Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2010 Vacation Bible School

Here's a summary of last week's Vacation Bible School. This article and photo appeared in today's edition of the Hi-Desert Star.

Children entering First Southern Baptist last week were greeted by a 12-foot barn, pine trees, western murals, and a life-size ranch fence. The words “Saddle Ridge Ranch” were emblazoned across the large archway, welcoming kids into the 2010 Vacation Bible School.

On June 21-25, the church hosted games, crafts, music, and a Bible story each morning for local children. Families were invited back Friday night at 6 pm for Family Fun Night. Over 120 people attended the free BBQ followed by a closing concert and awards ceremony.

“This was a very special year for us,” said Pastor Stephen Jones. “We had record-breaking attendance and were able to make many new friends in the community. Both the kids and their parents were so enthusiastic. We give all the glory to God.”

Throughout the week, boys and girls competed to see who could bring the most missions offering. The boys barely edged out the girls on Friday, together raising over $240 for the Haiti Response Fund to provide food, water, medical supplies, and shelter for earthquake victims in Haiti.

Planning for next year’s VBS is already underway. The theme will be “The Big Apple Adventure,” featuring the sights and sounds of New York City.

First Southern Baptist Church is located at 56374 Onaga Trail in Yucca Valley. For more information about their regular services and kids programs, please call (760) 365-5771 or visit

Monday, June 28, 2010

Resolved 2011 Discount

I didn't get to attend the 2010 Resolved Conference which finishes up today, but they're offering an incredible rate of $100 for early registrants to next year's conference. This discount expires tomorrow. I presume it's going to be in Palm Springs again, though I don't know this for sure. Here's the announcement:

Resolved 2011 will be held June 24-27, 2011. Act fast to lock in your 2011 registration at a promotional rate of $100 per person.  This promotion is only available from June 25th thru June 29th.

To register at this discounted price, you will be required to first create a Resolved account if you do not already have one. Each registrant must register individually as group registrations are not available during this promotion.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Theology to a beat

The 9Marks ministry announced this morning that they have teamed up with Lampmode Records to produce a new hip hop album called The Church: Called & Collected. This looks great. Here's a description from Lampmode:
We understand both the seemingly controversial nature of "the Church" (especially among the Hip hop contingent), and well as the biblical imperatives concerning the Church's importance. We are simply offering our contribution to the conversation fueled a 9 Marks' book, "What is a healthy church?", written by Mark Dever. 9 Marks is an organization that helps pastors think more biblically about the church through emphasizing key values that the bible ascribes to a healthy church. So along with the Lamp Mode family, we teamed up with Trip Lee, Tedashii, Flame, Evangel, and more, to bring the contents of "What is a healthy church" to the hip-hop community. This is our attempt at communicating that valuable information to, and through, the hip-hop culture.

Here's the list of songs:

1. Take 'em to Church - God's Servant feat. Azriel
2. Expository Preaching - shai linne
3. Conversion - Trip Lee
4. The Good News - Hazakim
5. Membership - Stephen the Levite
6. Words from Mark...
7. Biblical Theology - shai linne
8. Evangelism - Hazakim
9. Leadership - FLAME
10. Words from Thabiti...
11. Church Discipline - Stephen the Levite
12. Discipleship - Tedashii
13. Beautiful Church - Evangel

You can purchase the album here, or click below to see a promo video.

The Church // Promo 1 from The Lamp Lounge on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bryant Wright, our new SBC president

The passing of the Great Commission Resurgence Report was undoubtedly the most newsworthy item last week in Orlando. But we can't overlook another important moment: the election of Bryant Wright as our next SBC president.

Ed Stetzer has written a great article explaining Bryant's positions and what his leadership might look like in the next year (or two, if re-elected for a second term). Here's an excerpt.
"Beyond GCR Structural Change / Focused on Spiritual Change” would have been the best way to describe Bryant Wright’s position.  Had he been leading the GCRTF, the changes would have been more radical.  He has called for a dramatic increase in funds going directly to the global field, has led his church to restructure its Cooperative Program funds to contribute directly to IMB projects, and he clearly communicated that the GCRTF report was a start, not the conclusion.
You can read his whole article here. Personally, I am thankful for the diligent labor of Johnny Hunt, and am thrilled to have Bryant as our next president.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Update from Ronnie Floyd

Here's an update from Ronnie Floyd, Chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. It will be very interesting to watch what transpires in the year ahead. Our prayers are no less needed now than they were in the past year.
We praise God that the Southern Baptist Convention adopted all seven recommendations of the GCR Task Force in an overwhelming manner.  With a 75-80% vote that affirmed these recommendations, Southern Baptists enter into an aggressive strategy to penetrate the lostness of North America and the world.  The hand of God led us through the challenges of the day that brought us to this defining moment.

God moving in response to the prayers of our faithful prayer partners for the past year is the reason for this incredible response from the Southern Baptist Convention.  The Spirit of God moved greatly among us and He was faithful to lead us through many challenges and over many obstacles.  Without question, the power of God was manifested among us over this past year.  Thanks to each of you for praying for us faithfully.

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest evangelical denomination in North America and, some say, perhaps the world.  On Tuesday, June 15, this convention of churches experienced a strategic directional turn to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.  What the 1979 Convention was to the conservative resurgence, the 2010 Convention has the potential to be to this Great Commission Resurgence.

The Southern Baptist Convention has issued the final word - they affirmed the GCR recommendations overwhelmingly.  The SBC entities will now begin to implement the will of the convention.  We must pray for them.  The Convention was clear - let's make the changes as recommended, and we must present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and make disciples of all the nations.   The Holy Spirit of God is our power to see this vision fulfilled. It is time for us to come together in love for the sake of the Gospel.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to the members of the GCR Task Force who sacrificed so much this past year.  They are a great people of God.  I love them and will miss being in contact with them regularly.  I want to thank Dr. Johnny Hunt for his spiritual and futuristic leadership to our Convention and for appointing us to lead this task.  My deepest gratitude goes to my church and to the churches or ministries our Task Force members serve.  You have given much and we are thankful for you.  To my sweetheart and love, Jeana, who sacrificed so much, and to the other members of my family, thank you for your sacrifice.  I love you so much.

Let's take the challenges in the report and personalize them into our lives, our families, our churches, our state conventions, and our SBC entities.  It starts with me.  It starts with you.  Show your church the GCR five-minute video on a Sunday morning.  It will challenge them.

Thank you again for your prayer support.  I am highly grateful.  Now is the time to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.

Yours for a Great Commission Resurgence,
Ronnie W. Floyd

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

GCR passes

As you've probably heard by now, the Southern Baptist Convention passed the Great Commission Resurgence Report late Tuesday afternoon in Orlando, Florida. Tom Ascol has a good summary of yestserday's dramatic and historic events. Here's an excerpt:
I am convinced that the kindness and goodwill of Dr. Hunt and others on the platform ultimately won the day for the report. When the final vote was taken, it was an overwhelming majority that voted to adopt the report. I would estimate at least a 70%-30% margin.
I encourage you to read the whole thing here. And if you're still trying to figure out what the GCR report is all about, go check it out at 

Tomorrow, I'm going to the HolyLand Experience theme park with my host family. Should be a relaxing day after the past week's very demanding schedule. I'm bracing myself for the TBN influence. And having spent a semester in Israel, I know a theme park can't begin to compete. But I expect it will still be a pleasant and hopefully edifying experience.

Related posts:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Second SBC open forum

On May 18, the officers of the California Southern Baptist Convention hosted our second open forum. It's taken me a while to get around to this, but I still wanted to give a recap and reflection before the big National Convention in Orlando next week.

The purpose of these open forums is to continue the discussion Walter Price initiated last fall in his thought-provoking president's address. There is no real agenda. We're just trying to learn why many young people are tuning out from the SBC. We are reevaluating our goals and methods of cooperating. And we are simply trying as officers to put a finger on the pulse of our state and ascertain people's perceptions of the status quo.

Our second meeting in Fresno was very well attended, due in part to the many state staff who were present. But I was also pleased to see a number of central valley pastors and associational staff there. Walter Price, Blake Withers, and myself facilitated the meeting as officers. Perhaps the most positive comment of the day was from Howard Everett, a pastor who traveled all the way from San Diego to attend. As our meeting closed, he remarked, "This was the most encouraging conversation I've had in 17 years."

While our first open forum in San Diego centered on the need to update communication methods and  decentralize church planting operations, this meeting focused on mentoring, missions, and denominational involvement.
  • Mentoring. For quite a while, we discussed the need for a better mentoring process in our convention. Some encouraged the younger pastors to seek out an older pastor. Others urged the older pastors to make themselves more available to the younger. One participant said "any DOM would be thrilled to have a younger pastor approach them to be mentored." I believe that mentorships, both formal and informal, are critical for healthy churches and the future of our convention. But this is not something that can be manufactured from the top down. Every one of us needs to have a Paul (who is mentoring us) and a Timothy (who we are mentoring). I would urge a young pastor to seek out and put himself under other leaders he respects and has a theological affinity with. And I would urge him to waste no time in finding youth, college students, and young adults who he can invest in and disciple.
  • Missions. Matt Spradlin made an interesting point that there has been a shift theologically and missionally, so that young people are now much more existential. They do not merely want to hear about missions or send a gift off to some vague offering fund like Lottie Moon or Annie Armstrong. They want to experience it firsthand. They want to see it, smell it, and get their hands dirty in the process. I see two dangers with this. (1) It could easily lead to a form of narcissism where we only want to serve on our terms and be single-handedly responsible for changing the world. Or (2) it could quickly degenerate into a new social gospel movement. But there is also something to be celebrated about young people rolling up their sleeves and getting involved in the grunt work of missions, relief, and church planting. What we need to do is harness this energy and encourage these young people to be involved, not so we can feel better about ourselves, but so that the name of Jesus Christ can be heard and cherished by every tribe and tongue and nation
  •  Denominational Involvement. Some young pastors said the reason they're not more involved is because they really don't know what's expected of them. There really doesn't seem to be a need for them. Ben Holland noted there's no clear pipeline of how they can get more involved. There are no exciting openings for them to jump in and help out. Thus, they remain on the fringes. I think that many state associations could do a much better job of identifying and encouraging young leaders to serve in their association. Give them a job and let them loose! I personally have been blessed to help our Inland Empire Association in many ways, such as helping in their Summer Missionary orientation program, hosting a regional Sunday School training workshop, and teaching a seminar at the Equipped for Excellence conference. But I get the impression most other associations are not this proactive. I also think the state convention as a whole needs to find more opportunities for young leaders to be involved: helping plan  regional programs, assisting with our annual On Target and Tsunami conferences, serving on our boards and as officers, and assisting at the annual meeting. Walter has already begun to strongly emphasize this, and I hope our next state convention president will do much the same. Meanwhile, the younger pastors need to attend denominational events enough to build quality relationships and make themselves available for use.
Our next open forum will be at First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills at 11 am on July 22. Hope to see you there!

    God's wisdom revealed

    Last week's Q&A and the previous week's message on Baptism are now available on our podcast site.

    After this short detour from our regular exposition, we're heading back to 1 Corinthians next Sunday. We're getting ready to launch into chapter three, and I think it would be helpful to give a quick summary and review of the previous chapter:

    "Preaching With Power" (1 Cor. 2:1-5). God not only chose the "foolish" message of the cross to save us (1 Cor. 1:18), but He also chose a "foolish" method of delivering that message. Rather than using the clever rhetoric and slick packaging available in Paul's day, God deliberately chose preaching -- a completely counter-cultural method -- to communicate gospel truth. We saw that just as in Paul's day, our biblical preaching must be plain, Christ-centered, humble, and yet powerful. You can listen to this sermon here.

    "God's Wisdom Revealed" (1 Cor. 2:6-13). If God's message and method are so absurd, then who would choose to believe? Humanly speaking, no one. It's completely an act of the Holy Spirit, who reveals the "depths of God" to us. God's wisdom is infinite, and yet He has pulled back the curtain and allowed us to gaze into things once imperceptible. We should humbly praise God for what He has done in saving us through His Spirit. You can listen to this sermon here.

    "Why Do So Many Reject Jesus?" (1 Cor. 2:14-16). Tragically, the natural man continues to reject the wisdom of the gospel and to live for himself. But the spiritual man, i.e. the man who has the Spirit of God living within him, now appraises the true value of the cross and actually shares the mind of Christ. You can listen to this sermon here.

    We concluded our study of chapter two with several important applications:
    • Don't boast. This is the whole point of Paul's argument in these early chapters. The gospel should deeply humble us. We've got no reason to boast and quarrel. We are all brought to an equal level at the foot of the cross. Where am I manifesting pride in my life? How does the gospel confront this?
    • Don't budge. Our styles and preferences will vary according to culture, but no amount of style will ever make the gospel message more palatable to the unbeliever. We must staunchly defend the gospel and avoid anything that would water down the offense of the cross. Where have I been tempted to compromise in order to be accepted by others?
    • Do pray. If God alone can change the heart through His Spirit, we'd better get on our knees and pray brokenhearted over the lost. Oh that God would open their eyes before it is too late! How can I improve the frequency and fervency of my prayers for the lost?
    • Do prepare. The offense of the cross is not an excuse for unpreparedness. We must diligently learn the Scriptures, learn people, and learn common questions and biblical responses. We must be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. Where do I feel uncomfortable or under-equipped in sharing my faith? What can I do to change?
    • Do persevere. Don't grow discouraged because a person does not accept the gospel at first. Because the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16), we can expect that through repetition, perseverance, patience, and prolonged exposure to the gospel, that people will respond. With whom have I grown discouraged and wrongly given up hope?
    Photo credit: Ted Winder

      Monday, June 7, 2010

      West Coast Missions Forum

      Our Southern Baptist Cooperative Program is a brilliant way to fund missions, but the sheer size of the IMB and NAMB can make it difficult to know how a local church can get more involved. To help overcome some of these barriers, Immanuel Baptist Highland will be hosting a Missions Forum in September. This three-day forum would be a wonderful opportunity to learn more and network together. Here's the full news release...

      We gladly embrace The Great Commission, but it is a challenge! To find help in meeting this challenge please join us for Missions Forum 2010 West at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, CA on September 20 – 22, 2010.

      What is Missions Forum? Is for missions leaders whatever their title may be; pastor, missions pastor, minister of missions, lay missions leader, etc. Topics vital to missions ministry will be addressed. It is a time to share common challenges, victories, and to learn from one another. Missions Forum is a cooperative effort of Immanuel Baptist Church, IMB, and other Southern Baptist Churches.

      What are the basic aspects of the Forum?
      • Inspirational speakers: Dr. Rob Zinn, senior pastor at Immanuel and Peteris Sprogis, leader of the Baptist Union in Latvia
      • Breakout groups: Times of discussion in small groups where missions leaders can share experiences, knowledge and challenges on subjects vital to missions ministry. See a listing of topics on the registration page whose link is given below.
      • Networking: Ample time will be provided to talk one on one with other missions colleagues to learn and share.

      • Connecting with missionaries: For those looking for national and international partners, representatives from IMB and NAMB will be present to discuss partnering opportunities.

      • Ethnic specific sessions: Separate tracks for English, Spanish, and Korean/Asian based ministries

      Registration and other information can be found at:

      For additional details contact Dr. Rhonda Boggs, Director of Global Outreach, at 909-425-1777.

      Friday, June 4, 2010

      Need help with the California primary?

      If you're like me, you've pretty much blocked out the sound of the phone ringing at dinner time due to all the automated political ads. That being said, we've got a very important primary election next Tuesday, June 8, and I believe it is our duty to research the candidates and participate in the political process. Where should we start?

      After sorting through all the political mail I've collected over the past few weeks, I visited the California Family Council website. They have not produced an actual voter guide this year. However, they do summarize each state proposition and link to two helpful websites: and Robyn Nordell's California Election Website.

      IVoteValues is a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. You can find your own local election guide by clicking here. It is still quite vague since the ERLC cannot endorse any political candidates, and it does not give much information regarding local elections.

      The California Election Website particularly caught my eye. Robyn Nordell describes herself as "a woman with a passion for encouraging people to be intelligently involved in the political process, to stand up for traditional-family values, and to protect our precious constitutional freedoms. She values those candidates and legislators who operate from a pro-life, traditional values, and limited government perspective."

      From what I've seen so far on her site, I am quite pleased. Be sure to check out Robyn's One Stop Election Page with all her endorsements as you continue to research each candidate and proposition.

      And don't forget to keep next Tuesday's election in prayer. Very significant decisions are being made that will affect the future livelihood of California residents and even the freedom we have as Christians to share the gospel (cf. 1 Timothy 2:1-4).

      Photo credit: ladybugbkt

      What the GCR means for California

      Leading up to the final days before the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, the Pray4GCR team has been releasing a number of articles supporting the final Great Commission Resurgence Report.

      These articles are now streaming in via blog and email on a daily basis, from authors all across the country. They remind me of the federalist papers written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay circulated over two hundred years earlier, which supported the ratification of our U.S. Constitution. Like our Constitution, the GCR is a significant break from the status quo, but one that is urgently necessary. Unlike our Constitution, the stakes are eternal.

      Yesterday, California Southern Baptists were privileged to have our viewpoint represented by Walter Price, current president of the California Southern Baptist Convention. Here is his article in full, which gives one of the best endorsements of the GCR Recommendations I have heard yet. Thank you, Walter, for your thoughtful analysis.
      Last June I sat in the hall of the Southern Baptist Convention and joyfully joined what appeared to be 99+% of the messengers in affirming the motion to ask President Johnny Hunt to appoint a Task Force to study the work of our great Convention and bring recommendations for a better way to move forward in fulfilling the Great Commission. Many said it was a watershed moment in the life of the SBC. I agree. I pray that moment will overflow into this year’s Convention in Orlando as we give strong approval to those recommendations.

      One might wonder how we in the West could be supportive of recommendations that will so directly affect us. In fact, some would argue that we in California have seemingly the most to lose monetarily from these potential changes. So, how could we applaud the report of the Task Force? Let me explain. We can applaud the GCR recommendations because, from our view out West, we have noticed some things.

      We have noticed that the greatest need in our churches and in our nation and world is a mighty move of the Spirit of God in bringing true revival and spiritual awakening to our planet. How could we possibly do anything but join arm in arm with the GCR Task Force in praying: “Let the Holy Spirit come and take control and send a great revival in my soul?” We know that we each should ask God for a fresh kindling of holy fire in our hearts as we cry with the publican, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!”

      We have noticed that in California we have over 30 million lost people. 30 million! That is roughly the combined populations of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee. Clearly we can see the need to focus our energies in North America in the most populous areas with the least Gospel penetration. In California we live on the eastern edge of the Pacific Rim. The nations have come to us. Southern Baptists in our state worship in 70 different languages. Again, we easily identify the benefit of allowing those who are trained by the IMB to do people group missions wherever those groups are. We’ve noticed this job is too big for us. We need the help of all Southern Baptists.

      We’ve noticed that our global witness is diminishing even while there are still so many who have never heard the Gospel. We Southern Baptists always maintain that we have a heart for the nations. The younger generation of Southern Baptists’ hearts are truly broken for the nations. We simply must do what is necessary to increase our involvement to the ends of the earth.

      And, speaking of the younger generation, we have noticed that change must come or this Convention will die a natural death. The generation coming behind us is not enthused about the status quo of the SBC, they are not motivated by denominational branding. Theirs is a Kingdom passion to see the Gospel penetrate a lost world. They are interested in the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish the task of being real followers of Christ in a global generation. If we continue with things as they are we will find there is no one to whom we may pass the baton in this relay of redemption.

      So how can we applaud the GCR Report? The recommendations address each of the issues that we have noticed with positive steps. In fact, I believe the recommendations will result in even more resources funneling into California as Southern Baptists commit themselves to penetrating the lostness in this very unreached and underserved region. And we in California are committed to joining all Southern Baptists in channeling more of our lives and our resources into taking the Gospel to the unreached peoples of the world.

      What will happen in California? Well, there is one more thing we have noticed. We have noticed that our great and glorious God is in control. He is our Source; He is our Provider. He will give us wisdom in how to go forward. Whatever we might “lose” for the greater good of our partnership in the gospel we will “win” in our absolute dependence on the grace of God. Our prayer is that He will be glorified as all Southern Baptists come together for the taking of the gospel to a lost and dying world.

      Related articles:

      Thursday, June 3, 2010

      Kids worship CDs

      Last week in our parenting class, I mentioned a couple great resources for children’s music. Here’s some more information:

      1. Seeds Family Worship

      Seeds Family Worship was planted when worship leader Jason Houser was asked to write some songs to help kids remember the verses from his church’s summer Bible school. Jason began writing songs and singing them for the kids and families at church. The songs were well-crafted, catchy, and taken straight from scripture. Families liked them. . . a lot.

      From just a handful of songs, Seeds Family Worship was planted – providing God’s Word set to music for thousands of families all over the world. We are gladdened by stories of worship times at home, scripture memorized, and object lessons taught using Seeds songs. The fifth Seeds Family Worship album – The Power of Encouragement – has just released. In total, Seeds has grown to 58 portions of scripture set to music!

      You can stream and sample some of the songs online for free. You can purchase their CDs (there are 5 of them) here. And thanks to the Girl Talk blog, you can download one of their songs for free. (All this info was cut and paste from Justin Taylor’s blog, Between Two Worlds)

      2. Sovereign Grace Music

      Sometimes, kids songs can get annoying, being endlessly played in the car or at home. But I find these songs enjoyable for a long time, even after several repeated listenings.

      Sovereign Grace currently has two kids albums out right now. Click to learn more about their Awesome God album or the To Be Like Jesus album (which highlights a different fruit of the Spirit in each song).

      They are just finishing up a third album, “Walking with the Wise.” Bob Kauflin writes, “First, a little info. As the title suggests, this album will be 13 songs based on the book of Proverbs, with titles like Lazy Bones, A Cheerful Heart, To Tell the Truth, and Trust in the Lord. We try to aim our kids’ albums at  a 6-10 year old audience, although we’ve been told that older and younger children, and even parents, enjoy them, too. Since we’re aware that not every 6-10 year old who will be singing these songs has actually trusted in Christ and turned from their sins, most of the songs are more instructional in nature and are meant to teach truth as well as express a heart to follow the Lord. We also try to weave in the centrality of Christ and the gospel so that the songs don’t end up simply encouraging a moralistic response. You know, “Just do the right things and you’ll be a Christian.”

      If you join their Facebook fan page, sometimes you get free downloads and sneak peaks of new Sovereign Grace albums.

      Wednesday, June 2, 2010

      A special event for Yucca Valley graduates

      The following article appeared in today's Hi Desert Star. As a member of our local Pastors Fellowship, I have been honored to support and be part of this service the past few years.

      Everyone is invited, and I encourage you to attend. This year, one of our own church families will be having a graduating senior. We are praying this will be a great opportunity to praise the Lord and honor our local graduates.
      YUCCA VALLEY - Graduating seniors from Yucca Valley area high schools and their families are invited to attend  a baccalaureate ceremony at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Yucca Valley High School multipurpose room.

      Graduates should arrive by 3:45 p.m.

      The event is sponsored by the Basin Wide Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship and organized by the 2010 Baccalaureate Committee.

      The baccalaureate is a Christ-centered celebration to honor the graduating seniors and their hard work, commitment and accomplishments throughout their high school careers.

      Dress is nice casual and a dessert reception will follow the ceremony.
      Music will be provided by a youth worship team consisting of several graduating seniors.

      The main speaker will be 1977 Yucca Valley High School graduate and athletic star Shawn Nelson. Currently city manager for Temecula, Nelson will focus his message around two main points: live a significant life and don't lose heart.

      The Yucca Valley High School New Life Club, Yucca Valley EV Free Church, Hi-Desert Star, Copper Mountain Broadcasting and Z107.7 have provided support for the event.

      New Blog

      Today I'm closing up shop and launching a new blog called Pinch of Clay. You can visit it by clicking here . Please stop by and...