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Showing posts from June, 2008

One little meme

My good friend Bret Capranica is a pastor at First Baptist Church of San Jacinto. He recently "tagged" me with this meme:

In an effort to keep it simple, short, and easy to follow, I’d like to challenge you to quote one verse (not one chapter). And then say what the Lord has been teaching you in one sentence (not one paragraph). Then tag 5 peeps (you know the drill).

Thanks, Bret (I think). I really hope this won't set a precedent for lots of future memes, but just one little meme is okay, right? Anyway, here goes...

My verse: "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ." (Col. 1:28)

My lesson: God has called me to exalt the greatest name (Jesus) through the greatest means (preaching) to the greatest group (all people) for the greatest goal (Christlikeness) by the greatest strength (see Col. 1:29); what a privilege!

Tag, you're it:
John & Jessica Pham
Mike & Cheryl Prin…


It sounds like Pixar has done it again. Their new animation WALL-E is scheduled to open in theaters tomorrow, and World Magazine writes a very favorable review. From what I understand, the story follows WALL-E, a little trash compactor robot, who discovers a wonder for creation, a love interest in a girl robot name EVE, and a disappointment in human beings. "Because they live to be cared for rather than to care, the few human beings WALL-E meets have become, to use [director Andrew] Stanton's words, giant babies—literally feeding on milk rather than solid food."

This picture of a selfish, bloated humanity is not so different from David Well's description in chapter five of The Courage to Be Protestant. This chapter is simply entitled "Self." Wells may be a deep thinker, but he sure does seem to like short chapter titles.

First, here is a quick review of the book so far:Chapter one - Over the past 75 years, evangelicalism has divided into three distinct consti…

Vacation bible school 2008

We had a great week of Vacation Bible School last week. There were 40 kids who attended, and a total of 93 people came to the Family Fun Night on Friday. This was the first year we tried having our BBQ and music concert on Friday night instead of Sunday morning, and it was a big success. Here's an article I submitted for publication in our local newspaper, the Hi Desert Star:
Island music and children’s voices filled the air last week at First Southern Baptist Church as they hosted their annual Vacation Bible School. “Vacation Bible School is one of our favorite weeks of the year,” said Pastor Stephen Jones. “We love to meet children from the community and provide a place for them to have fun and learn about Jesus.” This year’s theme was “Outrigger Island: Living God’s Unshakeable Truth.”

Throughout the week, children brought coins and raised over $125 for Guide Dogs of the Desert. This organization based in Palm Springs breeds and trains guide dogs and then provides them free of ch…

Thoughts on dispensationalism

We're in the middle of Vacation Bible School at church this week, and there's no possible way I'm going to find time to read and write a chapter review of The Courage to Be Protestant. I do plan to get back to our book club, but it will have to wait until next week.

Meanwhile, here's a good article by Matt Weymeyer on covenant theology versus dispensationalism. Theopedia defines "dispensationalism" as "a theological system that teaches biblical history is best understood in light of a number of successive administrations of God's dealings with mankind, which it calls 'dispensations.' It maintains fundamental distinctions between God's plans for national Israel and for the New Testament Church, and emphasizes prophecy of the end-times and a pre-tribulation rapture of the church prior to Christ's Second Coming." [Note: not all dispensationalists are pre-millenial and pre-tribulational, though perhaps most are.]

While the rapture and…

Should Christians be cremated?

After the Saturday morning session of the Resolved conference, several of us went out for lunch and got into a conversation about cremation. I guess it's kind of a morbid dinner table topic, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Up until recently, I had pretty much decided cremation was fine for the believer. After all, cremation simply hastens the natural process of decompotion and returning to dust (Gen. 3:19). But a recent article by Russell Moore has me rethinking the issue a bit further. Here's an excerpt:
Of course God can resurrect a cremated Christian. He can also resurrect a Christian burned at the stake, or a Christian torn to pieces by lions in a Roman coliseum, or a Christian digested by a great white shark off the coast of Florida. But are funerals simply the way in which we dispose of remains? If so, graveyards are unnecessary, too. Why not simply toss the corpses of our loved ones into the local waste landfill? For Christians, burial is not the disposal o…

Heaven and hell

I'm attending the Resolved Conference this weekend in Palms Springs, California. You can view some great photos hereby Lukas VanDyke. It's nice for once to attend a conference in our neighborhood rather than having to travel across the country to go to it.

The theme of this year's conference is "Heaven & Hell." So far, we've heard from Rick Holland, Randy Alcorn, and John MacArthur. All have done a great job. As Rick said last night, if death is an unpopular topic today, hell is even more unpopular. Both in our culture and in our churches, we've concealed the reality of death and hell in a dark closet. Even heaven rarely gets the attention it deserves. I find myself knowing very little about heaven and rarely thinking or preparing myself for it.

I've already been admonished that I need to conduct my life and ministry with a greater view of heaven and hell. It's a dishonor to God and the gospel to avoid these weighty doctrines.

May all of us reso…

SBC resolution on same-sex marriage

This week at the annual convention in Indianapolis, Southern Baptists passed a resolution in response to last month's Supreme Court decision in Sacramento. I think it is a well-crafted document. It's an urgent call to action for all Christians to stand up for the biblical definition of marriage. Here's the resolution:
WHEREAS, On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage thus frustrating the will of the people who, on March 7, 2000, voted in favor (61.4%) of Proposition 22 which affirmed, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”; and

WHEREAS, This decision has dire national implications because California law will allow same-sex couples from any state to marry in California, return to their home state, and challenge that state’s traditional marriage laws based on the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, The United States Congress has repeatedl…

Donate to China or Burma

Some of you may be wondering how you can help the millions of victims from the recent earthquake in China and cyclone in Burma (Myanmar). Baptist Global Response is a global Southern Baptist relief and development organization started for these very kinds of situations. Through Baptist Global Response, Southern Baptists have already released more than $600,000 to help disaster victims in these two regions. This money will go toward food, water filters and purification systems, building materials, and healthcare needs.

You can make a donation by clicking here.


The movie Apollo 13 tells the inspiring story of a lunar landing mission that turns into a dangerous survival mission. Toward the end of the movie, as the three astronauts head back to earth, they find themselves straying off course. They have to perform a tricky burn to realign their trajectory. With their navigation system already destroyed, they must rely entirely on their quick reflexes and the naked eye. Their only reference is a portion of the surface of the earth. If the astronauts lose sight of that reference point, they will shoot off into space and face certain death. In a similar way, David Wells says in the fourth chapter of The Courage to Be Protestantthat most Americans have lost their point of reference and are suffering the tragic results.

To many people today, life is nothing more than a series of random, chaotic, and often cruel events. Why? Because we have lost sight of our center. Wells explains that rather than acknowledging God and ordering our lives around Him, &…

Are sermons irrelevant?

There's a lot of debate nowadays about whether preaching has become passe in our high-tech, low-attention span culture. Are expository sermons irrelevant? The Pulpit Magazine blog answers this question with some thoughts by John MacArthur on "Preaching and Postmodernism." You can check out part one here. MacArthur's conclusion:
The bottom line is that expository preaching confronts the amorality of postmodernism with an authoritative message of absolute truth. It’s not a question of debating. It’s not a question of trying to find some way to sneak that in. It’s an issue of confronting this kind of thinking with the absolute authority of Scripture and then letting the Spirit of God make the application to the heart.I'm looking forward to part two tomorrow. I also hope to post on Wells' chapter four on Thursday or Friday.

Marriage amendment heads to the ballot

From the coalition:
Secretary of State Debra Bowen yesterday certified the eighth initiative for the November 4, 2008, General Election ballot. The measure would amend California’s Constitution to define marriage as a union “between a man and a woman.”The response from the people of this state has been unprecedented in support of marriage’s legacy, by responding with an all-out volunteer signature campaign,” said Ron Prentice, CEO of the California Family Council and Chairman of the coalition sponsoring the amendment. “We’re so grateful to the over 1.1 million voters who signed the marriage petition in time for the November election. Passing this amendment is the only way for the people to override the four supreme court judges who want to re-define marriage for our entire society.”Please continue to give your prayer and financial support to this effort. For more information, please visit