Waiting for You in California • What Happens after the First Big Service?
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6 Waiting for You in California
John and Gini Mincy The church planter is standing on the shoulders of one who has already sown and watered seed.
10 Vocation, Vocation,
Vocation Randy Fox There is nothing that gives you more “staying power” than knowing you are where the Lord wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do.
8 What Happens
after the First Big Service? Bryan Brock As we cleared the hurdle of the first service I realized that there would be hurdle after hurdle until we reached the line of stability.
4 Mail Bag 5 On the Front Line God Gives the Increase John C. Vaughn
20 On the Home Front 24 Cogitations On Spirit Baptism Warren Vanhetloo
26 Ladies’ Circle Waiting for Jesus Claudia Barba
14 Planting Hispanic
Churches—Emphasis: California Rick Armstrong Like-minded missionaries could see new Hispanic churches started in a very short time.
Urban California Tim Sneeden Within our own borders lies our nation’s most profound mission field.
22 The Church
VOLUME 19 • NUMBER 4
27 Wit & Wisdom David Atkinson
28 Regional Reports Ken Endean
12 Raising the
Dead Randall Shanks The pastor who is thinking of going into a dying ministry must be willing to truly give his life for the sheep and not flee when the wolves attack.
29 The Evangelist’s Corner The Challenge of Not Fainting in God’s Work (Part 2) Jerry Sivnksty 30 At a Glance
The Books of Kings and Chronicles (Part 1) Layton Talbert
33 Newsworthy Robert Condict
Planter’s Wife Janice Snow I realized that I am not the one to fill every job.
35 Global Focus
25 Church Planting in
37 Chaplain News
Military Communities Ron Smith The privilege of reaching and pastoring those who wear the uniforms of our nation is nothing short of incredible.
We are grateful to Dr. John Mincy for his help with this issue.
The Best Places to Live in 2009 Pearson Johnson Bob Ellis
39 Behind the Lines
Standing Fast . . Striving Together . . . Planting Churches Tim Potter
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am just an ordinary person who lives in the “real” America in a state where there is no “good” separatist, Fundamental church available. We are Baptists by conviction, so that limits our visiting, but still—no churches where we can truly grow. We attend a small Baptist church where there is only evangelistic preaching and the music is Southern Gospel which often slides into CCM. They are dear, sincere folk, and individually I do not question their salvation. I realize from getting to know them that this is all they know, having no real teaching from the pulpit or encouragement to study on their own. I had the privilege of living in Greenville for nine years, where I heard wonderful teaching and preaching from my church. I had many godly friends and the privilege of being on Bob Jones’ back door step, able to avail myself of the many resources provided. My
husband and I grew in Greenville, and we have much to share with those who have not had the privilege. But now I feel that I have taken thirty steps backwards to the time when I was first saved in the South. All of this is to say how very much I appreciate my FrontLine magazines every time they arrive in the mailbox. They remind me that I am not the only “dodo” out there and encourage me to hold the line and to still believe that being separate and having Biblical musical standards is still important. I especially enjoyed the articles about seniors because I am one, and feel pretty strongly about not being put out to pasture. I realize your magazine will never be a “popular” magazine, but it is a lifeline for those of who live in “real” America. Thank you again. Deanne Pryor Cabot, AR continued on page 38
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On the Front Line A NOTE FROM THE PRESIDENT
God Gives the Increase
hurch planting” is a truly helpful term, suggesting cultivation, sowing seed, irrigation, and waiting for the harvest. A Biblical concept used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3, it makes the point that “God gave the increase.” I’m not sure when the term gained its current widespread use, but I’m thankful for it. There was a time when preachers talked about “starting a church.” “Starting” and “planting” suggest different imagery—think of starting a church . . . starting a fire . . . starting a fight. . . . Remember the days when someone entered your personal space with the direct question, “You trying to start something?” Say “planting” and you usually think “harvesting.” Think “starting,” and you might think of “finishing,” but you could think merely of “stopping.” We are more likely to remember that God gives life to a living thing when we talk of planting. A lot of Fundamental Baptist churches were “started” a while back with a mixture of faith and human ambition—the energy of youth driven by zeal without knowledge. Some that depended on human skill to get started still depend on human skill to keep going. But, thankfully, as in some marriages born in selfishness, many of those churches grew spiritually, developing maturity, wisdom, and Biblical balance. There is some truth in the old adage about wise decisions being based on experience, which is gained by making unwise decisions. Lessons learned in an infant church often bind the survivors together for life. I remember the first time I heard what was intended as a compliment on the rapid growth of our young church: “You folks are really setting the woods on fire!” All I could think of was the time my brother and I actually did set FrontLine • July/August 2009
the woods on fire. We were just boys out hunting, trying to smoke a squirrel out of a hollow tree on a Saturday afternoon. We had no idea how fast a handful of wet leaves could set an old dry tree on fire, or how fast that fire could spread. After the farmers had all gone home and put their chainsaws, rakes, and shovels away, Dad postponed his Sunday sermon preparation long enough to teach us how fast an oak board could set denim on fire. There is an article in this issue of FrontLine by a church planter’s wife who mentions a young couple who came to help. That young husband was the first baby born in our baby church. His mother and my wife were the two ladies who knew how to play a couple of hymns on the piano. We planned our song service based on which one of them had a behaving baby on a given Sunday. We had a business meeting to decide if we could afford to buy more offering plates. We unintentionally learned a lot about commitment by keeping our people on metal folding chairs for over a decade. What will those who have never planted a church talk about when they grow old? They’ll have no stories of building a lectern out of scrap lumber, of baptizing unsuspecting converts in forty-five-degree water, of making a loud point in preaching and causing all the babies to cry in unison behind the curtain. They won’t know about the folks who couldn’t find the building because they looked up the name that was printed on the hand-me-down hymnbooks. They’ll have no tale to tell about hauling an
upright piano from their mobile home to the motel every Sunday morning. Church planting has personal value beyond its outreach to the community. While fulfilling the Great Commission, young Christians learn that life does have an eternal purpose. Being part of a new church is like growing up, getting married, and raising children of your own. You’ve learned the foundational truths, and now, through trial and error, you learn the applications. The best family fellowship comes with laughter around the table about all the things that weren’t so funny at the time, just as some of the most valuable lessons come from finding God’s answers to things that were very frustrating at the time. Here in South Carolina, some say “SC” stands for “schedule conflicts.” A preacher could almost raise support and go into full-time conference attendance! In recent years we’ve had some unavoidable schedule conflicts with our brethren at the National Church Planting Conference at Grace Church of Mentor, Ohio. As we go to print, there is another conflict in the schedule for 2010, but there is certainly no conflict in our purposes. The mission of FBFI is “to provide a rallying point for Fundamental Baptists seeking personal revival and the opportunity to work with committed Biblebelievers in glorifying God through the uncompromising fulfillment of the Great Commission.” Our friends at the National Church Planting Conference have been doing the right thing in the right way for years, and the FBFI rejoices that God is blessing it. Don’t miss the article about them in Behind the Lines.
Lessons learned in an infant church often bind the survivors together for life.
John and Gini Mincy
hat is true about California has been true about most churchplanting situations: the church planter is standing on the shoulders of one who has already sown and watered seed. Church plants have family trees in the life of the church planter himself and in the culture of the area he has chosen to plant a church. Fundamentalists starting churches in California are indebted to men in the West—such as Arno and Archer Weniger—and to the pastors, churches, and colleges in which they have been saved, discipled, and trained.
California should be a place of interest to church planters. It is to be considered a mission field because Fundamental churches are few and far between (usually forty-five minutes to an hour or more apart). Being on a mission field also implies that you will need financial support, probably for at least five years. Of course, there is always a little fear to contend with in a place that is so diverse and expensive and “so far away from everything.” We need to feel the excitement, however, of ministering to the vast array of ethnic groups, the dissimilar philosophies of life and morality, and the wide range of demographics. In California there are vast areas of sparsely inhabited wilderness with one-room 6
schools, cities with concentrated millions, and everything in between. Some places in California are almost like a microcosm of America gathered in one place. There is often a refreshing openness to everything, with few traditional roots. And a church planter should consider the hugeness of it all, with a population, economy, and influence larger than that of most nations. In the midst of all the diversity there still exists the legal simplicity to plant new churches and establish Christian schools. And let us not forget about the Golden State’s strategic location on the Pacific Rim and bordering Mexico. Many of our churches have ties to the millions in the Pacific islands, Asia, and south of the border. In California we live in the midst of one of the greatest mission fields in the world! Does California often get a “bad rap”? Is it not wild, hard, and immoral? Should we not just pray for an earthquake to dump it into the ocean? Our answer would be that it is not any worse than most other places we know, and, even if it is, then all the more reason for good churches to be started. Yes, there are long daily commutes that may not allow you to keep the schedule of a close-knit community church such as you might find in other areas of the country, but there is always a way to minister effectively if we seek God’s wisdom. FrontLine • July/August 2009
And, by the way, remember that California is a place of oceans, mountains, rivers, woods, deserts, snow, lakes, beautiful scenery, and almost year-round rounds of golf! It is a place where, for much of the year, you can plan a church picnic and not have to worry about the weather. It is a place where you won’t be bothered by bugs and humidity, a place where during most months you can go play in the snow and return home to warm sunshine. What Should You Watch Out For? If you come, there are some things to watch out for: an attitude like, “I will show you guys how to build a church— better than you have ever seen it done.” We’ve seen a few of these come and go. Or, be careful about building your church on a one-string guitar, a one-message ministry. And watch out for the success syndrome, feeling that you have to reach certain goals in order to be successful enough to continue. Beware as well of the other side of the coin: “Let’s get a group and then maintain.” It seems that there are always those who “encourage” you with comments such as, “You won’t make it out there” (even “experts” might say such things), or “You’ll be out of the mainstream, cut off from the power base of Fundamentalism,” or “There is something wrong with those guys out there because their churches tend to be smaller.” Rest assured, however, that if God is leading you to start a church in California, there are going to be those who will greatly welcome what you are doing. They are looking for what you are offering. Sometimes there are places where already there are a few families looking for a good church. Many are interested in moral training for their children. Many are interested in the Bible. They are sometimes suspicious, so it is best if you are connected to a mother church or mission agency. In addition, people from good churches are sometimes transferred to the West, and God will use them to encourage you. And even though good churches are often few and far between, there are still many pastors’ fellowship groups meeting regularly and an active Fundamental Baptist Fellowship in the north and south. The closeness of the fellowship among pastors is probably due to the recognition that you must stand together, being such a small group. It does take a bit of the pioneering spirit, but not the independence of the Lone Ranger.
church business meetings, and the experience of “nothing” becoming “something” that makes an impact from now throughout eternity. Yes, in California the Lord will lead you to people such as Judy, who was praying that someone would knock on her door and lead her family to a good church. There will be people like Larry, Jim, and Sid, who were waiting for someone to come and start a good Fundamental Baptist church. There will be another Ron, who needed the Lord and help for dealing with his alcoholic wife. There will be Shirleys and Kens who walk through your doors looking for a place to be fed and to find Biblical fellowship and help in winning their families to the Lord. There will be the Everetts and Steves who have left their compromising churches and are seeking a church where they can serve with a clear conscience. There will be the joys of leading elderly family members to the Lord after many years of prayer from their relatives. You will experience people such as Allen—who by his appearance would seem to be the last person to trust Christ—who come to trust Christ and make a complete turnaround. You will find more like John, who was searching for something more real than the circus atmosphere of many of the churches he had tried. There will be people like Charles who are trying to find a church where the hymns are still sung and acceptance of a literal six-day Creation is upheld. You will find many young families who want good moral training for their children and find that Christ is the real answer for their family’s needs. You will find people such as Ron, who was in a good church in the Midwest and was transferred to the West and had been starving for the fellowship of the right kind of church. You will find them all, and more, waiting for you in California. As with anything else, make sure of God’s guidance: that you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing. God is still able to give specific answers to show you the way and even to change unwill-
And a church planter should consider the
Hugeness of it all, with a population, economy,
and influence larger than that of most nations.
What Will You Find There? If you are in it for the long haul, people will be saved and appreciate what you are doing, and you will see the miracles of the grace of God from the most unlikely sources: the most unexpected people trusting the Lord and changing their lives, significant gifts from people who were unaware that you had a need, strange movings of acceptance in the heart of city officials, electrifying unity in FrontLine • July/August 2009
ing hearts. He will use His Word to strengthen the conviction of His call upon your life. Be clear on your convictions concerning Bible versions, music, ecclesiastical associations, leadership standards, divorce and remarriage, and policies of church government. Be committed to plainly teaching and preaching the whole counsel of God. One thing is for sure, if you start a church in California and stay by the stuff, and if the Lord tarries, there will be some folks standing on your shoulders reaching the next generation. Dr. John Mincy is the founder and pastor of Heritage Baptist Church and Academy in Antioch, the second church that he and Gini have started since moving to California in 1977.
n April 10, 2005, we launched Life Point Baptist Church of Apple Valley, California, with about 120 first-time visitors from our community. With the mystery of the first service out of the way a single startling question confronted me: “Now what?” Over the next seven months that question was constantly in front of me, and answering that question in practice helped our church to transition from a church plant to a planted church. Before I share with you some of the things I’ve learned, let me take a moment to tell you how I arrived in Southern California as a church planter. I was born in California and lived here for the first seven years of my life; however, I did most of my growing up in southern Wisconsin. By the time I began college I knew that God was calling me into pastoral ministry. I graduated from college with a degree in Biblical Studies, married my wife Rebecca, and headed to a Fundamental Baptist seminary because someone once told me, “Part of God’s call to the ministry is His call to prepare for the ministry.” After four years of learning in seminary and in our sending church and a time of raising support, I settled down in Apple Valley with my wife and growing family. Our community is part of California’s “Inland Empire North,” also called the High Desert, a growing gateway into the greater Los Angeles area. Our plan was to start a church from scratch using a system of extensive phone calling that targeted the unchurched, unsaved demographic of our community. After about 30,000 calls and thousands of pieces of mail, we celebrated our grand opening with 120 of our neighbors, some unsaved, some unchurched, some unimpressed, and probably all undecided about whether or not this was the church for them. So, now what? Internal Pressure
In every church plant there is a period of time between the first service and a position of relative stability that normally takes from six months to a year. Throughout this time the church planter introduces the church to prospective members, sets the doctrinal foundation, scouts for potential leaders, and moves toward the official chartering of the new church. It was during this formative time that I noticed two key forces at work: pressure and principles. The first and most startling pressure I noticed was internal, the pressure within me to move away from Biblical principles. As I watched the room filling up that first Sunday, my overriding emotion was excitement about what God was doing. However, when the time came to report to our sending churches what God had done, the temptation to take the credit for myself was very real. Having a good turnout reflected well on me. Another internal pressure unfolded over the next several months that was the flipside of self-sufficiency: the feeling that I had to hold everything together. The phone program that we used is a great way to gather people, but the statistics show that only about half of them will continue with the new church. I found myself worrying every Sunday morning, “Who’s going to show up today?” There were specific instances where I could see an individual or a family slipping away, and I would wonder, “What can I do or change that will make them stay?” Over the course FrontLine • July/August 2009
of the first six months Life Point bottomed out at fifty-eight people, less than half of what we started with. I began wondering, “What am I doing wrong? What will people think?” The temptation had turned from self-exaltation to discouragement, and I felt the pressure to alter Biblical principles.
qualified as men. These are just a sampling of the pressures that are placed on the church planter to change who he is, what he believes, what he does, and how he does it, and this is the reason that it is so important to have principles to get you through the formative stage of church planting.
Who Is Building the Church?
The second pressure I faced was external pressure—not external in relation to those outside our church but rather pressure from people within the church directed toward me. This is where the California culture really exerted itself, specifically in a lack of conservatism, a lack of commitment, and a lack of doctrinal clarity. The lack of conservatism is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think about Californians or, more specifically, California Christians. While there may not be a perfect paradigm for worship styles and personal standards, each local church needs to have a basic framework for these important aspects of church life. When Paul wrote, “Let all things be done decently and in order,” he was primarily addressing the outworking of worship. I remember the first few months of our existence and our desire to teach some excellence in regard to music, attire, and our expectations for leadership. One family never came back after one visit because they described our worship as “culture shock.” A man who had been coming since the beginning engaged me in a stormy debate about how tobacco use should have no bearing on a man’s qualification to be a deacon; he never came back. And my wife and I still chuckle about the time I asked our ushers to please wear pants because shorts were too casual. The next Sunday one of our young ushers walked down the center isle wearing pants . . . and flip-flops. I also was not prepared for the lack of commitment to church. I had always thought that if God led believers to a church, then they would become members and strive to be faithful. I vividly remember hearing the question on several occasions, “Why should we become members? We like it here, but where is membership in the Bible?” Many California churches are loose assemblies of people where membership and baptism are de-emphasized. In addition, there seem to be very few churches that have more than one service, leading to a cultural understanding that going to church once a week is enough. Probably the most serious and difficult external pressure is the lack of doctrinal clarity. It was heartbreaking to have a leading couple in the church sit in my living room and talk about their disagreement on foundational truth related to the Trinity. The wife looked at me and angrily declared, “I will never believe that.” I have been asked if I do healings, if we are a “Spirit-filled” church, if I believe in all of the gifts (or just some of them), and why women can’t be pastors or deacons when they are equally as gifted and
There is one overarching principle of church planting that I strive to keep central at all times. I remind myself of it frequently, and my church has heard it from me countless times. It is the words of Christ in Matthew 16:18: “I will build my church.” When I am feeling internal pressure to exalt myself, I remember that everything has been built by Jesus; I am just His instrument. When I am tempted to feel discouraged, it encourages me to know that Christ will build His church; it’s a promise. When we have a high Sunday I say, “Thank You, Lord,” and when the attendance is low I think, “These are the people that God brought here today.” It is also important to understand that Jesus was commissioning Peter in Matthew 16:18. Christ would build His church, but He would also use Peter and the other apostles as part of His plan. And so, for our first seven months I had to place a high premium on obedience, prayer, Biblical preaching, doctrinal teaching, building discipleship relationships, evangelism, and personal visits. I had to solidify my own positions in relation to a Biblical understanding of miraculous gifts, women in ministry, qualifications for leadership, and God-exalting worship as opposed to mancentered entertainment.
I remember the first few months of our existence and our desire to teach some
excellence in regard to music, attire, and
our expectations for leadership. One family
never came back after one visit because they described our worship as “culture shock.”
FrontLine • July/August 2009
As I looked forward toward church planting, the main hurdle that I could see was the first service; however, as we cleared the first service I realized that there would be hurdle after hurdle until we reached the line of stability. Seven months later we celebrated our charter service, and just over forty people joined our church. By that time many others had fallen by the wayside, but the ones who were left were just the people whom God had for us. Because of our adherence to Biblical principles, the pressures of church planting never knocked us off course. I believe that period marked the transition from a church plant to a planted church, and it became clear that Christ was and is building His church here in Apple Valley. Bryan Brock is the founder and pastor of Life Point Baptist Church of Apple Valley, California.
Vocation, Vocation, Vocation T
he question I hear most often from young men who are planning to enter the pastorate is, “What keeps you going?” September will mark my twenty-fifth year at Faith Baptist Church of Anaheim, the church that I started in 1984. In addition to pastoring Faith Baptist Church, for the past thirteen years I have also pastored a second church in a nearby county, Fellowship Baptist Church in downtown Los Angeles. I never intended to stay so long in one location, nor can I say with certainty that I will always be in California. But I can definitely say, after twenty-five years laboring in the state where I was born and reared, that the ministry has been both a joy and an adventure. While God in His providence often does move men from one ministry to another, the purpose of this article is to explain how I have stayed in one place for so long. The most important factor when it comes to longevity in ministry is (to modify the real estate slogan), vocation, vocation, vocation! There is nothing that gives you more “staying power” than knowing you are where the Lord wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do. By “vocation” I refer to both the call to the ministry as a preacher and the area in which God places you to serve Him. The Call My call to the ministry was made very clear to me when I was a sophomore at Bob Jones University. Since I was a boy I had intended on pursuing a career in medicine. No one in our family had ever been a pastor. In fact, there were very few Christians in our extended family. After attending my first Bible Conference I remember experiencing the strange sensation that God wanted me to preach like the men I had just heard. I was able to put that thought aside until the Bible Conference the following year. Again, the same feeling came back, though it was far more intense than before. I knew I had to make a decision soon about this. 10
I agonized over God’s call to the ministry, fought it, tried to make some compromises with the Lord about it, but I couldn’t get any rest. I went to talk with then-university vice president Dr. Bob Wood about my struggle. I can still recall that when he reached for his Bible and read Jeremiah 1:4–10, I knew I had to yield to His call. I left his office with great rejoicing in my heart that I had finally surrendered to the Lord. I believe the Lord made that call so vivid to me because he knew I would need something to fall back on in the years to come. Deciding on a where to serve the Lord wasn’t nearly as much of a struggle as answering the call to preach. After I finished seminary the only real opportunity that seemed to interest me was the chance to plant a church in California. Church planting was just starting to come into vogue in those days, and I knew good churches back home were few and far between. I also knew planting a church would give me the opportunity to preach right away rather than just occasionally as an assistant at an established church. I moved back to my home area in Orange County and started the church on September 23, 1984. I worked as a carpenter for nine months, and then the church became self supporting. I have been there ever since. Seeing the Unseen Once the Lord’s call is settled, another very important ingredient for longevity is spending time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. In 2 Corinthians 4:16–18, the apostle Paul gives his “motivational speech” for ministering. Here he explains how he keeps from “fainting” and discouragement. He does not encourage himself by thinking about the miracles God has worked through him, his position as an apostle, or the churches he has planted. He says “we look not at things which are seen, but things which are unseen.” The things that really give the heart staying power are not visible to the naked eye. We get our strength from what is invisible. The Bible is a window into
FrontLine • July/August 2009
the unseen world. It is when we spend time in study and prayer that we will find ourselves refreshed when Sunday rolls around. This passage refers to this process as being “renewed day by day.” There is nothing more revitalizing than gazing at “things eternal.” This is not to say that a man cannot derive some encouragement from what we see in the ministry The same apostle who wrote 2 Corinthians 4 was often strengthened by the kind words and deeds of others. In the Book of Philippians Paul thanks the church at Philippi for the encouragement that he received from their expressions of love and concern as well as their financial assistance. The Lord uses outward blessings to strengthen His servants. There have been many times when I have felt re-energized by a timely phone call, a note of encouragement, or even a monetary gift. The point of 2 Corinthians 4 isn’t that it is wrong to receive encouragement from these things, but rather that it is wrong to rely on them for our encouragement. We thank the Lord for fruit when it comes, but our endurance has to be grounded in something more constant. An Ongoing Adventure Remaining at the same place for many years does not mean that ministry need become monotonous or dull. Every Sunday proves to be quite an adventure. As I mentioned, I have had the privilege of simultaneously pastoring two churches in California for many years. At 9:00 a.m. I have always preached to mostly “white collar” people (various levels of management, CEOs, attorneys, physicians, etc.) in affluent Orange County. These folks have developed into some of the finest Christian families I have ever known. After I am done preaching the first sermon, my wife and I get in my car and drive thirty miles—passing beautiful beach cities, Disneyland, and Angel Stadium—as we head toward the skyscrapers of Los Angeles. This church is in Skid Row, the worst section of the city. The service in LA starts at 11:00 a.m. The Sunday schools at both churches are running when I am on the road. When we arrive I lock my
car in a razor-wire-protected parking lot that the church shares with a pornographic costume warehouse company next door. At this church I preach to former convicts, outof-work entertainers, and fallen men from all walks of life. Rather than preaching to entire families, I am now preaching to a church made up entirely of men. There is a matchless satisfaction that comes from the opportunity to preach good tidings to the poor (Isa. 61:1). Though the sermons are the same for the Sunday morning messages, the application varies dramatically. For example, the application from Proverbs 6 about the “strange woman” at one church would take the form of a warning about Internet pornography, whereas at the other it would address the fact that there are prostitutes just around the corner. But people at both churches people are very good listeners, taking notes and highlighting verses. We sing the same hymns at both churches (though people at the church on Skid Row tend to sway a little more). My song leader at one church is a manager at Disneyland, the other is an ex-resident of Hollywood. Both congregations share a genuine burden for the lost, so whether we go doorto-door in the suburbs or do street evangelism in LA, we always have many people participating. By the time I preach the Sunday evening message, I will have preached three messages at two churches and traveled almost two hundred miles traversing four counties in Southern California. This doesn’t even count the midweek services. It is hard to believe it has been twenty-five years. How long I can physically keep up with this schedule, I do not know. In some ways, I wouldn’t wish this ministry on anyone. On the other hand, I wish I could bequeath to everyone the joy in ministry that I experience. It is the joy of knowing I am doing what the Lord has called me to do. It is my God-given vocation. A graduate of Bob Jones University and Seminary, Randy Fox was born in Berkeley, California, and grew up in Orange County. He and his wife Karen have five children.
International Baptist Missions A Ministry of Tri-City Baptist Church n Dr. Michael D. Sproul, President n Dr. Dave Sproul, General Director
IBM is currently
Evangelism Church Planting Baptist Beliefs Family
supporting 31 missionaries in 10 countries partnering with more than 100 Mike and Lisa Redick, Southeast Asia
Josiah Wambua, Kenya
www.tricityministries.org n 2150 E Southern Ave Tempe, AZ 85282 n (480) 967-8783 n email@example.com
FrontLine • July/August 2009
lanting a church in the Golden State is an intimidating proposition because of the high cost of living. According to reports, housing in the major metropolitan areas of California is from 212% to over 300% higher than the national average,1 and a family must make up to $31,000 per year more to live in California as opposed to Greenville, South Carolina.2 The cost of living, however, is not the only intimidating factor. California is full of very independent and broad-minded thinkers with little regard for tradition, formalism, and cultural heritage—at least as they apply to the protocols of Western culture. What many do not realize, however, is that California has a great Fundamentalist heritage, and in the decades after WWII independent Baptist churches were thriving throughout the state. The tragedy is that today many of these same churches are struggling with only a handful of people. While sad, the situation presents a great opportunity, for in the midst of the high cost of living in this dark and needy state there are doctrinally sound independent Baptist churches that already own property and have a faithful core. There’s literally a California goldmine of churches with people and facilities in place. The need is urgent, however, for if something isn’t done, not only will these congregations continue to die away but Baptists will also lose these properties forever. When considering this proposition one must understand that most of these churches cycle through pastors every few years. One church was on its twentieth senior 12
pastor in forty years! The universal problem seems to be that there is a controlling faction within the church, and the pastor is treated as a hired preacher or even as the enemy. This author witnessed one man state that his job was to “protect the church from the pastors,” and on another occasion heard a head deacon’s wife state, “We were here before you came, we will be here when you are gone, and we are not about to let you ruin our church.” The pastors have not been able to lead in a positive direction for years because these wolves have come in, scattered the flock, and taken over the fold. Rooting Out and Pulling Down Once one recognizes that sin is killing the church, it changes how one approaches these situations. God said to Jeremiah, “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”3 Before any building and planting can take place, there needs to be some rooting out and pulling down. While this may seem harsh, removing the wolves is the only way to rebuild one of these churches. A pastor, therefore, must understand his role as the shepherd in the church. In John 10:11–13 Jesus said that a good shepherd gives his life for the sheep, but a hireling flees in the face of wolves because he does not care for the sheep. The pastor who is thinking of going into a dying ministry must be willing to truly give his life for the sheep FrontLine • July/August 2009
and not flee when the wolves attack. If the pastor is serious about this, one of the following will happen: he will either have success in exposing and removing the sin (through repentance or church discipline), or the wolves will succeed in removing him. The ensuing battle for the sheep is very intense, and the shepherd will be tempted to flee to greener pastures—the actions of a hireling who does not love God’s people. Whether one gets to stay or is forced to leave, Biblical success comes through revealing the wolves for who they are. Where to Begin Once one has counted the cost and is willing to lay down his life for the sheep, what are some practical ways of going about raising a dead church? First, one must be willing to take the church as it is. Remember that there has been an inability for a shepherd to truly lead for years—maybe even an entire generation—and the resulting identity crisis is normal. When the church has turned, issues such as mission boards, styles of worship, and teaching policies can be dealt with in a Biblical fashion. Second, one must have integrity during the candidating process. It is dishonest for a pastor to misrepresent himself or his goals. One pastor assured the congregation that he wholly supported the church’s policies but began jettisoning them after being at the church less than three months. Honesty may mean that the church rejects the candidate, but this is far better than obtaining the pastorate disingenuously. Third, the pastor cannot abrogate his responsibility to lead the church. While it is a sin to lord authority over the flock,4 the wrong answer is to let a deacon or trustee control the church; it is false humility to allow him to do so by alleging congregational polity. Someone is leading the congregation, and the pastor must understand that God has made him answerable for that leadership.5 Fourth, the pastor must not minimize strife. It is a sin hated by God,6 and these churches have treated it as a lesser transgression than things such as drunkenness and adultery. The pastor must set the example of being easy to be entreated and in getting along with the flock, and he must confront those who will not live as peacemakers; the arguing must stop. Fifth, the pastor must not let sin go. Though it appears merciful to allow an ungodly reaction or situation to remain unaddressed, doing so only establishes a precedent for future problems. In one case a leader’s wife publically attacked the pastor with false accusations. At first the entire congregation was appalled, but as time went on, she won more converts, and eventually a number of families ended up leaving. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, and sin always spreads.7 Sixth, the pastor must model patient and gentle lovingkindness. Genuine sheep will recognize and follow a shepherd whom they know loves them but reject one who is hasty, demanding, and rude. Being firm does not mean getting ugly or ungodly, and the pastor must carefully avoid getting caught up in the sin of strife himself. Coming Alongside The preceding recommendations have been for those FrontLine • July/August 2009
men who may feel called to try reviving one of these churches. What can be done if one is not called to this? First, see this effort as equal to church planting. While it is true that these churches usually have a core group of members and debt-free buildings, it is also true that the facilities are outdated, the finances are in short supply, and the members are elderly. These congregations need the help of other churches as much as a church planter does, and it will only be as believers catch a vision for these congregations that the necessary resources will be invested. Second, get involved. Send mission teams to run a VBS or repaint the building; provide financial support for the pastor or church budget; raise funds to update or repair the facility. This tangible help is indispensible, and the moral and prayer support provided behind it is immeasurable. The pastor shepherding a reviving congregation can do so with greater confidence when he knows a whole army of saints is holding him up both physically and spiritually. Third, consider moving. Look for one of these churches, relocate nearby, and become a faithful worker in that ministry. They are in desperate need of godly laymen who will help; the pastor cannot do it by himself. The state’s high cost of living and spirit of progressivism have taken their toll, but California—with more than twelve percent of the national population8—needs independent Fundamental Baptist churches. Understand that they are already here, but many need reviving; the problems of housing, property, and an initial core group of people are already solved. Committed pastors are needed who are willing to bravely face the wolves, but they must be supported as missionaries with the prayers, monies, and workers of other established works. Will there be pastors who give themselves for the sheep? Will there be churches who use their means to rebuild these congregations? Will there be individuals who will leave the security of their homes to venture to the Pacific Coast and be a part of reviving one of these gospel lights? The opportunity is here and—in many cases—quickly passing; will it be taken? Will one say with Isaiah, “Here am I; send me”?9 Randall Shanks is pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church of San Luis Obispo and ministers on the Central Coast with his wife and nine children. After graduating from Bob Jones University and being ordained in the Ohio Bible Fellowship he began pastoring in California in 1996.
____________________ http://www.ask.com/bar?q=Cost+of+Living+Index&pag e=1&qsrc=121&ab=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.infoplease. com%2Fipa%2FA0883960.html 1
This is based on an annual income of $36,000. http://cgi. money.cnn.com/tools/costofliving/costofliving.html 2
1 Peter 5:1–4.
1 Corinthians 5:6, 7.
The stranger [“immigrant”] that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:34
Planting Hispanic Churches— Emphasis: California
n old adage was, “Go west, young man.” The pastor of our sending church joked that our family should have gone west back when we went eastward to Spain . . . and eventually God did lead us west to California after preparing us for ten years in Spain. Will others “come over and help us”? What God Can Do
lands. In one case, many families have come to the Lord in the same Mexican town. We have an international mission field—right here at home. Startling Statistics
“Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). “Latinos account for 50.5% of the total U.S. population growth, even though, as of mid-2007, they made up just 15.1% of the total population. . . . The Hispanic population has grown in almost 3,000 of the nation’s 3,141 counties” (Pew Hispanic Center, 10/23/2008). • There are over 45 million Hispanics in the US, including 19% of school enrollment.
• Miriam’s father was assigned to persecute Christians as the head of Fidel Castro’s Department of Religion in Cuba. When Miriam moved to California, she was saved and felt burdened for her father. So she paid a pastor whom her father had persecuted to return to Cuba, and he led her father to the Lord.
• There are 13 million Hispanics in California alone (36% of the state). Forty-seven percent of California’s children are Hispanics, and 52% of California is projected to be Hispanic by 2040.
• Dead bodies littered the streets in El Salvador after earthquakes, hurricane destruction, and civil war with Communist guerrilleros. Ernesto stepped around the dead bodies, fled to California, and was saved. Now he returns “home” at times to win to Christ relatives who are still being kidnapped and threatened.
• Of the 25 counties with the largest Hispanic populations in the US, eight are in California, including 4.7 million Hispanics in Los Angeles alone. (Ten other such counties are in the Southwest.)
• Luis was misled by Charismatic churches. However, in California he understood Biblical Fundamentalism, and he now plans to return to Mexico as a missionary to his loved ones. • After gangsters ran through her house in a gun battle, Maria moved here seeking spiritual help for her children, who were being tempted by gangs and drugs. Her children were saved, and her oldest daughter just graduated from Bible college. These are the stories (with names changed) of a few of the folks in our church. Most of them are soulwinners here, besides winning family members to the Lord in their native 14
• Almost half (48%) of all Hispanics in the US live in California or Texas.
Other states have high percentages of Hispanic growth, but California has the highest numerical growth (in the millions). Over half of California’s counties have over 40,000 Hispanic residents each. “The Hispanic population continues to be geographically concentrated. In 2007, the 100 largest Hispanic counties were home to 73% of the Latino population” (Pew Hispanic Research). Bilingual Church Planters and Teachers Needed “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isa. 6:8). FrontLine • July/August 2009
Pray for men who have the necessary vision, character, training, holiness, and gifts to be cross-cultural Hispanic church planters. If God would send more like-minded missionaries to California, we could see new Hispanic churches started in a very short time, besides helping the many inadequately trained Hispanic pastors who are now serving here. Even Sacramento, the capital of California with over 200,000 Hispanics, has only a few small mission points with inadequate leadership training. May God send other “paraclete” helpers to be soulwinners, disciple-makers, and encouragers (Rom. 12:8; Heb. 10:24); may He also lead good churches to host new Hispanic outreaches. We pray for more sister churches, missions, short-term missionaries, and bilingual teachers to work together in this great enterprise . . . especially in California. Christian lawyers and accountants are also needed to help new works incorporate legally and teach proper financial administration to Hispanic church planters. The Process of Hispanic Church-Planting: A Twenty-Year Plan Evangelism (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8) Because Hispanics are scattered throughout many small towns, we need to seek them out. However, they are not only more numerous in California and Texas but are in more concentrated areas. When we came to California, ten percent of Antioch was Hispanic, whereas it is now over twenty-five percent Hispanic. Some cities in California are over ninety percent Hispanic—with no gospel-preaching church. Hispanics come here with few friends and family and are often open to new friendships—and religions. Eighty percent of the people in Mexico are Catholic, but only 63% of those in the US are Catholic, since many are converted. Even more second-generation (US-born) Hispanics are saved. “The fields are white unto harvest,” but most are being “harvested” by Charismatic groups. Less than twenty percent of the converts are in Baptist churches. Where are the bilingual Fundamentalist church planters? Discipleship (Matt. 28:19, 20) Many outlets now have good materials in Spanish for evangelism and discipleship (e.g. Editorial Bautista Independiente, Centro de Literatura Cristiana). However, E. M. Bounds expressed the real need in Power through Prayer: “What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.” Youth Preparation of the Second and Third Generations of Hispanic Youth Youth discipleship clubs in the church have been an inspiring tool for teen Christian service preparation. Bilingual youth workers and Christian school teachers are greatly needed in California. A day before one young man from our church planned to leave to study for the ministry, he was shot to death. The church established a scholarship fund in his name to send FrontLine • July/August 2009
others, and now dozens of Hispanic young people from our church are being trained. But more needs to be done. Here are some suggestions. • Home Bible study “mission points” Some Hispanic home Bible studies are started for discipleship, others are evangelistic, and some become “mission points” that will form other churches. Perhaps, if you come to California, your home could be used as a “mission point.” • Establishing Hispanic churches and pastoral training centers Bible studies for Hispanics in an American ministry are a wonderful way to begin an outreach to Hispanics. However, the group will seldom prosper as God wants until they are enabled to have their own self-supporting church to reach their Hispanic friends. Surveys find that about ninety percent of Hispanics in the US only go to churches with Spanish services (“Changing Faiths,” Pew Hispanic Center, 2007). • Hispanic Ministerial Institute Last year we began a monthly Hispanic Ministerial Institute to train men from some small Hispanic mission churches in a three-hour radius around us. Hundreds of Hispanic men desire such training. Institutes and seminars must be offered throughout the West to train them in regular or modular classes, whether in local churches, in colleges, or online. • Materials in Spanish Bible institute materials—such as those produced by Oremundo Ministries in Mission, Texas, and others— offer DVD courses to help if there is not a Spanishspeaking teacher available in your area. Planning for the Future • Pray for bilingual Bible teachers to travel, write, translate, and produce online materials. • Train ministerial students (especially those with a Hispanic heritage) for this ministry in the West. • Train and send Hispanic believers as missionaries to Hispanics in the USA, to Spanish-speaking countries, around the world (to Moslem countries, Africa, China, India, etc.). Hernando, Miriam, Maria, Luis, and Ernesto’s children in our church in California represent millions of Hispanic children who need to be discipled to be the next generation of missionaries. We pray that future American churches planted in the West will host Spanish outreaches, then send out Spanish-speaking congregations . . . and Hispanic missionaries. “Who will go for us . . . ?” Dr. Rick Armstrong serves as a missionary to Hispanics in California and as coordinator for Hispanic ministries under GFA. His wife, Shirley, leads ladies’ meetings, teaches, and helps in youth work. They have five children.
15 15 7
etween the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada Mountains lies the Central Valley—the heartland of California.1 It is the agricultural center of the state and grows more than fifty percent of America’s produce.2 If the bumper crops of delectable almonds, avocados, and oranges grown in the Golden State were ignored and left to rot in the field, some would consider it a moral outrage. And yet, such is the case with the spiritual harvest fields of California, home to four of America’s most populous urban centers—greater Los Angeles (17 million souls), San Francisco Bay Area (6 million souls), San Diego metro area (3 million souls), and the greater Sacramento area (2 million souls).3 Within our own borders lies our nation’s most profound mission field, white unto harvest for New Testament church planting. The Choosing: Why Plant a Church in Urban California? In Acts 1:8 our Lord foretold that His disciples would be witnesses for Him. That wit-
ness was not only to be local (i.e., Jerusalem) and international (i.e., “the uttermost part of the earth”), but also national and regional (i.e., Judea and Samaria). Churches today often focus upon their Jerusalem and skip to the uttermost parts while neglecting those territories within their own national borders, but beyond their ability for effectively making disciples.4 There are several considerations that make the above-mentioned metro areas a compelling “Judea/Samaria” for the missionary church planter. Evangelism. If California were a country, it would be the thirty-fifth largest in the world by population.5 Numbering 36.5 million,6 one out of every eight people living in the US resides in California, with over 75% of them in its urban centers.7 Only one-third of these souls attend any type of church.8 These figures are of much greater magnitude than the two or three thousand in Capernaum on whom the Lord had compassion when He described them as “multitudes . . . [of] sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
FrontLine • July/August 2009
Cultural Impact. From the Silicon Valley in the north to Hollywood in the south, trends in entertainment, fashion, and technology often begin in cosmopolitan California then spread outward and eastward to the suburban and ultimately rural populations of our country. California’s cities are epicenters not only of culture but also of worldly fads that we warn our young people to avoid. And yet it is in just such major cities of the ancient world that God enabled the apostle Paul to impact the culture of his day at its source with a bold witness of the gospel while living separate from its corruption. Foreign Missions. Without getting a visa and without crossing national borders, a church planter to urban California has the opportunity to reach the world. Twentysix percent of California residents are foreign born.9 (That number is 41% in Los Angeles.10) There are two-and-a-half million college students in California11—many of them from the closed countries that we expend great effort and resources to reach. The world is coming to these cities for jobs, for education, and to experience the American dream. God has placed this vital mission field in our own backyard; the American church would certainly be remiss before our Lord to neglect such opportunities. The Challenge: What Difficulties Exist for Planting in Urban California? There are many negative generalizations about California’s cities that can dissuade prospective church planters and their lay-partners from considering her as a field of ministry. High expenses, crowded living, leftist politics, worldliness gone amuck—these are all challenges, real or exaggerated, that keep the average Bible-centered Christian from residing in the Golden State’s metropolises. The pejorative natter about “the land of fruits and nuts” has created a prejudice that, at best, disregards the remnant of Christians whom God has placed there and, at worst, denies California the labor force of witnesses due her— thus condemning millions of souls to a Christless eternity. But for the Fundamental Baptist to whom God has endued a divine love for souls and for their California brethren, the negative perceptions of California comprise a Biblical motivation to go to her cities and co-labor with God’s remnant to reshape California’s neighborhoods, revive her thinking, and redeem her people with the light of God’s Word. In spite of the culture that surrounded them the Corinthian Christians were exhorted not to faint but to remember their supernatural transformation by God’s Spirit into the likeness of God’s Son, and “by manifestation of the truth commending [themselves] to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2). If we abandon our country’s most populous state because we don’t like the behavior of the people who live there, we have forfeited the power of the gospel entrusted to us. How many mission fields in the world would we attempt to evangelize if this were our criterion? When missionaries answer the call to a foreign field, they often do so against their natural desires for a nice home in a relatively conservative and safe environment
FrontLine • July/August 2009
with the best Christian schools for their children. They look to the Lord alone for direction and choose to give the next generation the testimony of a sacrificial life, distinctly different from that of their morally upright yet unsaved neighbors, where God is clearly the source of their provision and protection. In the same way, when considering the call to urban church planting in California, one should ask: If God cannot provide for me in California, can He really provide for me anywhere? And if I will not trust God to preserve my family in California, what does that reveal about whom (instead of Whom) I am really trusting? After counting the cost, the answer is clear that God has promised to provide for our every need, and His promises will not fail us. “My God shall supply all your need” (Phil. 4:19) regardless of whether you are in Africa, China, or metropolitan California. Charting the Course: How Does One Get Started in Urban California? Hudson Taylor exhorted Jonathan Goforth as he was headed to the North Honan province of China, “You must go forward on your knees!”12 No good work for Christ shall be done in California or anywhere else without much time in earnest prayer. Nonetheless, much of the practical pioneering work has been done, and a Fundamental church planter starting out today has resources available to him that even ten years ago would have been scarce. Some of God’s servants have caught the vision and have paid the price to open the door for this frontier effort. For example, a number of churches are developing their mother/daughter church planting philosophy and are focusing on California. Bible colleges, universities, and seminaries are presenting California to their student bodies in hopes that not only will God call church planters out of their midst but that scores of their graduates will seek God’s leading in helping a fledgling work. In addition, several organizations now exist for the sole purpose of recruiting, supporting, and sending church planters throughout America. Mission boards such as Gospel Fellowship Association and Baptist World Missions and others are coming alongside local churches as they send out church planters in the will of God. Evangelists who have seen the spiritual wilderness are spreading the Macedonian call throughout the church to “come over . . . and help us” (Acts 16:9). For those who answer God’s call to help church planters in California’s large cities, there are creative ways to defray the exorbitant cost of living. For instance, many positions exist in cities for part-time resident managers who render their services in exchange for rent in apartment complexes. Such an arrangement also affords the new Californian the precious opportunity to learn city living and to make contact with and understand the burdens of their city-dwelling neighbors. Conclusion If the Lord is moving your heart to support, assist, or get involved in California urban church planting, know that there is a legitimate need and that that need is great. So the next time 17
you hear someone sneer about the fabled “big one” one day breaking off California at the San Andreas Fault and sinking it into the Pacific, have a bit of righteous indignation and let your heart be moved with compassion for these precious souls for whom Christ died. Graciously encourage the speaker to pray that “the Lord of the harvest . . . will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38). And while you are at it, why not ask the Lord if you might be the answer to that prayer?
United States Census Bureau as found on www.wikipedia.com. For more information see website of Dr. Dave Barba of Press On! Ministries: www.ipresson.com. 4
Derived from Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/ population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf and found on wikipedia.com. 5
U. S. Census Bureau Quick Facts: www.quickfacts.census.gov/ qfd/states/06000.html. 6
Tim Sneeden served as associate pastor of Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco until being sent by HSBC to San Diego to plant Metro Baptist Church (www.metrobaptistchurch.net) this coming fall. He and his wife, Eileen, are currently on deputation with Gospel Fellowship Association Missions.
Encyclopedia Britannica Online at www.britannica.com/ EBchecked/topic/89503/California/278655/Land. 1
Encyclopedia Britannica Online at www.britannica.com/ EBchecked/topic/89503/California/79252/Agriculture-forestryand-fishing. 2
Table of United States Metropolitan Statistical Areas from the
Encyclopedia Britannica Online at www.britannica.com/ EBchecked/topic/89503/California. 7
U. S. Census Bureau Quick Facts: http://quickfacts.census. gov/qfd/states/06000.html. 9
10 U. S. Census Bureau Quick Facts: http://quickfacts.census. gov/qfd/states/06/0644000.html.
CA.gov Post Secondary Education Commission: http://www. cpec.ca.gov/StudentData/50StateGraph.ASP.
From Bill Fietje letter.
February 18–27, 2010 ($1598*) Experience ten days of serious Bible study with Dr. Craig Hartman, Dr. John Vaughn, and by special arrangement, one of the most sought-after guides in Israel. This tour is limited to pastors or other ordained leaders, and wives. Call Shalom Ministries at (718) 232-8233 to request a reservation. *Price includes roundtrip airfare, motorcoach, guided touring, fees, entrances and tips, first class hotels, breakfasts and dinners. Full refund for those hosting a group within 15 months. Reservations held by priority of $500 deposit and photocopy of ordination certificate. Itinerary and trip brochure (pdf) available at www.shalomnyc.org and www.fbfi.org.
FrontLine • July/August 2009
Traveling? Vacationing? Moving?
The traveler’s church finder. Pastor, you may submit an online application to list your church. Code: FL
Baptist Home Missions Founded in 1969
Church Planting in North America Planting New Baptist Churches Rescue of Churches in Decline Inner-City Church Planting For more information contact:
Baptist Home Missions P.O. Box 176 • Efland, NC 27243 662-275-3806 firstname.lastname@example.org www.baptisthomemissions.org
FrontLine • July/August 2009
Further your education. Further your career. Further your ministry. For 50% less. For a limited time, CCC is offering a 50% discount on your first semester when you A L U M N I enroll in the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership program of study.
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On the Home Front FBFI NEWS AND EVENTS
2009 Meetings October 5–6, 2009 Wyoming Regional Fellowship Green River Bible Baptist Church 800 Homestead Green River, WY 82935 307.875.4405
October 19–20, 2009 South Central Regional Fellowship Community Bible Church 401 East Park Avenue Norfolk, NE 68701 402.371.5000
October 22–23, 2009 South Central (Texas) Regional Fellowship Westside Baptist Church of Houston 3883 Lakes of Bridgewater Drive Katy, TX 77449 281.492.3448 • 832.573.7843
October 26–27, 2009 New Mexico Regional Fellowship
November 12–13, 2009 Northern California Regional Fellowship
Scripture Baptist Church 440 Elk Drive Las Cruces, NM 88007 575.642.3607
Cornerstone Baptist Church Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 925-825-4787
October 26–30, 2009 Caribbean Regional Fellowship
April 12–14, 2010
Calvary Baptist Tabernacle PO Box 3390 Carolina, PR 00984 787.750.2227
South Regional Fellowship Boones Creek Bible Church 1528 Old Gray Station Road Johnson City, TN 37615 423.477.3011
November 9–10, 2009 Southern California Regional Fellowship
June 15–17, 2010
90th Annual Fellowship Red Rocks Baptist Church 14711 West Morrison Road Morrison, CO 80465 303.922.8301
Camp Ironwood Newberry Springs, CA 92365 760.272.1350 firstname.lastname@example.org
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INSPIRATION FOR THE PASTOR’S STUDY
Hold fast the form of sound words—2 Timothy 1:13
First Partaker The Preacher’s Heart F
or nearly ten years now I’ve found great blessing in storing especially insightful or inspirational thoughts in a compact, spiral-ringed binder small enough to fit in my pants pocket. When I read something that I wish I could remember, I type it up on lined sheets of paper that fit the binder. Then when I walk or while I’m driving, sometimes when I’m waiting for someone to arrive or whiling away the time on a long flight, I reread these notes over and over. Generally I work at committing them to memory. There are now many more sheets of treasured quotations or brief personal Bible studies than can possibly fit into my binder all at once. So I’m compelled to file many of these sheets and then rotate them in and out of the binder throughout the year. Recently I’ve been resurrecting choice comments about the indispensability of the heart to all right Christian living, especially to preaching and pastoring. I find that my earliest notes about the minister’s heart come from a book I read over thirty years ago, and from which I typed up several 8½-by-5½ sheets of memorable comments. I’ve just recently reentered them on the smaller pages that fit the binder so that I can enjoy them again and again in the future. Doing so has prompted me to share some of these in the hope that they may be something of the blessing to others that they are to me. The first begins with one of the most famous statements in all of church history on the groping hunger of the human heart for God.
Our Hearts’ Only Rest
You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
Bring . . . the Books—Key books for the pastor’s study . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Straight Cuts—An exegetical study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Windows—Themed sermon illustrations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 FrontLine Pastor’s Insert • July/August 2009
“The husbandman This line is one of the opening prayers in Augustine that laboureth must of Hippo’s (354–430) spiritual be first partaker classic, Confessions. Although of the fruits” Augustine is officially ven(2 Tim. 2:6) erated as a saint by Roman Catholicism, the remarkable story of his genuine conversion to Christ (related at length in Confessions), his subsequent passion for Christ, and his understanding of justification by faith alone have endeared him to true believers as well. Who can fail to appreciate the penetrating insight of his first prayer? Or of what follows a few paragraphs later? Who will enable me to find rest in you? Who will grant me that you come to my heart and intoxicate it, so that I forget my evils and embrace my one and only good, yourself? What are you to me? Have mercy so that I may find words. What am I to you that you command me to love you, and that, if I fail to love you, you are angry with me and threaten me with vast miseries? . . . Say to my soul, “I am your salvation” (Ps. 34:3). Speak to me so that I may hear. See the ears of my heart are before you, Lord. Open them and say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” After that utterance I will run and lay hold on you. (Confessions, I, i, v)
Our Hearts Offered
July 10th of this year marked the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. His Institutes of the Christian Religion (1526) is second only to Philip Melanchthon’s Loci Communes Theologici (Common Topics in Theology, 1521) as being the oldest Protestant systematic theology. Whatever one may think of Calvin’s understanding of predestination (which he doesn’t take up until over 900 pages into the Institutes), it cannot be denied that even after all these centuries he remains one of the four or five most influential pastor-theologians in the long history of the church. Not only the Institutes but also his commentaries and printed sermons continue to 1
be widely circulated in many languages. The commentaries, especially, are treasured by almost every branch of the Christian church, whether its creed subscribes entirely to his system of theology or not. This is due largely to the scrupulous accuracy with which Calvin attempted to handle the Scripture. Although Calvin rarely spoke of himself, on one of his last days, surrounded by ministers, the dying Reformer confessed the testimony of his conscience to the principled care with which he had approached Scripture. I have not falsified a single passage of Scripture, he said, nor given it a wrong interpretation to the best of my knowledge. . . . I have always faithfully propounded what I esteemed to be for the glory of God.
A heart offered promptly and sincerely. If there’s such a thing as a “secret” to being serviceable to God, that must surely be it. Nothing can substitute for it. The first and foremost condition to even being a Christian is to believe in thine heart (Rom. 10:9). True Christians have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which they heard and received (Rom. 6:17). And, following hard on the heels of that first ardent response, all right religion is a matter of the heart: thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart (Matt. 22:37); draw near with a true heart (Heb. 10:22); be slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (Eph. 6:6); and love one another with a pure heart fervently (1 Pet.1:22). Most of his contemporaries and many of those who have since used his commentaries agree with his assessment. For instance, one weighty confirmation comes from a surprising source. Next to the perusal of the Scriptures, which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries . . . for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the Library of the Fathers; so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent gift of prophecy. 2
The author of this superlative recommendation? James Arminius (1560–1609), the Dutch theologian whose name came to be forever associated with the rival soteriology that crosses swords with Calvin’s. Even John Wesley, whose rancorous attacks on George Whitefield over Calvinism so unfortunately divided early Methodism, nevertheless confessed, I believe Calvin was a great instrument of God; and that he was a wise and pious man. We don’t often find ourselves in complete agreement with other men on every theological point. Even the magisterial Reformers themselves didn’t agree with one another in all things. But when it comes to Calvin, there’s at least one aspect of his example from which all can take inspiration. Calvin believed that on the human level it was the key to whatever spiritual understanding any theologian or preacher obtained. I’m speaking of the seal and motto which he designed for himself. Its centerpiece is an extended hand, lifting up a flaming heart. Around it is scrolled in Latin the words, I offer my heart to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely. A heart offered promptly and sincerely. If there’s such a thing as a “secret” to being serviceable to God, that must surely be it. Nothing can substitute for it. The first and foremost condition to even being a Christian is to believe in thine heart (Rom. 10:9). True Christians have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which they heard and received (Rom. 6:17). And, following hard on the heels of that first ardent response, all right religion is a matter of the heart: thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart (Matt. 22:37); draw near with a true heart (Heb. 10:22); be slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (Eph. 6:6); and love one another with a pure heart fervently (1 Pet.1:22).
Our Hearts Brought to Delight in God
To our constant dismay, we find that keeping our hearts in the love of God (Jude 21) is the most difficult work we have to do. Alas! It is a nearly insuperable problem! Lord, it is my chief complaint that my love is weak and faint (William Cowper). John Owen (1616–83), probably the greatest theologian among the English Puritans, was especially concerned about this grievous inconstancy that afflicts the best of the Lord’s people. Volume 2 of his collected Works concerns communing with each person of the Godhead distinctly in love, grace, and consolation. In it he addresses the problem and offers ways of dealing with it, including the following assessment. The nub of his counsel is that Christians give too little thought to God as their loving Father. Owen maintains that to learn any other truth about God, what he calls every other discovery of God, without keeping His fatherly love in view, may actually distance our hearts from Him and thus leave us unfulfilled and troubled. Here is the way he explains it. Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than FrontLine Pastor’s Insert • July/August 2009
that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God—that there is still an indisposedness of spirit unto close walking with him. What is at the bottom of this distemper? Is it not their unskilfullness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love? So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Put then, this to the venture; exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say, believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after awhile, to keep at a distance for a moment. (Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Chapter 4, 2, (2), in The Works of John Owen, II)
The Heart of the Preacher
Charles Haddon Spurgeon preached a sermon (December 11, 1887) on “The Heart: A Gift for God.” It’s based on Proverbs 23:26, My son, give me thine heart. Though Spurgeon was preaching to all of his church, he directed some of his most pointed applications to preachers. “My son,” says God to every preacher, “give me thine heart.” It is one of the first and last qualifications of a good workman for God that he should put his heart into his work. The heart must be set on fire. The heart must be set upon its design. See how a child cries! Though I am not fond of hearing it, yet I note that some children cry all over: when they want a thing, they cry from the tips of their toes to the last hair of their heads. That is the way to preach, and that is the way to pray, and that is the way to live: the whole man must be heartily engaged in holy work. . . . God knows that in his service we shall be miserable unless our hearts are fully engaged. Whenever we feel that preaching is heavy work, and Sunday-school teaching after six days’ labor is tiresome, and going round a district with tracts is a terrible task—then we shall do nothing well. Put your heart into your service, and all will be joyful; but not else. (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, XXIII, 663) Some of the most searching admonitions to pastors ever published come from the pen of yet another FrontLine Pastor’s Insert • July/August 2009
English Puritan, Richard Baxter (1615–91). Ill and unable to keep an appointment to address a gathering of ministers on a “Day of Humiliation” in December 1655, Baxter sent his intended charge to them in a document. It was later published under the title The Reformed Pastor. By “reformed,” Baxter was not referring to a kind of theology, but to a kind of heart. The pastor, Baxter argued, often stands in need of a “revived” heart. The first thirty or so pages direct the pastor’s attention to his necessary oversight of himself. It includes the following self-confession. I confess I must speak it by lamentable experience, that I publish to my flock the distempers of my own soul. When I let my heart grow cold, my preaching is cold; and when it is confused, my preaching is confused; and so I can oft observe in the best of my hearers, that when I have grown cold in preaching, they have grown cold too. . . . O brethren, watch therefore over your own hearts: keep out lusts and passions, and worldly inclinations; keep up the life of faith, and love, and zeal: be much at home, and much with God. If it be not your daily business to study your own hearts, and to subdue corruption and to walk with God—if you make not this a work to which you constantly attend, all will go wrong. (The Reformed Pastor, “The Oversight of Ourselves,” Section I, 2)
It’s simply impossible to obtain truly spiritual insight into Scripture apart from a sanctified heart. Another self-confession that I have in my binder concerning a preacher’s heart comes from the American Puritan Cotton Mather. At the time he recorded the following in his diary he was assistant to his father, Increase, in Boston’s North Church. My Spirit was in Agonies this Day, when after my Confession of Sin, I found my Heart yet unbroken. I cried unto God, that He would embitter sin to me, and give me a just sorrow for my being so sinfully Sorrowless as I am. I concluded, “And Lord, I hope thou hast now taken away my Delight in Sin. My Heart would abhor it and resist it. My Soul does not like it. I think it is thus with me. If it be not thus, Lord, let me know it. Search me, try me, see if there be any way of wickedness in me. If I have done Iniquity, or if I delight in doing it, show it me and I will do so no more. I would give thee my Heart, and Love, and Soul, and all that I have, or am, or can. I am like the man with the withered Hand, essaying to do it. O my Lord, Help me in this my Resignation.” (Diary, October 1681) 3
I also like a further entry of Mather’s which consists of just one line. He thanks God for giving him a tender heart and then clarifies what he means by “tender.” He observes that in his case it is one that is not able to live quietly under the smaller Neglects of God, which the Generality of Christians give way unto. That’s worth pondering!
The Heart in the Study
It’s simply impossible to obtain truly spiritual insight into Scripture apart from a sanctified heart. (For a thoroughly Scriptural and stimulating argument of this thesis, read John Owens’ The Causes, Ways, and Means of Understanding the Mind of God as Revealed in His Word [The Works of John Owen, IV].) Alexander Whyte (1836–1921), minister of Free St. George’s in Edinburgh, Scotland, for half a century, stresses this necessity in a statement that I first copied out over thirty years ago. It is the heart that makes the true exegete; that is to say the true expositor, the true annotator, and the true commentator on the Word of God. A Hebrew scholar can read the Hebrew Old Testament, and a Greek scholar can read the Greek New Testament, and the English scholar can read the whole English Bible. But the best reader of both the Old and New Testament is the man who brings his whole heart to bear upon the book of God. The eye sees that only which it brings the power to see. And the mind reads only what it brings the power to read. And then the heart both sees and reads and feels what it alone has the power to see and to read and feel. And that is the love of God as that love is written, as with a sunbeam, on every page of the Divine Book. God has his own Book written for us out of his own heart, and the more of God’s heart any man has in himself, the better able will that man be to read for himself, and to draw out for other men, the whole mind and the whole heart of God from the Book of God. As face answers to face in water, so does the heart of God answer to the heart of man; and, again, so does the heart of man answer to the heart of God in the sacred writings. In other words, it is the heart that makes the truest and every way the best expositor of the Word of God and the best annotator thereupon. (quoted by Wilbur Smith in Chats from a Minister’s Library, 111–12) This last spring, while reading an ordination charge preached in 1711 by an earlier Scottish minister, Thomas Boston (1676–1732), I was encouraged by statements of his that are very similar to Whyte’s convictions. The sermon is entitled “A Heart Exercised unto Godliness Necessary to Make a Good Minister.” This is necessary to give a man insight into the mind of God. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Mark Minnick is pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, where he has served on the pastoral staff since 1980.
him, and he will show them his covenant” (Ps. 25:14). Heavenly truths appear certainly in another luster to the exercised soul than to others. And the interruption of this exercise will make the great things of God’s law appear even as a strange thing to them, who before have tasted the sweetness of them. When the heart is sealed, the Bible will be found sealed too. If they be not sensible of it in the time, they will be sensible of it after the veil is taken away. An exercised heart is one of the best commentaries on the Bible. The heart makes the best oratory. . . . It is exercise unto godliness that makes a man speak seasonably, and to the cases of the people; and he that is most exercised about his own heart, bids fairest for opening up the hearts of others; for as face answers to face in water, so doth the heart of one Christian to that of another.
The Preacher’s Heart and Prayer
One last emphasis regarding the minister’s heart is especially convicting. Praying makes the preacher a heart preacher. Prayer puts the preacher’s whole heart into the preacher’s sermon; prayer puts the preacher’s sermon into the preacher’s heart. . . . A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon. (E. M. Bounds, Power through Prayer, Chapter 9) Why then do we not pray as we ought? More often? More fervently? More believingly? Alexander Whyte addressed this issue in words that chill my very blood whenever I read them. Well, at bottom and to begin with, there is some absolutely unaccountable alienation of our sinful hearts away from our Maker and our Redeemer. There is some utterly inexplicable estrangement from God that has, somehow, taken possession of your heart and mine. There is some dark mystery of iniquity here that has never yet been sufficiently cleared up. There is some awful “enmity against God,” as the Holy Ghost has it: some awful malice. . . . The thing is far too fearful to put into words. But put into words for once, this is what our everyday actions say concerning us in this supreme matter of prayer. “No; not tonight,” we say, “I do not need to pray tonight. I am really very well tonight. My heart is much steadier in its beats tonight. And besides I have business on my hands that will take up all my time tonight. I have quite a pile of unanswered letters on my table tonight. And before I sleep I have the novel of the season to finish. . . . ‘Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.’” (quoted by Wilbur Smith in Chats from a Minister’s Library, 110–11) So, preacher, Keep thy heart with all diligence [or, “above all keeping”], for out of it are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). FrontLine Pastor’s Insert • July/August 2009
Bring . . . the Books O
ne of the greatest suggestions I ever received came during my student years while preparing for ministry. One of my homiletics professors suggested making a regular habit of reading sermons by great preachers. Over the years, I have found that suggestion to be one of the most profitable and spiritually enriching things I have done in ministry. Of the many books containing sermons that are in my library, the little work entitled The True Estimate of Life is perhaps my favorite. Published in 1897 as part of the Northfield Echoes series, this work is a compilation of nine sermons preached by G. Campbell Morgan at the famous Northfield conferences hosted by D. L. Moody. The book was out of print for many years until it was reprinted in the 1950s. It is available through a number of websites and used book stores. As a devoted fan of all things Morgan, I have read quite a number of his sermons. In my opinion, these nine rank among his finest pulpit moments. The first message, “Paul’s Estimate of Life,” is worth the price of the book. Morgan takes for his text the familiar passage “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Morgan’s message, “Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?,” comes from a difficult text in John 5:1–14 where the crippled man at Solomon’s Porch is made whole. Though Morgan does not deal with some of the interpretational difficulties in the text, he goes to the heart of the passage in the following statement: Our Lord looks upon this man as he lies there powerless in the porch, and going up to him says: “Wilt thou be made whole?” See what that question means. Notice that the Lord stands outside this man’s personality, in the presence of this man’s need, and shows him that He is limited in the man and by the man alone. “Willest thou to be made whole?” Christ wants to get that man’s weakness and make it strength; He wants to get that man’s disease and transform it into health. But until that man recognizes his own deep need and limitation, and desires to be brought out of that limitation, the Lord Jesus is unable to help him. So the Master begins with the question. “Willest thou to be made whole?” The question for every single soul that needs healing is, first of all, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Just as long as we are contented with the limitations of the sin in our hearts and lives, just so long as our Lord is standing outside and cannot come in to give us the blessing that we need. There must first be a deep sense of need and willingness on our part to take that blessing which the Lord Jesus is willing to bestow. FrontLine Pastor’s Insert • July/August 2009
The True Estimate of Life A brief message, “The Divine Government of Human “. . . when Lives” (Deut. 1:6), is packed thou comest, with powerful and practical bring with thee theological truths designed to . . . the books” stir believers to confidently (2 Tim. 4:13) follow the Lord’s direction in life no matter how surprising it might be. Morgan observes, “If it is a fact that God governs my life and your life, then He will disturb us; He will disturb us in order that we may make progress; and He will disturb us that we may make progress along certain definitely marked lines.” Morgan preached that God’s direction comes at the most opportune time for God, which may not always appear to be opportune from our vantage point. When pointing out God’s instruction to Israel to move away from Horeb and take their journey toward the Promised Land, he observes, Imagine the stir that must have been created in that camp when the word came, “Ye have tarried here long enough in this mount.” Imagine how tents would be struck and camels loaded throughout the whole of the camp. The people who had been living there for a little more than a year were suddenly rooted up and ordered to move away. Think how at the sudden proclamation of that word of God all social and family arrangements had to be set aside. That word touched every tent and touched every soul, and wherever families had arranged to meet together at a certain time for social intercourse, the whole plan was swept away. The divine voice was sounded, “Ye have tarried long enough, and no engagement is of sufficient importance to hinder the divine word. Tents must be struck immediately.” All the minor arrangements of everyday life, important in their place, must be set on one side, because the word of the King is supreme and is sufficient in itself to set aside every arrangement that these people have made. These brief excerpts fail to do appropriate justice to the power and impact of this delightful compilation of sermons. Those readers fortunate enough to find a copy of The True Estimate of Life are in for many wonderful blessings as they experience a fresh encounter with sermons preached before any of us were even born. Happy reading!
Dr. Sam Horn is vice president of Ministerial Training and dean of Graduate Studies at Northland International University in Dunbar, Wisconsin. He also serves as senior pastor of Brookside Baptist Church in Brookfield.
“The Temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17)
or those of us who grew up in Fundamentalism, hearing a sermon about a Christian’s body being the temple of the Holy Ghost was a normal experience. Preachers have often preached 1 Corinthians 6:19, warning Christians to avoid destructive habits such as smoking, drugs, and drinking. These kinds of applications are valid secondary applications of 1 Corinthians 6. Yet they have been so common that they have influenced our understanding of another passage earlier in the book, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17 metaphorically refers to Christians as the “temple of God.” However, in this case Paul is not thinking of the individual bodies of Christians when he mentions the “temple of God.” The context of the passage is the factionalism that was taking place in the Corinthian church. The Corinthians were dividing themselves into groups following various Christian teachers: Paul, Peter, and Apollos. They were behaving as if Paul, Peter, and Apollos were competing Greek philosophers who were seeking philosophical adherents, when in reality Paul and his fellow workers were all servants preaching Christ (1 Cor. 3:5–8). The factionalism of the Corinthians was damaging the church; it was causing unnecessary divisions. Paul uses a couple of metaphors to refer to the Corinthians. He calls them “God’s husbandry” (field) and “God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9). He and his fellow laborers that ministered at Corinth were the workers or laborers who worked in the field of God and who built the building of God on the foundation of Christ (1 Cor. 3:10). Continuing the metaphor, the Scriptures teach that if anyone builds on the foundation of Christ he should be careful how he builds. According to verse 12, ministers can build with enduring quality and materials (gold, silver, and precious stones) or with shoddy workmanship and materials (wood, hay, and stubble). Paul teaches that the fire of God will ultimately test the building quality of those who minister. “The supreme test for a building in a Hellenistic city was fire; the same is true for ministry” (David Garland, 1 Corinthians, 118). The question then arises, what is the building or temple in this metaphor? It seems impossible in the context for the temple to be the individual bodies of believers as it is later in 6:19. A look at a key word in this passage will help. The key word is “you” or “ye.” Paul says, “Ye are God’s building” and, later, “Ye are the T. J. Klapperich is the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winter Garden, Florida.
temple of God” (1 Cor. 3:9, “Rightly 16). In the original, the word is a second-person plural, for dividing which modern English has no the Word such distinctive equivalent. of Truth” Sometimes people will use col(2 Tim. 2:15) loquialisms like “y’all,” “yous,” or “you guys” (depending on the regions of country) to clarify a second-person plural. However, the Elizabethan/Jacobean English of the KJV makes the plural clear. In Elizabethan/ Jacobean English, “you” and “ye” are always plural. The singular, in contrast, is “thee” or “thou.” Those who are familiar with the KJV should take note of those differences; they are often important. The combination of Paul’s metaphor and the use of the second-person plural to refer to all of the Corinthians point toward “the temple of God” being the church in Corinth. This opens up the meaning of these verses. Paul is teaching that the local church at Corinth is God’s temple, and he takes that seriously. “Because it is God’s temple anyone who fails to react rightly towards it is guilty of no light sin” (Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians, 67). In fact, the passage gives a very clear warning: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:17). “It is a severe warning. He has real destruction in mind, and those who destroy God’s temple will also be destroyed” (Garland, 120). This passage teaches that local churches—the assemblies, not the buildings—are the temple of God. They are founded on Christ and built by God’s servants. God takes any attacks on His temple very seriously, to the point that He will destroy the one who destroys His temple. This warning is too often overlooked. Many times folks in our churches, and pastors themselves, take the local church too lightly. How many churches are destroyed through factionalism? How many are split by internal, selfish political agendas? How often does loyalty to some distant preacher or ministry lead to the destruction of a Biblical local church? In Fundamentalism we know the dangers of smoking and drinking, but we are often unaware or unconcerned about the danger of damaging local churches. We must be very careful, because to damage or destroy a Biblical local church is to make oneself God’s enemy and to put oneself under God’s judgment. This is a serious matter indeed. We ignore this warning to our own peril. FrontLine Pastor’s Insert • July/August 2009
his a short story is based on an old sermon illustration. Though it is a fictitious rendering, it has been repeated many times in real life. Jack was on his way home for the first time in twenty-five years. He remembered the last day he had seen the old building. He was much younger then. He had grown up in that church. His best memories were of the missionaries who preached there. He could see Pastor Jenkins now—his eyes burning as missionary after missionary reminded the congregation of the call to the world. He remembered the teens in the youth group meeting each Sunday night before evening service to pray for missions. How Jack had longed to be old enough to be a part of their number! He wondered how many of those kids were still burdened for missions today. He should have kept up better. He remembered how fast that time went. He was just a kid wishing he could be a part of the activity. Then he was in the midst of the activity, and the burden for reaching the world with the gospel message was so real it consumed his thinking. He remembered the missions conference when Pastor Jenkins hung the sign in the back of the auditorium: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” That was the week he finally surrendered to be a missionary. In the back of his mind he had sensed God was calling him, but that Sunday he knew for the first time that God wanted him to be a missionary. Then he was off to Bible college, with only brief visits home now and then. He remembered how feeble Pastor Jenkins looked at his commissioning service, and he wasn’t surprised to learn of his homegoing while he was in language school. Pastor Jenkins may have been feeble, but he was still sharp, and Jack remembered with a thankful heart how he stopped a line of questioning at his ordination counsel. Jack remembered wondering how he should answer the question on predestination. His thoughts whirled! It seemed that the question grew wings as one man after another added his spin on it. Pastor Jenkins had placed a reassuring hand on Jack’s shoulder and said, “This question has been debated for decades, and we on the counsel can’t even agree on the answer. I don’t think it’s appropriate to have this young missionary drawn into it. Jack, why don’t you tell them about your burden for the Congo.” FrontLine Pastor’s Insert • July/August 2009
Where There Is No Vision It was that same hand that “To every preacher of Jack remembered now—heavy, yet comforting on his shoulder as righteousness as well as the deacons and Pastor Jenkins to Noah, wisdom gives laid hands on him that next day the command, ‘A winand commissioned him to be dow shalt thou make in their missionary. What a weight the ark.’” of responsibility and sense of Charles Spurgeon confidence they laid on him that day. Then there was the memory of the people standing in front of that old vibrant country church waving goodbye, the last-minute prayer with Pastor at the airport, and then he was gone. That was twenty-five years ago now. It had been hard not to be able to go home when his parents had died suddenly in the accident, but they were buried in the churchyard by the time word got to him. Besides, the work was thriving, and there was no one to take his place. He had received letters from the ladies’ missionary society for some years, but they began to dwindle. It had been three years since he had heard anything. As he rounded the corner he was devastated by what he saw. The building was faded, with white paint peeling from its warped siding. Some of the tall, narrow windows were broken and ugly. The grass was wild and unmowed. Jack walked up the tilted stairs and peered in the window on the door. He was not surprised to find that it was unlocked. No one had ever locked the doors to that church. He could almost hear the voices of the congregation singing as he walked down the squeaking wood floor of the center aisle. Some of the hymnbooks were still in their racks, but the dust of disuse was thick. Jack was confused. How could this happen? He remembered such life in this room, and now it was if he were walking into a mausoleum. He climbed up the creaking steps to the old ornate pulpit, ran his hands over its dusty top, and turned to look back at what used to be. Then he saw it! On the back wall, the sign that had been put up years ago in the height of zeal was sagging and broken. The part remaining on the wall spelled out what had happened to the life of the church: “no vision, the people perish.” The Hebrew word for “vision” means “oracle or prophecy from God,” or simply “divine communication.” Its primary meaning is a revelation of the divine word 7
often used in conjunction with a prophet. The verb was also used in the sense of perceiving God and His works. A third meaning is an inspection that “sees through,” something more than an outward observation, or to gaze intently. It is a narrowly used word reserved primarily for a genuine encounter with God and His Word. Our response to the injunction of this verse should be, “Speak Lord, for Thy servant hears!” F. B Meyer wrote in Our Daily Homily, What a difference it makes to our teaching and preaching where there is no vision! The people perish for want of seers of those who can say with the apostle, “That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you also, that ye may have fellowship with us.” It is not difficult to know whether a poet or painter has a vision. If he have, there is glow and passion in his work. And it is not more difficult to detect in the accent of the speaker on divine things, whether he is speaking at secondhand, or as the result of direct vision. This vision of God was vouchsafed to Moses and Elijah and the apostle Paul. Concerning the latter God said, “He shall be a minister and a witness of things which he has seen.” This is our only qualification for teaching others; not intellect, nor imaginaJeff Musgrave pastors Highlands Baptist Church in Littleton, Colorado, where he and his wife, Anna, have served for over twenty years.
tion, nor rhetoric, but to have seen the King and beheld the pattern on the mount. For such a vision, on our part, there must be humility, patience, and faith, a definite withdrawal from the life of sense, and a definite fixedness of gaze on the things that are unseen and eternal. But on God’s part there must be revelation. “It pleased God,” said the apostle, “to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him.” The apostle said, “I could not see for the glory of that light.” A party of mountain climbers was divided one dull morning in Switzerland; the majority thought that it was useless to attempt the mountains due to the thick fog. A few who started anyway soon got beyond the low-hanging clouds, spent a day in the heights under marvelous skies, and returned at night, radiant, and overflowing with what they had seen. Ah, speaking is easy when one has seen!” May God give us all hearts to spend much time gazing into the mirror of the Word of God and seeing there the face of our dear Savior. It is only by gazing long into His face that we can begin to show the world what He looks like as we begin to reflect more and more of His blessed character. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not” (2 Cor. 3:18–4:1).
FrontLine Pastor’s Insert • July/August 2009
SPIDERS ON THE WALL and a snake on the floor? You never know what you’ll find on a foreign mission field, but one thing’s for sure—you’ll find experience. Each year Bob Jones University provides short-term mission opportunities through summer mission teams. Just last year, BJU sent out 11 teams to mission fields around the world. From Australia to China, from Ecuador to Eastern Europe, team members spread the Gospel and assist missionaries in all sorts of ventures. For more information about these valuable opportunities, call 1-800-BJ-AND-ME.
Stands unequivocally on the absolute authority of the Bible.
800-BJ-AND-ME • www.bju.edu • Greenville SC 29614 FrontLine • July/August 2009
BJU does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, or national or ethnic origin. ©2009 Bob Jones University. All Rights Reserved. (5947) 0409
oon after I was saved as a teenager, I knew I had to serve God. With this overwhelming desire, how could I do less? In college I met Brent, with whom I would spend the rest of my life. We had prayed about the mission field, but finally decided on home missions or church planting. God brought us to Sonora, California, in 1995, where we worked with Grace Baptist Church under Kevin Schmidt until we found a place to start “our own” church. The goal was to start a church from scratch. However, our sovereign God began pointing us to Cornerstone Baptist Church. This was a church that had once thrived, but now, many years into its ministry, had dwindled and had actually voted unsuccessfully to close its doors three times in the year before we arrived. Our first impressions were that of sympathy and reluctance. Surely this is not the right place, Lord. There are so many needs, and the people are old, Lord. Please, this really isn’t Your will, is it? After much prayer and eventual surrender, we knew this was what God wanted us to do. I guess we had in our minds the idea of starting from birth and seeing a baby church grow, not learning to perform CPR! Wise Counsel A few weeks after we first arrived at Cornerstone, Brent was able to spend the day with veteran church planter Robert Jordan. His first piece of sage advice was, “Move.” The ability to relocate is a distinct advantage of not owning your own building. We did move to a neighboring city soon after. Later that day his counsel was directed to Brent alone. “Make time for your family.” How thankful I am that this advice has been heeded. Oh, how those early days were a learning experience! In this society of instant gratification, waiting on God is hard. We found that church planting is not like cake mix. 22
You don’t just add a pastor and water, stir, and see a large, well-developed church pop out of the oven. In the beginning we thought, Okay God, we are here doing what You called us to do, so where are the people? Brent was faithful to be out in the community, yet growth was small. Well, let’s just say it was humbling. We met in a storefront when we first arrived, and it was almost humorous to see someone drive through the parking lot, take a peek in the window, and then drive away. In that storefront we had one room with five-foot-tall dividers. Our first two children were two years and four months old. Imagine keeping the nursery quiet during the preaching service! We didn’t even have a pianist for seven years but hired one from the community to accompany the singing. Lessons to Be Learned Other lessons were close to home—literally. When the church was small and the office was in our home, it seemed I was a part of every detail of the ministry. I tried to “help” my husband, often too forcefully. God called me to be a helpmate, not an assistant pastor! I am also learning to be patient and rest. These are hard lessons for me. Our church has grown, but not at the pace that I thought it would. Additionally, I have had to realize that I am not the one to fill every job. I have tried different ministries in the church and have found that there are other ladies who do a better job than I do. I felt guilty about this in the past, but Brent has gently reminded me that our family, especially our four children, is my main ministry right now. My hardest times were when the kids and church were small. I was in the nursery A LOT (My family was the nursery!), and I did not have the companionship of other moms. Brent worked thirty hours a week in a secular job, adding to my loneliness. During this valley, our faithful God provided mentors and friends. I went to another pastor’s wife’s home FrontLine • July/August 2009
for “wise counsel” once a week. We laugh now because all that was needed for me to feel refreshed and recharged was for me to talk and cry, and for her to listen. A huge emotional relief was when I decided to “get off the emotional roller coaster” and stop counting and measuring every Sunday. I asked another church planter’s wife a question about how she dealt with being in a small church when her kids were small. Her insight changed my thinking. She told me that my kids had no expectation of large programs with lots of kids as I did. My children would not be deprived of opportunities by the God who so skillfully placed them in our family. This was also a great reminder for me to watch my attitude. I am thankful for the training opportunities my children have because they are not lost in a crowd. My oldest is fourteen. He operates our sound booth and sings in our choir. My girls, ten and twelve, both serve in the nursery. Both of my older kids will help with VBS this summer. In a “me first” generation that asks “What can a church do for me?” I am glad they are learning to serve, not just be served. Blessings from Jehovah-Jireh About four years after arriving at Cornerstone we were discouraged and exhausted both emotionally and spiritually. The time of relief came a year later when God sent three BJU graduates, one couple and a single man, to help us. God even blessed the single man and provided a godly wife for him way out here in California! These couples are vital members of our church. They fill some key roles: deacons, choir director, song leader, Sunday school teachers, nursery director, nursery workers, women’s Bible study leader, small group leaders, church mechanic, interior decorator, and construction worker. They also have some adorable children who have helped to fill our nursery and children’s classes! They have walked beside us and borne our burdens. What a blessing they are, not only to our church but also to our family. These couples have fixed our cars, babysat our children, done various jobs on our house, and provided hours of fun and fellowship. The God of provision, Jehovah-Jireh, knew that we needed this encouragement. God has provided materially for us in ways I never thought imaginable. The cost of living is high in California. Seven years we lived in apartments. For the first five years the office was in our bedroom—or I should say, there was a bed in the middle of the office. One Saturday night I was awakened by a loud humming noise and the feeling of hot air rushing on my head. I sat up in horror, sure that I had met my doom, only to realize that Brent was printing the church bulletin. The copy machine FrontLine • July/August 2009
was only six inches from my pillow! I never even dared to entertain the idea of owning a home. When Brent surprised me with the news that we were already prequalified to buy a house, I thought he was joking and told him that he was lying and not to play with my emotions! I had so determined to be content with what God had given, that I did not even want to go there in my thinking. That week we found our home. What a generous God we serve! We are in our thirteenth year of ministry at Cornerstone. It has not been an easy road. It has been a road where I have seen God at work in my life. I am amazed at His goodness and care for my family. I am thankful for the grace God gives to do His will. “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” Janice Snow serves beside her husband Brent at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Pleasant Hill, California. They have four children: Timothy, Bethany, Abigail, and Zachary.
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On Spirit Baptism
he predictive importance of John the Immerser’s identification of Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah and of His coming death and resurrection gets year-round proclamation and also extensive declaration on Palm Sunday and Easter. The other predictive promise based on the form and significance of the water immersion introduced by John, that of a coming immersion by the Holy Spirit, may get some mention if there is a special remembrance at Pentecost. Many Christians may go year after year without ever hearing anything about the importance of Spirit immersion for this age. Fulfillment of His work as the Lamb of God brought to an end the anticipatory expectation of One to die for the sins of all mankind for all time, from the fall of Adam to the last human conception prior to the end of time. That once-for-all death and physical resurrection, without question, deserves full recognition. It is the most important historical event in all human history. It is the greatest expression of the love of our Creator God for all who became sinners in the choice of Adam. It deserves daily and weekly proclamation. It should remain primary in our sharing the gospel. Holy Spirit immersion (Spirit baptism) as a special application of the benefits of the work of the Savior is not nearly so prominent as the physical “immersion” involving the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. Water immersion portrays that crucial event of the Messiah in a dramatic way. Every time a new convert is immersed in water, he is publicly repeating the picture message God appointed. Each immersion in water is a proclamation of the gospel. It is also a personal proclamation by a new believer that he has been made dead to sin and alive unto God—that is, that he has been united to the Savior’s death, burial, and resurrection by a spiritual, judicial immersing action by the Holy Spirit. Thus, water immersion always follows Spirit immersion and also pictures Spirit immersion, our union in Christ Jesus. The redemptive work of the Messiah on Calvary was to benefit all humankind. The immersing work of the Holy Spirit did not take place prior to Pentecost, and so far as we know, will cease with the rapture of the church. It is thus dispensational in nature rather than of universal significance. That should not make it of any less importance for believers of the present dispensation. It is one of God’s clear manifestations of His work in His own. Those who do not have the Spirit are none of His (Rom. 8:9). Jesus indicated that, though the Spirit had been “with” true believers in the previous dispensation, following Pentecost, He would indwell each true believer (John 14:17). That indwelling, following Pentecost, occurs simultaneously with Spirit immersion. The Spirit immersion of a new believer, uniting us 24
before the courts of Heaven in the benefits of the death and resurrection of the Savior; the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a residence indicating constant interaction between Him and each of us; and the placement of all true believers of this dispensation in the “body” of the Lord Jesus Christ are works that may be more intertwined than we realize. All three began at Pentecost and pertain particularly to believers of this dispensation. None of the three occurred prior to Pentecost. In the OT, though, saints were often “filled” with the Holy Spirit. Filling remains similar in this dispensation. Filling is frequently noted in the book of Acts as a clear evidence that God is at work. Spirit immersion, His indwelling, and our union in Christ are all non-visible. The reality may be evident in the lives of believers, but the Spirit action is genuinely invisible. True believers often react to the assertion that all “Christians” throughout the world are one “body,” for it appears to us that the great majority who use the name “Christian” are only “cultural Christians” and not truly possessors of eternal life. The greater “body of Christ,” consisting of all believers of this dispensation, will not be gathered until following rapture or resurrection. A local “body of believers” is also called a body of Christ in the sense that it consists only of spiritual members (not of all cultural participants) gathering to accomplish the work of Christ. A local church is a picture representation of the full future body of Jesus. Spirit immersion is not the same as union in the body of Christ. Immersion by the Holy Spirit is an act of making us one in His death, burial, and resurrection that results in our union with the Savior. Placement is a single, momentary act. Union thus has a beginning with placement, but will have no cessation. We are in the Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity. We are there by an infallible act of an infallible Being. It is not by human works of any sort. It is not deserved. It is all of grace. Those who have sprinkled and called it “baptism” have removed the picture basis for water immersion and the appointed likeness for Spirit immersion. I’m not even aware that infant sprinklers speak of “Spirit baptism.” Baptists, however, ought to mention it in some fashion every time there is a public immersion. Throughout Paul’s epistles, Spirit immersion is the basis for separated Christian living. Messages on growth and our walk with Jesus should stress the power of the new life implanted in us. We are raised from spiritual death by the special work of the Spirit of God in order to live unto the glory of God. Spirit immersion ought repeatedly to be stressed among us. Warren Vanhetloo, AB, BD, ThM, ThD, DD, is adjunct instructor in and professor emeritus of systematic theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. He now resides in Michigan. He can be contacted at email@example.com. FrontLine • July/August 2009
f you are considering church planting in Southern California, how about praying about starting that church in a military community? Let me give you some reasons for such a venture. The Privilege
The privilege of reaching and pastoring those who wear the uniforms of our great nation is nothing short of incredible. To be part of the spiritual development of individuals who understand submission, sacrifice, and service to a cause greater than themselves is a thrill. I just spoke with a former member of our church who recently returned home from another tour in Iraq. This Navy Seal is representative of the many thousands of Sailors in the San Diego area who are hungry for something. . . . We have what they need. This veteran with some two decades of service to his country used to be one of the many song leaders we have had here at Victory. I recall that he was excited about a particular hymn one Sunday morning and asked the congregation to sing out: “Let’s rock the house!” I do not know that we rocked the house, but we did sing out that song with smiles on our faces . . . wondering what would happen if we did not follow his command! “H” loves his Lord, his family, and the opportunity to keep us safe and the bad guys looking over their shoulders. The Potential The potential of these young men and women who have the majority of their lives ahead of them to be used for the Lord ought to cause us to have chills run down our spines. In 1990 we met a young man who had been saved about a year; he became a charter member of our church and just recently preached his third evangelistic meeting here. This “ammo troop” is now being used of the Lord as a staff evangelist from Calvary Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Two of our FBFI Chaplains, Chris Melvin and Alan Findley, came to a saving knowledge of Christ and headed FrontLine • July/August 2009
off for formal Bible training after the completion of their initial enlistment. Chris conducted services throughout Afghanistan and has a PowerPoint presentation that makes the impact of the FBFI Chaplain noteworthy. Alan planted and still pastors the Hope Baptist Church in Nicholtown, South Carolina. What a trophy of God’s grace he is. The USAF facilitated his escape from the bowels of inner-city Chicago. He has a wonderful testimony! Jason Wermager, outreach pastor at Northwest Valley Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona, was the nucleus of our ministry at George AFB (before its closure in 1992), and our ministry was literally established around this young “weapons guy” and his contacts and barracks mates. Doug Brown has been pastoring in Madawaska, Maine, for some years now. A weapons loader, he used to wear a unit patch on his flight jacket that read, “We live that others may die.” Talk about a change in purpose: he now lives that others will not die in their sins. Gino Abaldo has returned to the Mojave Desert to pastor the Silver Valley Baptist Church in Yermo. He turned down a stripe (E-8) to head off for formal Bible training after more than twenty years of service to his country. His commander told me at his retirement, “He could have been a Chief.” Yes, there is a pleasant ring to “Chief Abaldo,” but there’s a real resonance to “Pastor Abaldo”! Rob Trautman serves with us here as we continue to seek to minister to Edwards AFB. He is still serving as a USAF Reservist, which gives numerous opportunities to minister. These men are or were young and looking for a life that would count. They found something to live for! How many other young men and women who are learning discipline and duty and are looking for spiritual direction and development? Do you desire an international ministry? Come to any base and start a church and you will have one. We have continued on page 28
Waiting for Jesus Claudia Barba
hy did Jesus make them wait so long? He had often stayed in their home, and we’re plainly told that He loved them. Martha had served Him to exhaustion, and Mary had sat adoringly at His feet. How strange, then, that Jesus should respond so slowly to their cry for help. They had been sure He would come running when with the confidence born of closeness they had sent this simple message: “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick” (John 11:3). But Jesus, only one day’s journey away on the other side of the Jordan, postponed His coming. When He finally arrived in Bethany four long days later, Lazarus was dead and buried. His sisters’ gentle rebuke revealed faith blended with disappointment: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, [our] brother had not died” (John 11: 21, 32). I’m not sure I would have been so composed. I know my impatience during waiting-on-God situations, even when the issues are far less crucial than death. I find it terribly hard to handle His delays when I believe with all my heart that I have prayed in His will and that the answer I seek would be for His glory. “Why not?” I ask. “I know that You can, so why don’t You? What are You waiting for?” Prayers that seem unheard and unanswered are my greatest test of faith. I suspect that I’m not alone in this, and that other Marys and Marthas of the world, when filled with more pain than faith, ask the same questions. The problem is not with our eagerness for an answer or our disappointment at God’s delay. It’s with the wrong conclusions we reach while following our frustrations down a twisty trail of doubt. I once prayed consistently and fervently for a desire close to my heart, while doing my best to fulfill every Scriptural prerequisite for answered prayer. After many months of praying and waiting, I became angry and impatient and decided I was wasting my time—nobody was listening! Maybe, I fretted, God’s too busy with more important people to listen to me. Maybe my pleas have gone unnoticed among all the other cries for help. Or maybe He did hear but doesn’t care enough to answer. Pouting, annoyed with God for not answering the way I wanted when I wanted, I stopped praying completely. I was miserable. God dealt very gently and unexpectedly with His sulking child. I was out shopping when I saw Him miraculously engineer the details of my circumstances in a way that showed intimate knowledge of my simplest needs. The Lord’s patient, tender love was so unmistakable—so much like a reassuring hug—that I broke into repentant tears right in the store! I began praying again for the same familiar request but now with a very different spirit. He 26
still hasn’t answered my prayer, and I still talk to Him about it every day. But now I ask with confidence that the One who loves me has a very good reason for His delay. Mary and Martha must have also felt ignored, coping with fear and grief while Jesus deliberately stayed away. The truth is, of course, that they were not forgotten by the Lord for an instant. He was asking them to wait for Him to work out His plan. And so He does with us. Our prayer goals are often selfish—to have the problem solved, the pain eased, the need met—but God’s purposes are loftier than ours. Waiting enhanced the sisters’ joy when the longdelayed answer came. Their brother’s healing would have delighted them at any point, but coming as it did after every other resource was exhausted, after hopeful hours by his bed had ended in days of weeping at his tomb, their joy must have been overwhelming. Overwhelming enough to abbreviate the wait in their memory, and certainly enough to increase their faith marvelously when the next crisis came. And I suspect that the wait also purified their motives. Probably their prayers, as mine often do, began as pleas for immediate relief and gratification. But as the days passed, surely their desires became centered more on asking for grace to accept His will, whatever it was. Perhaps they even reached the ultimate selflessness in prayer—inviting God to glorify Himself even at the price of their pain. That’s what happened to our Scripture sister Hannah. She began by praying for a child to satisfy her maternal yearnings and to escape others’ taunts, but as time passed without an answer, her prayers were purified into longings for a son to give “unto the Lord all the days of his life” (1 Sam. 1:11). The wait in Bethany also brought greater glory to God. Since Lazarus’ body had been decaying in its sealed stone crypt for four days, no one could doubt that he had been thoroughly dead. This was no trick; there could be no explanation but the miraculous. The delay itself demonstrated Jesus’ power over death and proved that He was the Messiah. Why did Jesus make Martha and Mary wait so long? Not because He didn’t care, for when He arrived, He wept along with them. His delay was for their good and for His glory, and surely for one more very satisfying reason—so that you and I, while coping with His delays, can learn from their story and have hope. Claudia Barba and her husband, Dave, have an itinerant ministry called Press On! Ministries, which helps to plant new churches in the USA. They have three grown children and “three perfect grandsons.” You may contact the Barbas at www.ipresson.com. July/August 2009 • FrontLine
When you plant a church you should have the church constitution completely written several months before you have any Sunday services. If you wait until you have interested folk and then set up a committee, you will compromise in several areas and not have the type of church you planned to start. —Grant G. Rice Your first location will probably be a matter of taking what is available: a store front, a school, a tent, an empty factory, or maybe someone’s home. However, a future building site that is accessible is worthy of consideration. —Paul S. Vanaman Great metropolitan areas that have few gospel-preaching churches ought to be high on the priority list. —M. Wayne Van Gelderen Grave errors often are made in constructing church buildings. . . . Building within the scope of the Lord’s will is infinitely more than the creation of material structure. —William R. Rice I have looked at great men’s accomplishments and admired them. These great men would be the first to tell you that the whipped cream looks attractive, but it is the substance underneath that really matters. —James O. Phillips We should live as close to the people we are pastoring as possible. —Curtis Gibson Church planting is God’s way of spreading the gospel message and of establishing a community-based agency for evangelism and discipleship. —Bruce McAllister If the expansion of our home base (here in the United States) is allowed to erode, our global effectiveness will be greatly hindered. —Mark E. Batory
Your church should be extremely careful in the selection of a building site. Recent experiences have evidenced an increasing number of serious considerations concerning zoning, health, environment, traffic and much more. —Joe Miller The United States really does need more churches. One prospective church planter completed a survey which revealed that if all the churches of his persuasion in the area (there were seven) were filled to capacity on Sunday morning, the combined attendance would be less than six percent of the population. —William J. Vermeulen You should have a survival budget written and printed even before you start house-to-house canvassing for the new church. —Grant G. Rice Church planting is an “open door opportunity” for the entry-level pastor. —Bruce McAllister The past month in our church-planting experience was a month that only a pessimist like Eeyore could appreciate. —Darren Hammermeister Weak groups, notably liberal groups, believe that no one has a monopoly on the truth, accept diversity, engage in dialogue, and are lukewarm. —Dean Kelley, National Council of Churches [!] The man who “returns home” to plant a church has five advantages: (1) a natural love for the community; (2) an understanding of the ‘life’ of the community; (3) knowledge of the institutions and infrastructure of the community; (4) established friendships and contacts; (5) a natural tendency for stability. —Elmer L. Towns
Compiled by Dr. David Atkinson, pastor of Dyer Baptist Church, Dyer, Indiana.
July/August 2009 • FrontLine
Regional Report Ken Endean
ornerstone Baptist Church in Scarborough, Maine, hosted the FBFI Northeast Regional Pastors’ Fellowship on April 27th and 28th. Sixteen different churches were represented, coming from Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. In addition, a number of missionaries and missionary candidates attended. The theme “Worship Acceptable to God” provided a wonderful opportunity for challenging messages, practical workshops, and an overall good time of learning. Each pastor who registered for the conference received a complimentary copy of the newly released book A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity by Dr. Rolland McCune. Featured speakers for the conference were Dr. Michael Harding, pastor of First Baptist Church of Troy, Michigan; Pastor Scott Aniol, direc-
tor of Religious Affections Ministries; and Dr. Mark Batory, director of Gospel Fellowship Association Missions. A question-and-answer session in which the guest speakers were joined by Dr. Kurt Woetzel, author of Music in the Balance, provided a wonderful opportunity for candid and courteous consideration of some challenging issues confronting ministry today. Questions ranged from current concerns and trends in churches and music selection to how best to approach missions in times of economic difficulty. Fellowship opportunities were scheduled into the conference activities. The young people from Cornerstone
Church Planting in Military Communities (continued from page 25)
Korean, Dutch, German, Japanese, and Thai tracts in stock. Our military are stationed around the world, and so is their outreach to “the uttermost.” Most of our members will not go off to a Bible college but will be sent around the world in uniform, serving in local Fundamental churches and impacting lives with the gospel of Christ. It feels as though we are a perpetual church plant, but that is the nature of our ministry. The Pressure The pressure upon a church plant in a military community is great. Making contacts with our military personnel and their families in a post 9-11 world is entirely different from when we started serving with Armed Forces Baptist Missions in 1988. Access to the military installations is a precious commodity. The transient nature of the military life requires us to do many things in a hurry. A few years is the average time a church will have to minister to its military members. Constant upheaval takes its toll on the children, and having a parent—or parents—deployed does not create family stability. 28
Baptist Academy provided special music and helped by serving the luncheon and setting up for the meeting. The overwhelming consensus was that we must do this again. One pastor shared how he had intentionally taken time to ponder and reflect on the things discussed and the best applications for his ministry. As host pastor, I found my thinking challenged, and I was personally strengthened by the discussion. I was also greatly encouraged by the fellowship and the reminder of the exciting work God is doing in New England.
You will not build an empire if you are ministering in a military community, but you will have the joy of building lives. The Places The places to establish a much-needed church in a military community in Southern California are around any military installation. Your fellow FBFI brethren here are not territorial. There are two areas that merit special consideration. Camp Pendleton in the Oceanside/Vista communities is home to thousands of Marines who are heading into harm’s way or returning from the war zone. San Diego is home to thousands of Sailors who are scattered through this metropolis. We could use several dozen Tim and Eileen Sneedens to attempt to reach this incredible and beautiful area of our state. (If you cannot be happy in San Diego, you will not be happy anywhere!) Pray about serving with them in this new church plant. Tell your family and friends in San Diego about Metro Baptist Church and invest in lives. Military will be ministered to, and they will minister, as the Lord establishes this ministry. Our most faithful folks with a heart for evangelism have been military or their spouses. Please prayerfully consider a church plant in a military community in Southern California. Ron and Kim Smith have served with Armed Forces Baptist Missions since 1988 and have served in local church ministry near George AFB and now at a church plant near Edwards AFB.
FrontLine • July/August 2009
The Evangelist’s Corner Jerry Sivnksty
The Challenge of Not Fainting in God’s Work (Part Two)
n the last article I stopped in order to build suspense about what happened as I was walking out of the church I was attempting to start in Anderson, South Carolina. We had visited and invited people and preached for ten Sundays and no one showed up, so I thought that maybe the Lord didn’t want me to start a church. I was so discouraged that I was going to quit. I concluded the last article by saying that I had one foot in the church and one foot on the sidewalk, when in walked two ladies whom my wife and I had visited the day before. I said, “Come on in, ladies, we are now ready to start our service.” The first sermon I preached to my first “congregation” was John 3:16. Here was my outline: 1. The Wonderful Fact. “For God so loved the world.” 2. The Wonderful Act. “That he gave his only begotten Son.” 3. The Wonderful Pact. “That whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
At the close of the message I had everyone bow their heads and close their eyes. I said, “If you would like the Lord to save you, would you raise your hand?” One of the ladies raised her hand, so I said, “Is there anybody else?” The other lady raised her hand as well. (By the way, I am one of few preachers who ever got a one-hundred-percent response in their first service!) The two ladies were sitting on one side of the little room; and my wife and Bennie and Laura Moran were sitting on the other side of the room. I didn’t want to embarrass these ladies when I gave the invitation, so I looked over my wife’s head and said, “If you raised your hand and want to be saved, then come forward and we will have a lady take the Word of God and show you how you can ask Christ to be your Savior.” Both of these ladies were under deep conviction but didn’t come forward. I thought for sure they would come back the next week, so the following Sunday I brought Bennie and Laura Moran and another couple, Tom and Linda Harper. Bennie taught Sunday school and Tom led the song service. However, no one showed up for either service. The evening service was supposed to start at 7:30; as the time drew near, however, no one came. I was so discouraged that I took my coat off. All of a sudden Tom said, “Jerry, get your coat on—here come some people!” I hurriedly put my coat on and said, “Where are they?” Tom grinned and replied, “I was just teasing you.” I was not in the mood for teasing! I took my coat off again; it was 7:28. Suddenly Tom said again, “Get your coat back on—a lot of people are coming!” I replied in a firm voice, “Tom FrontLine • July/August 2009
Harper, quit teasing me.” He said, “I am not teasing! See for yourself.” I looked out the door and saw what looked like a hundred people walking right toward our church. There were actually twenty-five, but to me it looked like one hundred! Those two unsaved ladies had come back and had brought their relatives and neighbors to the service. When I preached and gave the invitation, I said, “Tonight there will be no singing and no music. If you want Jesus Christ to save you, then stand up right now and come to me.” That night eight adults came and received Christ as their Savior, and that is how Fellowship Baptist Church in Anderson, South Carolina, got started. I learned a valuable truth that night that has stayed with me all of my ministry—it is always too soon to quit! There are two main lessons I learned from this whole experience that I would like to share with you who are serving the Lord. First, there are blessings you will never experience if you give up and faint in serving God. Back to my story. . . . Many people began coming to our church—so many, in fact, that we had to move to a bigger building. We outgrew that one and purchased five acres of land and built a new auditorium. The countless blessings we have experienced continue to amaze me. We saw many souls saved and made many wonderful friends as a result of starting that church. I have often wondered what would have happened if I had left even a minute earlier that night. I would have missed those two ladies who were coming to the service! Second, the Lord’s timing is always perfect; He’s never too early, and He’s never too late. In times of discouragement the Lord will intervene when we come to the end of ourselves. Little did I realize that the Lord was putting me into the treasure house of His blessings. When we moved to Starr, South Carolina, our neighbors Barnie and Annie Clark befriended us. They were two of the godliest, sweetest people I have ever known. Barnie was the greatest soul-winner I’ve ever met, and he took me under his wing. Annie helped my wife get a teaching position. They poured their lives into us, and I am eternally grateful for the impact they had on our lives. We would have missed all of this had we fainted too soon. Perhaps someone reading this article is about to faint in the ministry. You have sacrificed, you have labored, you feel spent and want to give up. Proverbs 24:10 says, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” The blessing of God may be just a step away; I would encourage you to continue in what the Lord has given you to do. It’s always too soon to quit! Evangelist Jerry Sivnksty may be contacted at PO Box 141, Starr, SC 29684 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written and Compiled by Dr. Layton Talbert
The Books of Kings
en years ago this column featured a history of the Old Testament monarchy (not that I expect anyone to remember that). Although we covered the history recorded, we did not cover the records of that history—the Books of Kings and Chronicles. Many have the impression that Kings and Chronicles, like the Gospels, are largely redundant. In reality, Kings and Chronicles are as literarily distinctive from one another as the Gospels are (which this column explored seven years ago). But why do we have such large segments that cover so much of the same material? And what are the distinctive themes that set these serial histories apart? And how can we approach them in a way that maximizes our understanding and our profit from this challenging portion of Scripture that is necessary to mature us in the knowledge of God and equip us for the service of God? Reading Kings/Chronicles and Pleasure for Profit History is the handmaiden of theology, the illustrated encyclopedia of divine providence. Few historical narratives make this connection more clearly than do Kings and Chronicles. The mindset and strategy with which you approach such challenging portions will have a significant impact on both the profit and pleasure you derive from them. The Books of the Kings and Chronicles cover a lot of terrain—four centuries (twice as long as our nation has been around!). How can we break down the large and confusing cast of characters, especially when you have back-and-forth references to kings of Israel and of Judah (some of whom even have the same names)? Here are some suggestions. 1. Read as drama. If you read it merely as ancient Jewish history, the pleasure factor is diminished; but if you read it as “story”—a form of drama with fleshand-blood people engaging in deeds noble and ignoble, in dialogue that opens a window into the characters themselves and human nature as well—it lives and moves and speaks. 2. Read out loud. Not only will this help you stay focused (and awake), but it also heightens your awareness of the characters’ humanness and the emotion of the dialogue. 3. Read in broad sweeps, not small segments. These events were not recorded as separate snippets, one-aday devotional vitamins to be consumed a nibble at a time. They were written as a consecutive narrative with an overarching message, supported by various themes and emphases. 30
4. Read for the larger message. Look for recurring themes and emphases, not just for devotional “nuggets” of personal application. Seeing the big picture helps us focus on God’s larger design and bigger issues that are no less personally applicable. The “nugget” approach lends itself to a subjective search for something to meet one’s perceived immediate needs. Bible reading is not an Easter egg hunt. The Bible is not a pachysandra patch for hiding prizes; it is a library where everything is “profitable” and context rules our reading.. 5. Read in different translations. Even a good rut is still a rut, and over-familiarity with language and cadence can hinder our ability to see new things (or to see the same things in a fresh light). A different translation forces you to reckon with different syntax and vocabulary and helps you notice things you have not seen before. Try to use a Bible that employs a paragraph format (as opposed to dedicated versification); even the visual format helps you think in terms of contextual segments of material as opposed to isolated verses. 6. Read with a strategy for comprehension. Use colored pencils to color code classes of characters, key words, repeated themes, etc. (For example, in my Books of Kings, the names of northern kings are in blue, southern kings are red, prophets are purple, references to “the word of the Lord” are green. In Chronicles, all the priests are yellow.) Historical Harmony of Samuel/Kings/Chronicles EVENT
Genealogies of the Patriarchy and Monarchy
CHRONICLES 1 C. 1–9
Samuel’s Life and Judgeship
1 S. 1–8
1 S. 9–31
2 S. 1–24
1 C. 10 1 K. 1–2a
1 C. 11–29
1 K. 2b–11
2 C. 1–9
Divided Monarchy (Pt. 1, to Assyrian Exile)
1 K. 12–2 K. 17
2 C. 10–27
Divided Monarchy (Pt. 2, to Babylonian Exile)
2 K. 18–25
2 C. 28–36:21
Return from Babylonian Exile
2 C. 36:22–23
Content of Kings and Chronicles What are the Books of Kings and Chronicles about? The answer is not as obvious as their titles might suggest. They are, of course, a major source for the history of the Jewish kingdom(s); but the history of that kingdom is not their
FrontLine • July/August 2009
Part 4—The Southern Kingdom
Chronicles (Part 1)
primary focus or function. Ironically, the purpose of Kings is not primarily historical, providing royal biographies— the principal characters are not even the kings themselves. Likewise, the purpose of Chronicles is not primarily chronological, recording court records. The function of both Kings and Chronicles is—like the rest of Biblical history— primarily theological/practical and secondarily historical/ chronological. Distinctiveness of Kings and Chronicles Kings and Chronicles display vital theological truths at work in historical context—but not the same truths. No historical record includes all the facts. Thus, the selection of material and of method, of factual content and of thematic emphasis, of what is said as well as how it is said, becomes central to the purpose of both the human author and the divine Author. Though Kings and Chronicles cover the same historical period, they have complementary yet distinctive emphases. This column focuses on the Books of Kings; the next will highlight Chronicles. Themes in Kings The Word of God (Authoritative and Reliable) You might think the Word of God is a key theme in every book of the Bible, especially in two books as similar as Kings and Chronicles. But it’s not. Kings uniquely underscores this theme. Two key phrases keep punctuating the narrative to make this theological point: • “(according to) the word of the Lord (came)”—55x in Kings (only 20x in Chronicles) • “thus saith the Lord”—39x in Kings (only 15x in Chronicles) Keep an eye out for these as you read. As suggested above, a helpful way to capture this theme is to mark every occurrence of these phrases with a colored pencil (in my Bible they are all in green). Another dimension of this same theme is the over forty prophecy-fulfillment accounts that appear in Kings’ 47 chapters. Short-term prophecy fulfillments (in which both the prophecy and its fulfillment are recorded in Kings) are designed to encourage faith in the certainty of long-term fulfillments. Prophets and Men of God (God’s Facilitators of Human History) The real movers and shakers in the Books of Kings are not the royalty. Prophets, not kings, are the true heroes and play the pivotal role in the life of the nation.
FrontLine • July/August 2009
• prophets, prophesy, prophecy—89x in Kings (only 40x in Chronicles). Only Jeremiah has more emphasis on prophetism (135x); all other books have only a smattering of references to prophets and prophesying. Kings mentions 11 named prophets and 6 unnamed prophets, as well as several groups of prophets (1 Kings 18:4; 22:6; 2 Kings 4:38). Again, consider marking these words with another colored pencil (mine is purple). • man of God—55x in Kings (only 7x in Chronicles) This is another distinctive designation for the prophets in Kings. Some of these are named, but some are identified only by this anonymous label (e.g., 1 Kings 13). • ministries of Elijah/Elisha The ministries of Elijah and Elisha dominate nearly one-third of Kings and span the entire structural center of the books (1 Kings 17–2 Kings 8); yet they are barely mentioned in Chronicles. Elijah’s name occurs 66x in Kings (2x in Chronicles); Elisha’s name appears 58x in Kings (0x in Chronicles). What drives and determines human events? It is not chance or the accidents of history. (Who would ever dream that a queen would have such an ignominious death rather than a royal funeral? See 2 Kings 9:36 in context.) It is not human blunders and bad decisions. (How could wise Solomon’s son have made such a dumb policy decision? See 1 Kings 12:15 in context.) It is not cleverly devised and executed human strategies. (Ahab thought he could outsmart the prophecy of God. See 1 Kings 22:37,38 in context.) What drives and determines human events is the determination of the word of God delivered through the declaration of the man of God. Themes of Kings Compared with Chronicles Themes in Kings
Man of God
“the word of the Lord”
“thus saith the Lord”
continued on next page
At-a-Glance (continued from page 31) Message of the Books of Kings Certainly a central theme of the Books of Kings is the absolute reliability of God’s words. If He has said it—good or bad—He will do it. Embracing that proposition demands faith because of the chronological distance sometimes between what He says and when it happens. That’s why Kings feeds our faith in the long-term dependability of this truth with shortterm prophecy-fulfillments. In every generation, God’s words are always absolutely dependable and trustworthy; what He says will be, what He purposes will come to pass. Kings emphasizes that God’s words govern and intervene in human affairs, and all His words and purposes are reliable. Kings is a treasury of historical
examples illustrating the ingenuity and agility of God’s providence in bringing to pass even the most improbable pronouncements. The record of Kings is designed to eradicate any doubt that the Lord will do what He has said in the way in which He has said it. His word does not merely react to history—it makes history, moves men, and forwards events according to His purposes and pleasure. Do we regard everything God has said as trustworthy—no matter how old it is or how unlikely it sounds to us, no matter whether it concerns us personally or what He has said He will do in the future? The theme unfolded and illustrated throughout the Books of Kings should give every preacher and teacher of the Scripture—as well as every believer—unshakable confidence in any and every “word of the Lord.”
Serving Missionaries and Their Sending Churches
The Crowders Brazil
Dr. McLaughlin Calvary Baptist Huntsville, AL
BWM has served Roger and Sharon Crowder and their sending church for over two decades. www.baptistworldmission.org
FrontLine • July/August 2009
Compiled by Robert Condict, FBFI Board Member
Gay Gene Theory The American Psychological Association has reversed its 1998 opinion regarding a biological or genetic role in those who engage in homosexual behavior. The ten-year-old statement reads, “There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality.” A new pamphlet published by the APA entitled Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality states the following: “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.” This article is cited from http:// www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/ Default.aspx?id=528376.
A Russian Prophet Stanislav Mishin is an editorial writer for the Russia periodical Pravda. He recently wrote an article entitled “American Capitalism Gone with a Whimper.” While the political insights may be of interest to many of our readers, of particular interest was his evaluation of American FrontLine • July/August 2009
religion. He writes in this April 27, 2009, article, “Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different ‘branches and denominations’ were for the most part little more then [sic] Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then [sic] happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the ‘winning’ side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the ‘winning’ side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.” This article may be accessed at http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/ columnists/107459-0/.
No Longer JudeoChristian Former President Bill Clinton addressed a crowd of a thousand people at annual convention held by the American-Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee. His thirty-five-minute speech garnered enthusiastic support as he described a changing American demographic, which he credited for the election of President Barack Obama. By 2050 he encouraged his audience that those of European descent will be a minority. This, he touted, is a “very positive thing.” He used the platform to praise our president’s Cairo speech, in which he denied that American was a Christian
nation and gave credence to the Koran. An international and multicultural interdependence was a goal our former president thought worth striving toward. This article may be accessed at http://www.onenewsnow.com/ Politics/Default.aspx?id=566706.
Revised Science Guidelines When the Louisiana board of education released its updated teaching guidelines, the ACLU took immediate exception. The new guidelines allowed teachers to use supplemental materials and guest lecturers in addition to state-approved science textbooks. While the new guidelines state that teachers may not promote religious doctrine, the ACLU wanted specific language to prohibit teaching of scientific creationism and Intelligent Design. This article may be accessed at http://www.nola.com/news/index. ssf/2009/06/aclu_wants_revision_ in_science.html.
Evangelical Division Fundamentalists have been sounding the alarm regarding the Rick Warren ministry philosophy for a long time. Now many Evangelicals who sided with Warren in the past are thinking and saying otherwise. Rick’s public disavowal of support for Proposition 8 on Larry King Live has brought a public outcry from many Evangelicals. Regarding Warren, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. stated, “This man who’s been called the next Billy Graham, who I
really respect with all my heart and love what he’s doing in Africa, is falling into a trap that is emblematic of the problem that the entire church is facing in this generation. . . . And that is that we love the applause of men more than we love the work of God and the gospel. Jesus . . . told us that we are to honor God first, and that we are not to fear men but we’re to fear God.” Incidentally, the same Evangelical backlash was sounded against the Joel Osteen interview on Larry King Live. This article may be accessed at http://www.onenewsnow.com/ Church/Default.aspx?id=483576.
Bible Burning You may have received an e-mail recently telling of the US government’s requiring the burning of Bibles in Afghanistan. According to the e-mail, which originally was taken from a longer open letter written by former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, Bibles that had been translated into the local Pashto and Dari dialects were sent by American donors to US soldiers and chaplains for distribution in Afghanistan. The Al Jazeera television network secured video footage of soldiers holding these Bibles while a chaplain encouraged them in personal outreach and evangelism. According to the letter, “The Pentagon under the Obama Administration has just acknowledged seizing and burning the privately owned Bibles of 33
NOTABLE QUOTES American soldiers serving in Afghanistan.” However, two misleading statements were made in Klingenschmitt’s communication regarding this event. First, “military officials say such distribution would have violated longstanding Pentagon policy against religious proselytizing by U.S. armed forces.” And second, the event happened roughly a year ago, under the Bush administration. It is interesting to note, though, that these Bible were neither owned nor distributed by the US government. Nonetheless, bowing to political pressure, authorities did collect and destroy the Bibles. This article may be accessed at http:// www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/ did_the_obama_administration_burn_ soldiers_bibles.html.
Jihad Watch Geert Wilders was invited in April of this year to address the David Horowitz Freedom Center event in Beverly Hills, California. A Dutch appeals court has ordered prosecutors to begin criminal proceedings against Wilders for “inciting hatred and discrimination” and “insulting Muslim worshippers” through his public statements and his 2008 film, Fitna. In the film, Wilders speaks clearly against Islam on the basis of fact. For this he is being censored as a prophet of hate. A full text of his speech can be accessed at the site below. Included here are just a few of his statements: “The first thing everyone needs to know about Islam is the importance of the Koran. As you probably know, the Koran calls for submission, hatred, violence, murder, terrorism and war. The Koran calls upon Muslims to kill non-Muslims. The Koran describes Jews as monkeys and pigs. The biggest prob34
oliness does not consist of mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervours or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks and willing as God wills.—John Brown
n Germany they came first for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was Protestant. Then they came for me, but by that time there was no one left to speak up.—Martin Niemoller, German minister
inisters’ shortcoming cannot be concealed. Even the most trivial soon get known. . . . However trifling their offenses, these little things seem great to others, since everyone measures sin, not by the size of the offense, but by the standing of the sinner.—John Chrysostom
ypocrisy can be the failure to practice what one preaches; it can also entail an attitude of rigorous moral scrupulosity in one area coexisting with an attitude of libertarian indifference in a comparable area. Hypocrisy may consist in a failure to carry through the implications of one’s moral stances consistently.—Richard Higgenson
do not understand how a man can be a true believer unto whom sin is not the greatest burden, sorrow and trouble. . . . Did Christ die and sin live? Was He crucified in the world, and shall our affections to the world be quick and lively? Oh, where is the spirit of him, who by the cross of Christ was crucified to the world, and the world to him!—John Owen
ll justified people are sanctified, and all sanctified are justified. What God hath joined together let no man dare to put asunder. Tell me not of your justification unless you have also some marks of sanctification. Boast not of Christ’s work for you, unless you can show the Spirit’s work in you. Think not that Christ and the Spirit can ever be divided. I doubt not that many believers know these things, but I think it good for us to be put in remembrance of them.—J. C. Ryle
lem is that the Koran is to be considered as Allah’s personal word, with orders that need to be fulfilled regardless of place or time. That’s the reason why the Koran is not open to discussion or interpretation. It is valid for every Muslim and for all times. Therefore, there is no such thing as moderate Islam. Sure, there are a lot of moderate Muslims, but a moderate Islam does not exist. As the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan once said: ‘There is no moderate Islam, Islam is Islam’. For once I have to agree with this Islamist Turkish Prime Minister.” “About Islam. Let no one fool you about Islam being just a religion. Sure, it has its God—Allah—a holy book—the Koran—temples—mosques— and even a hereafter. If you murder enough Jews you might even get seventy-two virgins. But in its essence Islam is a political ideology and a totalitarian ideology. It is a system that lays down detailed rules for society and the life of every man and woman. Islam wants to dictate every aspect of life and society and prohibits individual, political, and religious rights and freedoms.” “Last year the British Center for Social Cohesion released a survey held under British Muslim students. Some outcomes were horrifying: 32 percent said killing in the name of religion can be justified and 40 percent supported the introduction of Sharia law into British law.” This article may be accessed at http:// www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025558. php. Compiled by Robert Condict, FBFI Advisory Board member and pastor of Upper Cross Roads Baptist Church, Baldwin, Maryland. Newsworthy is presented to inform believers. The people or sources mentioned do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the FBFI.
FrontLine • July/August 2009
Global Focus Pearson Johnson
The Best Places to Live 2009: What’s Missing?
ust recently, US News and World Report released an article titled “Best Places to Live 2009.”* Included in the author’s evaluation of places with “strong economies, low living costs, and plenty of fun things to do” are diverse cities such as Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; La Crosse, Wisconsin; and Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania. To see their other top picks, you can go online and read the article. You can also pick your own criteria and they will give you their recommendations. (Try as I might, I could not skew my choices enough for the program to produce my city, Detroit, Michigan.) Since I am involved in missions and church planting, and because I studied mathematics, I like to read various reports and periodical or online articles that deal with demographics and trends. What I most enjoy doing, however, is looking for things the analysts miss. Conclusions they could come to, if they had different perspectives. Trends they bypass. Statistics they may try to silence. One of the telling traits of the “Best Places to Live 2009” that the article fails to account for is whether there are churches in these places. The general choice, “Religious Activities” is only a subpoint on par with “Movie Theaters” and “Gourmet Food” among many cultural activities. In my opinion, this is a revealing trademark of American culture: that we would desire to live in a place where the economy is strong (so I can make a lot of money), prices are low (so I can purchase as much materially as possible), and where I can have a lot of fun (while it all lasts). These traits, interestingly enough, parallel three other traits given by the Apostle John in 1 John 2:16. See if you can match them up. How can a Christian family decide where they should live? I would like to suggest some considerations for you if you want to have a “global focus.” First: where can you best fulfill your God-given reason for living—to glorify Him? First Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do [wherever you live, in essence], do all to the glory of God.” The local church is at the center of God’s plan for this dispensation, the church being “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15b). Therefore, in order to fulfill your reason for living—to glorify God—you must live in a place where there is a local church upholding and proclaiming the truth.
FrontLine • July/August 2009
What if you want to move somewhere where there is no truth-proclaiming church? Maybe there is a good job waiting for you. Perhaps it is your home area. Then (and hence we get to the main point of the article and this issue), you must find a church planter whom you can assist in that area. There are scores of places to live that have good churches, but there are hundreds that need good churches planted. What a blessing it would be for a church planter to know he has a family ready to move where he is going! A second consideration for you is this: where can you best fulfill your God-given commission for evangelism and discipleship? Many studies have shown that church plants are much more evangelistic in nature than are established churches. They have to be evangelistic in order to grow and become self-sufficient. Uniting your family with an evangelistically driven church plant will help you do your part to fulfill the Great Commission. A third consideration, and perhaps a more sobering one, is where can we, as a family, make a difference for the cause of Christ? Purposefully left off the US News list are those communities that have a higher-than-average crime rate. For decades, Christian families have been in the habit of fleeing the places that Christ calls us to infiltrate with the light of the gospel and the salt of gospel-centered lives. It is no wonder that cities and communities degenerate as they do when they are left to the darkness. You may need to pray and ask God to unite your family with a struggling church or a church planter who is on the front lines of gospel work in a difficult community! The bottom line is this: judgments about the “Best Places to Live” for a Christian should be formed in an entirely different way than we see in a news magazine, and they must be made with local churches in mind. For our churches to continue advancing with a global focus worldwide, they must continue advancing here at home. They will do so as every believer takes responsibility for that advance, to the glory of God. Pearson Johnson is the pastor of missions and evangelism at Inter-City Baptist Church. You can e-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.
* http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/real-estate /2009/06/08/best-places-to-live-2009.html?PageNr=1
Chaplain News Bob Ellis
od has blessed the FBFI with outstanding and godly chaplains who are respected and making a lasting impact where they minister, whether they are active-duty or reserve military, Civil Air Patrol, or police or hospital chaplains. They are known as men who care and who serve others. They are men who are a part of unit activities on a daily basis. In April I was privileged to visit Navy Chaplain (LT) Robert Spivey at NAS, Lemoore, California. Chaplain Spivey shared with me an incident that took place shortly after he reported for duty. When he visited the flight line to meet the flight crews, one man commented that he was the first chaplain to visit him on the flight line in over twenty years of service in the Navy. Two FBFI-endorsed Army chaplains have now graduated from the Army Ranger School. Army Chaplain (CPT) Doug Nab, who finished the course in April, writes the following: I had an awesome ministry while in Ranger School. One Ranger got saved, and I prayed with and counseled many other soldiers going through the course. I even did a Red Cross notification in the field. One of my Ranger buddies asked me to conduct a marriage ceremony on Memorial Day weekend. I am about to start at a new chapel in a military housing area. This is a great opportunity. My weekly Bible study has continued with about twelve in attendance. My previous chapel averaged about 120. All FBFI chaplains each quarter send to the office a report of their ministries and often share their involvement in a local church. Here are some quotes from their April 2009 reports. Army Chaplain (MAJ) Mike Shellman, a graduate of the Ranger School, now serves as the Ranger School chaplain. He writes, Ministry is going very well as I conduct six services for the FrontLine • July/August 2009
Ranger students as they go through Ranger School. Ranger School is conducted at three locations, and I travel to each location to spend time with the Cadre and conduct the worship services. Many students have accepted the Lord as Savior, and we rejoice to see the Lord at work in the lives of these students as they go through the most physically and mentally demanding training that is imposed upon them. Army Chaplain (CPT) Brian Palmer writes, I am currently deployed to the contested Diyala province of Iraq. We have been here six months already, and we are tired. This deployment seems safer than my previous deployment. This is good, but it also lessens the desire in soldiers to turn to the Lord for protection, so no great numbers of false battlefield conversions have occurred. Those who want to talk and learn about the Bible and Jesus Christ have a genuine desire to do so. I usually hold four services every two weeks on outlying Combat Outposts (COPs). Attendance varies with missions and other issues that pop up. I usually have five soldiers who attend the company-sized COP and twenty at the two-companysized COPs. Recently, the numbers have been increasing as soldiers find a need to discuss family life issues. I also hold services at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Warhorse weekly and have about 50–60 in attendance. We have baptized six people in the past six weeks: two military and four local nationals. My ministry is split between focusing on building up the believers and encouraging them in the faith and explaining Christianity to our young soldiers who have little basis in the faith, barely even a nominal understanding. I have
spent the past six months overcoming a soldier’s self-professed belief that organized religion cannot be trusted in order to begin to get him to engage in spiritual conversations with me. This is more typical than not. We are at war with our culture to get them to accept the idea that following Christ in truth and grace is a good thing. From Navy Chaplain (LT) Rob Johnson: My battalion found out just over seven weeks ago that we would be the Headquarters Group for the Marine Expeditionary Brigade headed over to southern Afghanistan. Since that time we have crammed in five months of training. Many of my men are already in country, and I am leaving very soon. Because of the seriousness and danger inherent with our mission, my marines and sailors are starting to consider eternal matters. Consequently, I have been able to share the gospel to much more receptive hearts. Three have accepted Christ as Savior and at least five others have rededicated their lives to the Lord. Another marine that I have been discipling is leaving active duty to attend seminary, while two others will be with me in Afghanistan and will act as lay leaders. From January 3 to February 12 my unit was out at Twentynine Palms, California, honing our skills in a desert environment. During that field exercise I held two worship services that focused on several of God’s attributes. We had anywhere from four to twenty-five marines in attendance. I also held a midweek Bible study going over the book of Daniel and how godly men can honor the Lord while serving under godless men in government. continued on page 38
Mail Bag (continued from page 4)
y husband and I are in our eighties, and FrontLine keeps us informed and also filled. We enjoy and pass the magazine on. Mrs. Betty Wright Fremont, MI
hen I saw that the latest issue of FrontLine featured articles concerning the autonomy of a Baptist church, I wondered if you had ever received a copy of the booklet my father wrote, We Still Have an Autonomous Church? This booklet is a summary of the Princeton, Indiana, court case that spanned the years 1938–40. A splinter group of members of the First Baptist Church were represented by executives of the Northern Baptist Convention. My father had the along-side-support of Dr. R. T. Ketcham, and they were represented by an excellent Methodist attorney. The case was won on the testimony of the Convention. Please read page 78 for a humorous incident that happened when Dr. Ketcham joined our family devotions the morning of the trial in Boonville. This test case was the foundation for the movement of independent Fundamental Baptist churches. When my father accepted the call of a church, in Indianapolis, that had recently left a Convention church, there were only two other independent Fundamental Baptist churches in the city. They formed a fellowship. Churches were added right along. I don’t remember how long it was . . . not long . . . but they had a city wide revival with Dr. Monroe Parker. I don’t remember how many churches were in the fellowship at that time; however, I do remember that I orga-
nized and conducted the choir made up of singers from fifty-four churches in the greater Indianapolis area. There were at least that many churches and probably more that did not provide singers. The autonomy of Baptist churches provided a backbone for aggressive growth from visitation and soulwinning, not a “long suit” for churches in the Northern Baptist Convention, plus other convictions that identify independent Baptist churches. Thank you for a great magazine and for a great fellowship. I’m a member of the Colonial Hills Baptist Church and my son, Mark, is a member of Hazelwood Baptist Church. May God continue to bless you and your associates in the great work to which He has called you. Robert F. Porter Indianapolis, IN Editor’s Note Ford Porter, father of Robert F. Porter, authored both We Still Have an Autonomous Church and the tract “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation.” Over 600 million “God’s Simple Plan” tracts have been shipped since it was first written in 1933. It has been translated into 120 languages and Braille. We are providing information below for those who might be interested in obtaining copies of these publications. LifeGate Inc. PO Box 425 Beach Grove, IN 46107 Phone: 317.784.3600 E-mail: info@Godssimpleplan.org Website: Godssimpleplan.org
Chaplain News (continued from page 37) Army Chaplain (COL) Joe Willis, serving at US Central Command, MacDill AFB, Florida, reports, My travels have picked up again in the past few months. In March I attended the Strategic Leader Development Training in South Carolina. It is where all the senior chaplains for the Army get together and discuss major issues affecting our soldiers and their families. From there, a proclamation was given that April 8, 2009, would be deemed a “Day of Prayer and Fasting” for the many families who have been affected by suicide in the military. As you may know, our suicide rate for last year was 142. That is the largest number of suicides in one year that we have ever experienced. I also traveled to Jordan in March to attend a Theater Security Cooperation event with the Jordanian Chaplaincy. This is the fifth TSC event that we have conducted. Of special note was the informal theological debate that we conducted in regards to the purpose of the Bible and the Koran. I was also able to discuss 38
with them for the first time about how they attempt to meet the needs of their Christian soldiers in the military if they do not have Christian Chaplains. That discussion was met with a little more resistance than the other debate about the Bible. Pray for guidance and direction as I continue working with these chaplains in Jordan. I continue to lead a Bible study here at the CENTCOM Headquarters. What a blessing! It has given me the opportunity recently to lead my chaplain assistant to the Lord and to encourage other participants to get more dedicated in their personal walk with the Lord. Pray for future opportunities to witness here. Dr. Bob Ellis is the National Field Representative for the FBFI Commission on Chaplains. He travels extensively, visiting Christian colleges and seminaries, promoting the chaplaincy ministry. He is also available to speak in local churches, mission conferences, and Bible conferences. He can be contacted by phone at 850.261.6647.
FrontLine • July/August 2009
Behind the Lines Standing Fast . . . Striving Together . . . Planting Churches Tim Potter
here are times when you can see God moving in such clear ways that there can be no doubt it is He who is working. For some time now there has been a Holy Spirit groundswell of interest among young men to reach the United States again with the gospel. There is nothing passive about this interest. Scores of men and now many churches are beginning to work together to replenish our nation with Christ-centered, gospelpreaching local assemblies. Following proper training, wise counsel, and some deputation work, many young couples have begun new works from New York City to Los Angeles. There is something supernatural happening “behind the lines” among these new works. For years, church planting has taken place as the Holy Spirit burdened the hearts of individuals and their sending churches. Clusters of new churches have started in the Southwest, Northwest, Southeast, and Midwest. Highly motivated churches and church planters encouraging each other have seen multiple new churches planted in Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Colorado, and California. It is evident that this resurgence of church planting was driven, in part, by young men determined to partner together for the gospel while they planted their independent works. Seldom in recent history have we seen this kind of Biblical interdependence among Biblically independent men and churches. Young men and their churches are connecting with one another for encouragement unto more effective ministry. In some areas, local networks of pastors meet regularly throughout the year to preach, FrontLine • July/August 2009
encourage, share ideas, and enjoy fellowship with one another. Some are developing “teams” of churches to band together to send out their own church planters, fully supported, to begin new works. For instance, in Ohio there are two regional groups of “interdependent” independent local churches that are continuing to plant new works. These two regional groups have banded together to plant ten new churches in the last twelve years. In addition to those new works, these pastors and their congregations have given practical help to many other churches across the country to get their start. Now pastors in other areas are meeting together and working toward the same goal. In May, eighteen men in Southern California met together to discuss how they were going to proactively help one another as well as support new church plants in Las Vegas and San Diego. Another church plant will begin next summer in Rancho Cucamonga that is the plant of a recently established church in the same region. The National Church Planting Conference at Grace Church of Mentor, Ohio, seeks to strengthen these efforts by networking local fellowships of churches for more effective church planting. Through solid, expositional preaching, practical network sessions, church planting testimonies, Q&A sessions, and sharing during fellowship times, church planting couples learn from God’s Word and each other how to more efficiently plant and maintain God-honoring new churches in our nation. America is rapidly going the way of Europe in losing many established churches, but God is working behind the lines to raise up new ones. His work is strong and active. It is
clearly seen in men and through their efforts to honestly and successfully spread the good news of Christ again in our land. From burdened individuals and clusters of likeminded churches in the same region, to a national effort to network these clusters of churches for the cause of Christ, God is doing a great work. Bible-believers must be unapologetic about being against things that compromise the gospel, but they must be for the gospel. The National Church Planting Conference provides a great opportunity to “work with committed Bible-believers in glorifying God through the uncompromising fulfillment of the Great Commission.” For decades our movement has been necessarily defensive in its posture— we are against compromise—and we must maintain that strong defense. But we must become stronger in our offence—in declaring for we are for. As Paul told the Philippians (1:27), we must be standing fast in one spirit and striving together with one mind for the faith of the gospel. May Habakkuk’s prayer be ours: “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” We are a broken nation which is beginning to see God’s judgment for our enjoyment of dark things, but during this time of faltering we have a divine window of opportunity to know God’s mercy—to come together as His peculiar people to be instruments of His mercy across our land for Christ through church planting. Tim Potter has served as senior pastor of Grace Church of Mentor, Ohio, since 2006. He and his wife, Ronda, have four children.
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