Thursday, March 29, 2007

I Just Don't Get It!

I do not understand the fascination and admiration that many Evangelicals seem to have for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Back when Newty was ramrodding the “Contract with America” he was the darling of Christan political pundits, and James Dobson has recently remarked that Newty is the

Brightest guy out there…and…the most articulate politician on the scene today

At the same time he appears to turn a cold shoulder to Presidential maybe, former TN senator, and current Law & Order actor Fred Thompson by saying

Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for…[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression

Evidently the good doctor believes that “such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party’s conservative Christian base.” You can read the entire article to the here. But I guess Newty’s adultery is OK with the Republican Party’s conservative Christian base? Personally, I would no sooner vote for Newt Gingrich than I would vote for Hillary Clinton.

Thompson intrigues me. I need to learn more about his positions. Sadly, I have learned that if Fred Thompson does run for President the Law & Order reruns will be temporarily stopped!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Creation Museum to Open Soon

The Answers in Genesis creation museum is scheduled to open on Memorial Day. You can read a Lexington Herald-Leader article about the museum here.

The AiG museum is located in Petersburg, KY, just across the Ohio river from Aurora, IN - my hometown. I ministered for 7 1/2 years at the Dearborn Baptist church, also located in Aurora. In 2005 AiG offered a luncheon for local pastors, and I was fortunate enough to have attended. Along with lunch we were given a tour of the unfinished museum. I was impressed, not only with their service to pastors that day, but with the top quality product of the museum itself. Later in 2005 Dearborn hosted a Bible conference and AiG generously agreed to provide a tour and a bag full of free materials to all the pastors and missionaries in attendance.

I am eager to take my family to No. KY to visit this museum. And it is a museum and not a theme park as Michael Zimmerman has derisively suggested. Zimmerman is the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Biology at Butler University, he is also the founder of the Clergy Letter Project which is the sponsor of Evolution Sunday. Zimmerman has described Evolution Sunday as an...
event designed to provide an opportunity for congregations around the world to discuss the compatibility of religion and science, to investigate why religion and modern science need not be at war with one another. The event is designed to demonstrate that those shrill fundamentalist voices that assert that people must choose between religion and science are simply incorrect, that they are presenting a false dichotomy, that no such choice needs to be made. Indeed, one of the purposes of Evolution Sunday is to help elevate the nature of the debate on this topic from those who simply shout, “Accept evolution and you’ll go to hell.” Finally, one of the purposes of Evolution Sunday is to bring attention to the Clergy Letter, a letter signed by more than 10,500 Christian clergy members. This letter makes it clear that thousands upon thousands of Christian clergy members have no problem embracing their faith as well as evolution.

There may be thousands of "clergy members" who have no problem embracing faith as well as evolution, but I guarantee you they have a problem with the scriptures. If the first eleven chapters of Genesis aren't true who is to say that any of the Bible is literally true?

That is just the point. Most "Christians" who hold to an evolutionary origin of species do not hold to a literal interpretation of scripture. If the Bible is not literally true then what "faith" is there to embrace?

I'm thankful for the apologetics work which AiG does so well. Visit their website, take advantage of their resources, and make plans to visit the Creation Museum.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Cross of Christ

Ours is a society that likes its symbols and logos. Athletic gear with the logos of college and pro sports teams is popular and expensive. The United States has several symbols: “Old Glory,” “Uncle Sam,” and the American eagle. And through the years the cross of Jesus Christ has become a popular and familiar icon. The cross has long been a popular symbol for the Christian community, used to decorate church facilities and Christian paraphernalia. However, in recent times the cross has become trendy and fashionable. What was once viewed as the most cruel and shameful of all punishments, meant to brutally punish offenders and vividly intimidate others, is now a fashion accessory worn by athletes, New Agers, and music stars. Many see the cross as just another religious trinket, no different from the Star of David or a Buddha statue. Do people have any idea what the cross represents?

Christian author Erwin Lutzer writes about meeting a “thirty-something” lady during a flight. He noticed she was wearing a cross on her necklace so he commented, “We really do have a wonderful Savior don’t we?” The lady rolled her eyes, and said that she “understood” the cross differently than he did. Then she showed him two other religious symbols that were dangling behind her cross. “I’m in social work.” She explained. “The people I work with find God in different ways. Christianity is just one way to the divine.” (Cries from the Cross; Chicago: Moody Press, 2002, 14-15).

Obviously, the cross is misunderstood, because it can never be united with other religions, philosophies, or human ideas. It stands alone. The message of the cross is offensive and despised by a culture that is tolerant of everything except the truth. The truth is that we are sinners, unable to reconcile ourselves to God. Our sin pays wages: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23; running up a debt only the shed blood of Christ on the cross can cover
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins - Matthew 26:28...Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many - Hebrews 9:28...For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. - 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

The central message of Christianity is the cross. The cross is the point to which all roads in the past converge and roads to the future diverge. The Old Testament writers prophesied about the cross and the New Testament Christians proclaimed the cross! The cross is evidence of God’s holiness and unfathomable love for us while also revealing our uncleanness. The message of the cross is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:17).
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 1 Peter 1:19-21 (cf. Isaiah 53:10)

The cross is so much more than a symbol. It is how the perfect, sinless Son of God was offered up, completing the foreordained plan of redemption .

Friday, March 23, 2007

What a Wonderful Week!!!!

I have been out of the office, out of the state, and out of the blogging loop since Sunday; however, in spite of the above picture, I have not been out of my mind. The week was profitably spent at the Missions Conference of the Northeast Baptist Church in Southlake, TX. Spending time with old friends, making new friends, and, most importantly, being challenged from God's Word amounted to three fantastic days in Southlake.


I want to thank the Northeast Baptist Church and Pastor Jerry Summy for hosting the conference. They did a marvellous job of serving us. They sought to be a blessing and they succeeded. I also want to express my appreciation to Pastor Jerry Locke of the Lake Worth Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, TX for allowing me and three other preachers to stay in Lake Worth's missions quarters. Because of this service to us our cost was decreased and our fun increased.

(The "us" and "our", by the way, was: Collin Hirsch, Mark Cox, Bud Shockey, and me.)


Because of the conference I was unable to blog; at least I was unwilling to find an Internet connection, and never put forth the extra effort to blog. The Oxgoad will resume in full next week.

Hopefully with more content and less pictures!






Monday, March 12, 2007

Fred Thompson for President?


Perhaps you’re wondering “Who is Fred Thompson?” You might not recognize his name; perhaps you recognize his face. Fred Thompson is an actor/politician from Tennessee. The former Senator and current Law & Order cast member is considering a run for the GOP nomination for President. I stumbled across an “unofficial” website that is touting Fred Thompson for President. You can find that site here. You can also watch an 8-minute YouTube clip of Thompson with Chris Wallace here.

I really do not know much about Fred Thompson. I do remember seeing him as the President’s Chief of Staff in the Clint Eastwood move In the Line of Fire, and I know that he has been my favorite Law & Order DA.
Is he truly conservative? I don’t know. Would he make a good President? I have no idea. I”ll write more about him if he decides to run.

I just hate the thought of losing “Arthur Branch”.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Newsweek Interviews Huckabee

I was disappointed with several answers that GOP presidential candidate and former Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee gave in a recent interview with Newsweek magazine. I’ve already posted an article about Huckabee’s candidacy. You can read that here. There is much about this candidate that I appreciate, but some of his answers in the Newsweek interview were disappointing. I encourage you to read the entire interview. I am only going to post and comment on his answers which I found most troublesome.

The Rev. Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, once told me about how when she preached at a major Baptist event, the audience turned its back on her. You used to be head of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Do you agree that women shouldn’t be allowed to be preachers?

It would seem so rude, no matter what a person thought about the structure of a church, to do that. That’s not Christian behavior. One of the unique things about Baptists—every church is its own autonomous unit. My attitude is, let each church make that decision. I go to a church in Little Rock. A lot of people think we’re strange. We don’t fit the mold of a traditional sit-there-stiffly-in-the-pews-church. We don’t even have pews. We focus on ministering to people who are poor. We feed hundreds of kids every week. Our church has offered line-dancing lessons to get people to come. You can be a person off the street with more metal in your mouth than a GM car has on its exterior.

Are you personally against women being preachers?

I’d rather speak up for the Lord than not. I let each person in each church deal with their own conscience. I have enough of a challenge being obedient to God in my own life than to try to dictate to someone else. It’s not an issue for me.

Do these two questions have anything to do with a man’s ability to be President? No. I am certain that no other candidate will be asked his or her opinion of whether women should be preachers or not. Huckabee was asked that because he is a former Baptist pastor. Quite frankly, his answer bombed.

I understand that this was a loaded question, and providing a Biblical answer might (probably) be harmful. But you either believe what the Bible says about this subject or not. I think that Huckabee could have provided a Biblical answer and still articulated that women are not demeaned or devalued because they cannot be pastors.

Do you believe that gays are going to hell?

No. I don’t know that Baptists would make a statement that anyone goes to hell based on sexual orientation. Heaven is about one’s personal faith and therefore it has to do with one’s relationship to Jesus, not someone’s relationship to someone else.

Again he offers a politically correct response. He should have said that unrepentant sinners, straight or homosexual, will go to hell. Instead he mixes in truth, “Heaven is about one’s personal faith and therefore it has to do with one’s relationship to Jesus.” That’s true, but then he has to throw in “Not someone’s relationship to someone else.”

Huckabee is someone that I can support. Even though he doesn’t have a shot at winning the nomination he is still more appealing to me than the other GOP candidates.

But this interview was a disappointment.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Church Website


I am privileged to pastor the Antioch Baptist Church of Greencastle, IN. We now have a web prescence, and you can visit our new website at www.abcgreencastle.org. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Not My Kind of Conservative

Theologically, fiscally, socially, and politically I’m a conservative. Just look at my blogroll and list of links and you can tell that I often, although not exclusively, read conservative material. There are, however, some conservative commentators I purposely avoid.

Ann Coulter for instance. This woman really annoys me. She is the female counterpart to Willie Cunningham.
Unless you are from the Cincinnati area you’re probably scratching your head and wondering “Who is Willie Cunningham?” He is a loud, obnoxious, lawyer-turned-radio talk show host for 700 WLW in Cincinnati. Cunningham, like Coulter, is a conservative. I hate to admit that.

This duo typify individuals who I’d rather have in the other camp. I’m never quick to publicly admit it when I actually agree with positions that they hold. You’ll never hear me say, “Ole Bill Cunningham has it right!” or “Like Ann Coulter says…” If I agree with these types (Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy are two others) then I try not to point it out.

Why? Because I would rather align myself with conservatives who can sanely and rationally articulate a point; rather than sensationalists who sound more like WWE wrestlers before a match. Both of these individuals are intelligent, and they are both articulate. It is their style and methodology with which I disagree. I don’t think they do conservatives any favors.

Ann Coulter is in the news for her remarks about Presidential candidate John Edwards. I’m not in favor of an Edwards presidency, and you can read all about that
here. I also disapprove of most remarks that come from Ann Coulter’s mouth. If for some reason you haven’t heard what Ann Coulter said about John Edwards, you can read about it here.

I think Dr.
Al Mohler addressed Coulter’s remark quite well, and that is why I’ve provided a link to his blog. I’d like to specifically address any Christian readers right now. If you feel like giving Ann Coulter an “Atta girl” then consider this quote:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. -Ephesians 4:29

Saturday, March 3, 2007

What is the Gospel?

In 1710, Britain’s Queen Anne visited a cathedral which had been designed and constructed by Sir Christopher Wren. After her tour she described the building as “awful, amusing, and artificial”. Upon hearing her words, the architect sighed with relief and satisfaction.

Surprised?

Don’t be; because in 1710 the word “awful” meant “awe-inspiring”; “amusing” meant “amazing” and “artificial” meant “artistic”. To modern ears her words sounded like devastating criticism; instead, she had lathered compliments and praise upon the designer.

Words do not always means today what they meant yesterday; thus, meanings of words are often unclear. Take for an example the word “gospel”. What is the gospel? For some this word means “that which is absolutely and unquestionably true.” Such a one might say, “It’s the gospel truth.” Webster’s dictionary defines the gospel as “the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.” That is helpful, but the definition is broad and vague.

Churches are right to say that their God-given commission is to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). But the question remains: What is the gospel?

Romans 1:16-17 says,
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

The Gospel is about a Person
“…the gospel of Christ…”

For one to understand the gospel one must know who Jesus Christ is and what He accomplished.

Who is Jesus?

That question was first asked by Jesus, and it is recorded in Matthew 16:13-16. He said to His apostles, “Whom do men say that I am…Whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered for the entire group when he said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Under the inspiration of the Spirit the apostle John penned his gospel account so the reader would now that Jesus is the Son of God
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
When Jesus claimed to be God’s Son He was declaring that He was equal with God; that He was God in the flesh
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God - John 5:17-18
Jesus Christ is Lord. He is God who took upon Himself the form of a man (Philippians 2:5-11). We are told in John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”.

What did Jesus do?

There are three elements of the gospel according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-5. Those elements are… (1) The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ(2) for our sins(3) according to the scriptures. That Jesus was buried is proof that He died. That He was seen alive on numerous occasion by multitudes of people is proof that He was resurrected. He died and was resurrected “for our sins” and all of this was “according to the scriptures.”

The wages of sin is death; however, God demonstrated His matchless love for mankind in that Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross to pay sin’s wages. This was foretold in the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah spoke of Christ in chapter 53:3-6,
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…smitten of God, and afflicted…he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This was fulfilled in the New Testament. The apostle Peter spoke of Christ when he wrote,
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. - 1 Peter 2:22-24
The Gospel has the Power to Save
“…it is the power of God unto salvation…”

The Greek word translated “power” in Romans 1:16 means “miraculous power”, and that is what the gospel is: the miraculous, abundant, mighty, and wonderful power of God unto salvation. Only God’s power is able to overcome man’s sinful nature and give him new life.

The facts of the gospel have to do with Jesus, His death, and His resurrection for the sins of man according to the scriptures. The gospel’s impact is described with the phrase “the power of God unto salvation.” It is not just about what Jesus did; it is that what Jesus did has the power to save sinners.

The gospel is about a person – Jesus Christ. The gospel has the power to save sinners.

The Gospel Requires Faith
“…to every one that believes…”

All of mankind has sinned and fallen short of God’s holy standard; there are none who are righteous, not even one. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” The universal problem is sin, and the only solution to this problem is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:2 reads, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” “Propitiation” means atonement or appeasement, and the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sins. It is by the grace of God that Jesus Christ did, according to Hebrews 2:9, “taste death for every man.”

In other words, the gospel does not have favorites. All who come to God in repentance and faith will be saved.

Salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ alone. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul wrote,
[Christ] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise - Ephesians 1:13
By faith the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes “the gospel of your salvation”. Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Salvation is not faith plus anything. It is not faith plus baptism, communion, church membership, or moral behavior. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

Good works cannot produce salvation, but good works are subsequent of salvation. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

What is the gospel? According to the Bible, the gospel is about a person. That person is the Lord Jesus Christ who is God in human flesh. He died for our sins according to the scriptures; was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures. His sacrificial death satisfied the holiness of God, and justified all those who believe. The gospel is the only power that is sufficient to save, and it is available to all who will receive it by faith alone.

Jesus said, “Repent…and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). All who read this are called to do that today; right now. Confess that you are a sinner incapable of saving yourself. Repent of your sins. Trust in the accomplished work of Christ; His death, burial, and resurrection for your sins, and publicly profess your personal faith in Him.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Where I live

A month ago my son Noah had a school project which required him to snap some scenic photos of his hometown. I wanted to post some of the pictures we took. Here is a glimpse of Greencastle, IN.



Starting with the picture at top left is a WWII German Buzz Bomb. It is one of only two in the US; the other is in storage at the Smithsonian. As you can tell it sits on the courthouse square and serves as our WWII monument. These bombs terrorized London during the War. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who pastored the Westminster Chapel in London during the War, was actually holding services one evening when a Buzz Bomb struck near the Chapel. Dr. Lloyd-Jones' daughter, Lady Elizabeth Catherwood, talks about this during a IX Marks interview with Mark Dever. Lady Catherwood describes the bombing between 20:48 - 25:20 in the interview. She refers to the buzz bombs as "flying bombs".

Next is a photo of East College, centerpiece of the DePauw University campus. DePauw began in 1837 as Indiana Asbury University; a Methodist college. The name was changed to DePauw in the 1870's after Washington C. DePauw donated $600,000 to the university.

The next two photos are of the Dunbar bridge which spans Big Walnut Creek almost a mile north of Greencastle. Dunbar bridge was built in 1880 by local farmers who used timber from the Dunbar farm. This burr arch, two-span bridge is 174 ft. long, plus a 12 ft. overhang at each end. The bridge is 16 ft. wide and 13 ft, 6 in. high with cut stone abutments, piles and a shingle roof.

Indiana is famous for its limestone. The Empire State Building, the Pentagon have Indiana limestone in their exteriors, and Indiana limestone was extensively used to rebuild Chicago after the Chicago Fire. That is why the final picture from Noah's school project is of the quarry pond on the DePauw Nature Park. Between 1917 and 1977 the Nature Park was the site of a limestone quarry, but was donated to DePauw by Hanson Aggregates in 2003.

There are some other interesting facts about my new hometown. Eli Lily opened up his first drug-store here. The famous Depression era gangster John Dillinger pulled off his largest heist in Greencastle; stealing $75,000 from a bank on the town square.



Noah and I picked the coldest day of the Winter to take these pics. Regardless of the cold, we had the best of times cruising around Greencastle, IN together, and yes, he took some of these pictures.

This is our new hometown. We didn't move here for DePauw or covered bridges. We live here because the Lord moved upon the Antioch Baptist Church to call me as their pastor, and the Lord led me to accept that call. We enjoy the covered bridges, the historical oddities, and all that DePauw offers. But our prayer is that we will be a gospel witness in our new community. We desire to do what we can by using what we have right where we are; by the power of God and for the glory of God.