and Evangelism on the MS Gulf Coast

We traveled to Pearlington, MS this week and met with the Williamsons. They have given their hearts to revitalization on the gulf coast. I asked them about the relationship of compassion ministries and evangelism. Here is Gene's answer.

FBCM Missions

We are going to Bay St. Louis today to finish planning a home build. This will be an ambitious project for our church and we need much prayer and support. Look for an upcoming post that explores the biblical and practical justification for this type of missional engagement. Pray for traveling mercies (I love that old prayer meeting phrase)!

Molly kissing Wes under the weeping cherry tree.

"You say cheese."

Jay Walking

I preached a revival in Jay, Florida earlier this year. During the meeting Pastor Will Rushing announced a community outreach event that he wanted to do in the community. The church left the building last Saturday and touched the community with the love of Christ. Way to go Will and Jay FBC!

Donkey Theology

I remember last Palm Sunday like it was yesterday. We all stood in the sanctuary of the Truitt Memorial Baptist Church and waved our branches. We sang and did all the things Chrisitians do on Palm Sunday. I preached the story from Matthew's gospel. I got to 21:6 and the words jumped off the page and hit me between the eyes, The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. I talked about those nameless disciples and the powerful example they set. The message sank in deep. We even had some t-shirts printed.

The disciples did what Jesus told them to do. I have come to call this donkey theology. The measure of our discipleship is seen in our simple obedience to the directions of Jesus. Maybe we should just listen to his mother, Do whatever he tells you. John 2:5b TNIV
Have a great Palm Sunday!

Groovy takes his first steps!

Living Like a Hippo

A group of us met a Ben's house last night for a bible study. We talked about Genesis 3 and played a couple rounds of Hungry Hungry Hippos. The principle problem in the Garden of Eden was taking. Grasping is still the big problem with the world. Many of us view life like a plastic hippo game. The one that grabs the most marbles wins. It's the great lie of the father of lies.

The Gift of Creation

The Gathering @ Ben's House will meet tomorrow night at 6:30. Last week we talked about the gift of creation. Some influential Baptist leaders have issued a declaration on climate change that you may want to check out.

Bubba Visits MTown

I went to see Bill Clinton speak at Meridian Community College tonight. Our democracy is amazing. Seeing a two term president speak at a small town junior college says something. In other parts of the world power is determined by the sword. In the US presidents visit hot JUCO basketball facilities (and other plain ole places) to ask for votes from people like me. Wow!


Vocation is one of the gifts of creation. We were given the earth to keep and till. Having something meaningful to do was part of God's intention for our lives. Here is one of my favorite quotes about vocation -

Vocation is where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need. Frederick Buechner

I hope you have a good weekend!

March Reading

My good friend Mark sent me this book a long time ago. I just found it in a stack of things we moved to Meridian. He sent me an email about it. I'll read it this weekend and ship it on back to Brandon. I've worked through about a half of it and think it is great. Eric Sandras has a Ph.D in psychology and is a Vineyard pastor.

The Trinity and the Gift of Community

Community was one of the gifts of creation. We are created in the image of God. Christians believe in the Trinity - God in three persons. This has a practical implication for us. Check out what theologian Millard Erickson had to say about this -

...the type of relationship that should characterize human persons, particularly believing Christians who have accepted the structure of intratrinitarian relationships as the pattern for their own relationships to others, would be one of unselfish love and submission to the other, seeking the welfare of the other over one's own.

God in Six Acts or "bible study at Ben's"

I had a great time with you last night. I appreciate Chris Dean locating the song "Propane". I hope it will help Ben and Dustin in their next marketing campaign. I look forward to seeing ya'll next week. Invite your friends!

We talked about the gifts of creation last night. Act I of God's story is about his good creation. We were created by God and for God. Check out Colossians 1:15-20. What are some implications of being created "for Christ"?

God in Six Acts

Welcome to the bible study! I will post devotional thoughts here. Have a great day!

GOD works through people!

Mac Barnes spoke to our deacons yesterday. Coach Barnes is one of the best high school football coaches in the state of Mississippi. He coached Meridian High for many moons and is now the head coach at Lamar School. The force of his message - "God works through people."

I spoke with my friend Gary this morning. He was asked by our pastor to speak in the mid-week service at our church. Gary is an investment guy. He is going to talk about investing in people. God works through people.

I think we need to place a little emphasis on the order of that sentence. GOD works through people. Here is a quote from Louie Giglio that I think is helpful -

When God invites us into His Story, assigning us various roles that are seemingly too big for us to carry out, His affirmation is always the same - I will be with you.


Feb. Reading

I am working on a bible study for 2osumpthings based on the story of God. Ole Louie does a good job with it and has encouraged me.


I lead a group at FBC Meridian called 1st Steps. This ministry is designed to introduce new members and inquirers to issues important to beginning a membership relationship with our church. We talk about basic theology, church polity, and the way God shapes each of us for service. I love meeting with 1st Steps and hope that I help in some small way.

The 1st Steps group that is meeting now has men and women from five different confessional traditions. The groups represented are: Southern Baptist, Presbyterian (PCUSA), Presbyterian (PCA), United Methodist, and Church of God (Anderson). Each person has added something to the healthy discussions. One of the main things we have talked about is baptism.

After many conversations and much reflection here are some of my thoughts about the issue.

Believer's baptism marks the new life in Christ.
I believe that baptism should occur after a person's conversion because it marks the new life given to us through the grace of God. G.R Beasley-Murray wrote in the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, We are one with him in his dying, in his burial, in his rising. Because of this fundamental reality baptism marks (or should do so!) the beginning of life by the grace of the Redeemer (a new life!), and the beginning of life in his way (a new kind of living!). Romans 6 is very compelling to me.

FBC Meridian has made baptism by immersion a requirement for membership.
The bylaws of our congregation read:
Article I. Membership
Section I. Reception and Dismissal of Members
A. Individuals may be received into the membership of First Baptist Church by the following means:
1. Profession of Faith and Baptism. Individuals professing faith in Christ and requesting baptism.
2. Statement. Individuals having come into a Baptist church by profession of faith and baptism, but who are unable to provide a letter of dismissal from that church.
3. Letter. Individuals providing a letter of dismissal from another Baptist church.
4. Reception from another denomination. Individuals having made a profession of faith in Christ who have been baptized by immersion in other Christian churches may be received into the fellowship. Those who have not been immersed come as candidates for baptism.
Our church is a congregational church and the congregation has embraced baptism by immersion.

Our position is in keeping with the Baptist tradition of a converted and baptized membership.
William Wilson Stevens wrote of this tradition, There is some diversity of opinion as to the method of a statement of Christian experience from applicants for membership, and of course mistakes are sometimes made; but in the main, and to the extent of human knowledge, Baptist churches earnestly adhere to this as one of their fundamental principles, viz., a converted and baptized membership.

I have a new respect and appreciation for persons from paedobaptist traditions.
I have had some beautiful discussions with fellow Christians about infant baptism in the last couple of weeks. These brothers and sisters in Christ confessed their faith in Jesus with boldness and love him with all their hearts. I am encouraged by the way they wrestle with the issuse and appreciate their deep love for God.

The issue is hotter now than ever because we live in a post-denominational world.
Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology once presented a compromise approach to baptism and church membership based on the practice of the Evangelical Free Churches. These churches accept both modes of baptism and do not require baptism for membership in one of their churches. Grudem's theology has been influential in this generation. Wayne Grudem has changed his mind. This change has been challenged sharply by his friend John Piper. Piper is a Baptist pastor that accepts the compromise position. Watching their conversation from a distance illustrates the complexity of this issue and begs for humility.

We can worship, share life, and serve together if we don't share full membership in the same congregation.
I am convinced now more than ever that Chrisitans can share life together in deep ways without absolute agreement on every issue of doctrine. Doctrine is important and we should maintain our distinctives but the unity of the Spirit is not contingent on uniformity of thought. I feel a connection of eternal value with those in our 1st Steps group that don't currently share the same view of baptism I do. I pray that we can work together for the glory of Christ. I would like them to think like I do about baptism but if they don't I look forward to the ways we can partner for the gospel. I pray that the interaction has been good for all involved.

Yes We Can!

Words have power. They have force and can move people to action. I was reminded of this last night as our family watched news on TV. When the presidential candidates began to show up on the screen my two year old daughter began to shout - "Yes we can! Yes we can!" Barak Obama got to her.

I probably will not be voting for Barak Obama but I am impressed at his ability to harness the creative power of words. Molly Katherine, Sen. Obama and Bob the Builder believe in the power of "can." Shouldn't all of us Christians embrace the power of language to extend the hope of the kingdom. I think we should.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

Two Big Commands

I ran across a little New Testament commandment that has been speaking to me from Friday night until today. Check this one out -

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life - Philippians 2:14-16a

Snow Day

January Reading

I started out my year with this one from R.T. Kendall. I would recommend it!
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