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All Around the Web – September 22, 2018

AATWTrevin Wax – Resisting The Great Untruths That Hurt Our Society

John Stonestreet – The Pagan Logic of Infanticide

Jason K. Allen – As One with Authority: The Four Pillars of Authoritative Preaching

TGC – How Should Pastors Approach the Salary Question?

Evangelical History – Lessons Learned from Fact-Checking Professor Buzzkill

Chuck Lawless – 15 Things to Do if You Want to Lead Better

Thom Rainer – The Kingdom Mindset of Churches that Are Willing to Be Replanted – Revitalize & Replant #059

Justin Taylor – The One Foolproof Way to Prevent a Broken Heart

Facts & Trends – What will it take to plant 1,200+ churches per year?

TGC – Pastor, Don’t Be a Secondhander

The Blaze – Amazon is planning a big move that will affect American jobs in a huge way

Tim Challies – A Day With Amy Carmichael (EPIC: India)

BBC – How Do You Decaffeinate Coffee?

Babylon Bee – Local Man Quits Following Politics For Fifth Time Today

Babylon Bee – ‘Sesame Street’ Producers Deny Rumors That Bert, Ernie Are Russian Spies

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The Journal of Joseph Craig – Chapter 4

One of the great byproducts of the Internet and the digital age is its working in saving great books in history that are at risk of being lost. In my effort to research my ancestors who were ministers like myself, this work has become even more prescient to me. One of my ancestors (a Great uncle) was a man named Joseph Craig who was among the Travelling Church who came to Kentucky in 1781 fleeing Anglican persecution in Virginia. In the coming weeks, I want to offer his journal which gives a personal and unique insight in pioneer American Baptists life. Thanks to the Internet, is story is being preserved for future generations.

 

Chapter 4

As to my travels and standing with brother Joseph Bledsoe.[Joseph Bledsoe would later go to Kentucky in 1781 with the Craigs and the Travelling Church, where he would continue to preach.]

Brother Bledsoe made a covenant with me, that if I would stand with him in society, should be sure to equal with him in the work of the ministry, and to have every liberty which he had in society; which he was faithful to perform to me. In this society I stood, and I went about eight or nine times with him to the Essex meeting [Essex County] about sixty miles off, in one year. As brother Bledsoe had the care of a church in Essex, and brother Lewis [perhaps his brother Lewis Craig] the care of one in Spottsylvania, the persecution in Caroline [County] was great–

[Insert after Caroline:

Read: Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 5, 10, 11, 12-and 14th and 45th verses: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’s sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manners of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” But I tried to obey the 44th verse of this chapter: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.”

Here follows the 45th verse, as a reason for doing: “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”

O Persecution! What has thou done?
In ages past and gone?]

where I was was taken four times (by the civil officer) for preaching without legal license, as they call it, i. e. from the High Church of England. This was the common complaint. Once they put me in the criminal jail, where I sang about one hour, exceedingly happy-After which they let me have the bounds on bail. While I was there, I seemed as if I had said, “Lord, I have left all and followed thee,” and “proved my faith by my work”-and it seemed as if he had said, face to face, I can believe you have. After I had staid about three weeks there, I went to the outer part of the bounds, and sat down; and it seemed that, if I would look up, I should see the glory of God. Then I seemed near home! I said, with tears, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now?

One time I had preached, and after I had done, the constable took hold of me, and said I must go with him. I thought God did not send me to prison; and if satan did, I would not go, if I could help it. I said I would not go before T__. That warrant said, “he should bring me before him or some other magistrate in the country.” I would go before Mr. H.–. I thought the Lord let me know the prince of this world cometh. One man said, come, go away. The constable had then let me go. I said to the man, you must go with me. We went out at the other door-some one shut the door by the house stable. The constable thought I was in the house but I had gone out the other door, and into the woods. T__ and his company came and hunted the closets and rooms but found me not.

I had an appointment for meeting next day below, in my way to Essex; and when I got there, I thought, if war was fashionable, that I would try and war a good warfare; and, as I had gotten into it, I did not care how much I suffered for the Lord’s sake; and I concluded that they might do their worst, and I would try and do what I could for the Lord. And surely I did cry aloud that day! And we had a good time. And on another day, I was at meeting in the same county, and had been speaking (or preaching).

The constable came, and some big men with him. He came round the company, and took hold of me. I asked him to let me get done the hymn which we were singing. He stood and held me by the arm. He then led me along the way, to carry me to prison. The congregation were all moved along-some began to exhort the constable to take care what he did; and then some of the congregation did praise the Lord aloud! They led me about three miles, to T__, and sat with me awhile and then they went away. At dusk I was conducted into an upper chamber, and they took my four penny knife from me, for fear I might kill some of them! I slept but little that night. In the morning the constable and company were in the porch talking. As I was in the hall, and the other room, I thought they had forgotten me. I might, perhaps go away. I went out of their sight–they did not mind me–I feared to be my own jailer–I would try to go off–I could run to meeting better than home–I thought I would try to get off from among them. I got about fifty yards, and one gave an alarm, Craig is gone.

In one minute a gang of men, some on horseback, and a gang of dogs, of different sizes, were after me. I thought they should catch me, if they could; but, if they did, they should have a race for it. I ran steadily on, and got into the woods; but the dogs followed me true–I tried to dodge them, but in vain–I spoke to them but had to stop; they would give no quarters. The men came up and one of them took me by the hair, and raised his fist to strike me; but his companion caught his hand. They led me to the house, and commanded me to prison. I got on my horse, with one brother behind me. I said I must keep my conscience clear, or I should fail into keen despair–I did not care about life or death. The man behind me said I should do as I pleased. I got out at the gate, alighted down from my horse, and stood still. The constable asked what ailed me–was I sullen? I told him I would have no hand in carrying Joseph Craig to prison. He then came and sat me on my horse; his companion came with a rope, and tied my feet together under my horse, which hurt me considerably; and he took hold of the bridle, and led my horse almost ten miles. Being now near the prison, the rope being stiff, untied, and I thought the Lord let me know I was free–so I observed to the constable.” Do you remember Pilate took water and washed his hands, and said he was clear of the blood of that just person?” He said he did. I told him he was now carrying me to prison–that I had a wife and children to take care of. He said he would not do anything to hurt me, but only to clear himself of the law. So, when we got to the prison, he put me in, but the door would not lock-so that night I set off toward home; and so got clear of them for that time &c &c &c.

For more:
“Esteem Reproach” by Harper & Jacumin: A Review

“Baptists and Persecution in Virginia”: A Lecture by Steve Weaver
Elijah Craig: A Biography Written By James B. Taylor

All Around the Web – September 21, 2018

AATWJoe Carter – How to Help Prevent Your Child from Becoming an Atheist

Ross Douthat – The Pro-Life Movement’s Kavanaugh Dilemma

Stephen McAlpine – Gen Z and Religion: “It’s All Good”

New Yorker – The Unlikely Endurance of Christian Rock

Crossway – 10 Things You Should Know about Scientism

Thom Rainer – Eight Areas Where Many Ministers Are Unprepared for Ministry

Chuck Lawless – 11 Characteristics of Spiritually Weak Christian Leaders

Facts & Trends – Finding Ways to Best Love Those With Alzheimer’s

Tim Challies – The Joys (and the Limitations) of Male-Female Friendships

RT – Bert & Ernie ‘were gay couple,’ reveals Sesame Street writer

Babylon Bee – 9 Things We’re Looking Forward To In Heaven

Babylon Bee – John Kerry On Possible 2020 Run: ‘I Won’t Rule Out Another Dramatic And Humiliating Loss’

The Apostle’s Creed: The Holy Spirit, Part 1

IMG_4991I believe in the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle’s Creed now turns to focus on the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. Before we begin our study, let’s turn to what is perhaps the most significant book on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit: Acts.

 

The Holy Spirit is Divine

One of the more striking passages is the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Yet here Peter equates the Holy Spirit with God.

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” (Acts 5:1-4)

 

Salavation is Tied to Receiving the Holy Spirit

Consider the following evidence. In 2:38, Peter says to the crowd, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Thus the sign of receiving teh Holy Spirit is not tongues, but repentance and faith.

Likewise, in 8:14-17 we find, “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”

Other passages to consider include:

  • 10:45 – And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the HolySpirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
  • 15:8 – And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spiritjust as he did to us,
  • 19:2 – And he said to them, “Did you receive the HolySpirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

Often the evidence of the Holy Spirit is tied to the work of grace in the heart of the sinner. Charismatics who suggest otherwise undermine the primary work of the Spirit: salvation and sanctification, not “showy” gifts.

 

The Hoy Spirit Inspired the Old Testament Writers

The apostles in Acts regularly remind us that their Bible, what we now call the Old Testament, was an inspired work – a work of the Holy Spirit. Consider the following:

  • 1:16 – “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the HolySpirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
  • 4:25 – who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
  • 28:25 – And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The HolySpirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

This is later applied to the New Testament in a number of places. Christ asserts the same authority for himself in the Gospels. In the Epistles, the apostles assert a similar authority for each other and even for themselves. This all culminates in 2 Timothy 3:15 which declares that all Scripture is “God-breathed” including both the New and Old Testaments.

 

The Holy Spirit is Necessary for Effective Preaching

Let the preacher be aware. If you want an inspired sermon, preach the inspired Word and trust the work of the Spirit. This is what the apostles did in Acts. Not only did they hold to a high view of Scripture, but the Spirit did mighty things in their preaching.

  • 4:8 – Then Peter, filled with the HolySpirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,
  • 6:10 (Stephen) – But they could not withstand the wisdom and theSpirit with which he was speaking.
  • 10:44 – While Peter was still saying these things, the HolySpirit fell on all who heard the word.
  • 11:15-16 – As I began to speak, the HolySpirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

In this context, preaching should be a humbling act. Let not the preacher be a manipulator, but a faithful communicator of God’s inspired truth. The Spirit will take care of the rest.

 

The Holy Spirit is Necessary for Effective Evangelism

If the Spirit is a necessary component for preaching, he is a necessary component for effective evangelism. We see this throughout Acts:

  • 4:31 – And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the HolySpirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
  • 5:32 – And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the HolySpirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
  • 8:29 – And theSpirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”
  • 10:19-20 – And while Peter was pondering the vision,the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”
  • 16:6-7 – And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the HolySpirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
  • 19:21 – Now after these events Paul resolved in theSpirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

Without the work of the Spirit, the sinner will by no means come to genuine repentance. So, like the work of preaching, evangelism is a matter of faithfulness, not manipulation.

 

The Holy Spirit is Necessary for Effective Church Ministry

If the Spirit is a necessary component of preaching and evangelism, he is a necessary component of the local church.

  • 6:3-5 –Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.
  • 9:31 – So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
  • 13:2, 4 – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the HolySpirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” . . . So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
  • 15:28 – For it has seemed good to the HolySpirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements:
  • 20:28 – Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the HolySpirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

So without the Holy Spirit, the church is dead regardless of their budget, their numbers, and their programs. Let us not be that sort of church

All Around the Web – September 20, 2018

AATWTrevin Wax – There’s Another Kind of Lust to Avoid, and It’s Not Sexual

John Stonestreet – Alex Jones and Free Speech

Eric Metaxes – A Pastor’s Suicide

Chuck Lawless – 10 Concerns I Have about Christian Young Men

Thom Rainer – Five Key Reasons Churches Become More Unified – Rainer on Leadership #468

Evangelical History – The Paradox of American Religion and American Secularism

Cripplegate – We Need to Change How We Pray

TGC – What’s Missing in Discipleship Today

LifeWay Books – Three Ways to Make Time for Reading in the Busyness of Life

New York Times – Leaked Google Video After Trump’s Win Adds to Pressure From Conservatives

Washington Post –  A private letter from Ronald Reagan to his dying father-in-law shows the president’s faith

Forbes – Raising Kids With Religion Or Spirituality May Protect Their Mental Health: Study

Babylon Bee – Socialist Leaders Clarify: ‘We Only Want Socialism For Everyone Else’

*Some strong language.

All Around the Web – September 19, 2018

AATWRoss Douthat – Conservatism After Christianity

Sam Storms – 10 Things You Should Know about Religious Pluralism

Tim Challies – The Bit of Heaven the Heaven Tourism Books Never Touched

TGC – How Porn Is Sidelining Missionaries

Crossway – The Biggest Detriment to Longevity in Ministry

Chuck Lawless – Monday’s Random Thoughts about Yesterday’s Preaching

Thom Rainer – Six Negative Consequences of Church Members Having an Entitlement Mentality

Facts & Trends – 3 Temptations When in Comes to Prayer in the Local Church

Reformation21 – Origen on Prayer

TGC – Racism Is Demonic

TGC – The Bible Is Full of Lies

The Economists – Why are so many teenage girls appearing in gender clinics?

Babylon Bee – World History Professor Opens Class With Trigger Warning For Socialist Students

A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through the Works of John Knox – On Prayer

In 1553, Knox wrote a rich treatise to the Scottish Kirk on the subject of prayer that is both theologial and pastoral. It is crucial to remember that Knox was preacher/pastor before he was a theologian and this work shows it.

He begins:

How necessary is the right invocation of God’s name, otherwise called perfect prayer, [it] becomes no Christian to misknow; seeing it is the very branch which springs forth of true faith (Rom. 10:10-13); whereof if any man is destitute, notwithstanding he is endued with whatsoever other virtues, yet, in the presence of God, is he reputed for no Christian at all. (source)

Shortly thereafter he writes what I believe to be the key sentence: “for if the fire be without heat, or the burning lamp without light, then true faith may be without fervent prayer.” (source)

From there, Knox precedes to answer a series of common questions some of which I will highlight below. First, a definition:

Who will pray must know and understand that prayer is an earnest and familiar talking with God, to whom we declare our miseries, whose support and help we implore and desire in our adversities, and whom we laud and praise for our benefits received. So that prayer contains the exposition of our dolours [sorrows], the desire of God’s defence, and the praising of his magnificent name, as the psalms of David clearly do teach. (source)

On persisting in prayer, Knox begins by noting, “Let no man think himself unworthy to call and pray to God, because he has grievously offended his Majesty in times past; but let him bring to God a sorrowful and repenting heart.” (source)

Later he asserts that not praying is an “odius” sin.

O! why cease we then to call instantly to his mercy, having his commandment so to do? Above all our iniquities, we work manifest contempt and despising of him, when, by negligence, we delay to call for his gracious support. Whoso does call upon God obeys his will, and finds therein no small consolation, knowing nothing is more acceptable to his Majesty than humble obedience (Jer. 7:23). (source)

He then discusses what we should pray for:

And if we truly acknowledge and confess this, let us boldly ask of him whatsoever is necessary for us: as sustenance of this body; health thereof; defence from misery; deliverance from trouble; tranquillity and peace to our commonwealth; prosperous success in our vocations, labours, and affairs, whatsoever they are; which God wills we [should] ask all of him, to certify [to] us that all things stand in his regiment and disposition. And also by asking and receiving these corporeal commodities, we have [a] taste of his sweetness, and are inflamed with his love, that thereby our faith of reconciliation, and remission of our sins, may be exercised and increase. (source)

To read the rest, click here. The point is to see how Knox’s theology is a pastoral theology. The great firebrand of Scotland was a pastor at heart and writings like this show that.

Volumes 1 and 2
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through the Works of John Knox – Volumes 1 and 2

Volume 3
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through the Works of John Knox – The Mass is Idolatry
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through the Works of John Knox – The Lord’s Supper
A Year in Scotland: Blogging Through the Works of John Knox – On Prayer

All Around the Web – September 18, 2018

AATWJoe Carter – 9 Things You Should Know About Hurricanes

Carl Trueman – The Aesthetics of Tolerance

Russell Moore – Trust Your Teenagers to God

Stephen McAlpine – Why Millennials ARE Coming to Church

Thom Rainer – How to Say No to Church Members – Rainer on Leadership #467

LifeWay – 5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor’s Wellness

Facts & Trends – 3 Leadership Lessons I Learned From Coaching

TGC – 4 Recent Books on Jonathan Edwards

Mashable – Weatherman dramatically braces for Hurricane Florence while 2 guys casually stroll by

Moneyish – We now spend more time on Netflix than we do bonding with our kids

Babylon Bee – Missions Trip Successfully Converts Entire Village Into Republicans

Babylon Bee – Incoming Planned Parenthood President Confirms She Has Acquired Final Infinity Stone

“Hillbilly Elegy” by J. D. Vance: A Review

Image result for Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and culture in Crisis.

I believe we hillbillies are the toughest . . . people on this earth. We take an electric saw to the hide of those insult our mother. We make young men consume cotton undergarments to protect a sister’s honor. But are we tough enough to do what needs to be done to help a kid like Brian? Are we tough enough to build a church that forces kids like me to engage with the world rather than withdraw from it? Are we tough enough to look ourselves in the mirror and admit that our conduct harms our chidlren?

Public policy can help, but there is no government that can fix these problems for us. (255)

It’s a dark secret, but an open one. White America, especially rural white America, isn’t doing well. Say what you want about inner cities, the African-American communities, hispanic communities, and all the rest, but it is rural white America that is in dire straights and it is only getting worse. For whatever reason (and I can think of a few) the story of the poor state of rural white America isn’t being told. At least not until the publication of J. D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Famil and Culture in Crisis.

If you only read one book this year, I hope it is this one.

Vance’s painful and honest story of growing up in Middletown, OH in a family truly from Jackson, KY is an all too common one. The story involves the full gauntlet of what too many children suffer through: broken homes, a revolving door of father figures, abuse, perpectual poverty, inadequate schools, constant moving, no boundaries, one or more parent(s) being arrested, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, bullying, and an absentee father.

Much of rural white America is a mess. Vance’s story is one of a family that emmigrated from Jackson, KY to Middletown, OH in pursuit of better job opportunities and found it. Yet instead of discovering the ever elusive American dream, it turned into an American nightmare. What Vance discovers is that economic opportunity and economic advancement cannot save.

Throughout the story, the author pauses to explore the similarity of his story with other white Americans. The screaming matches in his home(s) were common in his neighborhood. The police that carted his mother away kicking and screaming made frequent visits to his friends house to do the same. The drug problem that reared it’s ugly head in his family, did the same in his neighborhood.

Vance shines a light on this open, dark secret that no one has been willing to talk about. Recent studies have shown that life expectancy among white Americans is dropping for a number of reasons: drug abuse, obesity-caused deaths, and other decisions. Vance explores many of these as his own story unfolds.

Yet what I found striking is the cause and the clear cure: a stable home. The common factor in all of these examples, including his own, was the instability at home. Politicians can talk about great schools with the latest gimmicks and new roads and economic opportunities but if a child is not loved by both mom and dad, what good is it. Vance confesses his longing for a father who loved him and embraced him when he came home for school. Had it not been for his grandmother he managed to live with his last three years of high school, he would have never escaped. Instead, he’d be another statistic.

To repeat the above quote, are hillbillies strong enough to overcome these obstacles? To lay down the alcohol and the drugs and the pain pills for the sake of their community? Is the church strong enough? I sure hope so.

 

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