Sunday, June 30, 2013

Browns Creek Baptism!

Today after morning worship Dad and I baptized a new believer in Browns Creek.  This "deep hole" is on my parents' property just a short walk from Browns Creek Church of God.  It was a glorious day of God's great blessing!

This is the first time I've immersed someone outside of a baptistery.  This is the "old fashioned" way...and it felt good!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pastor Marc Adams and Wesley Free Methodist Church

I'm excited for a friend of mine, the brother that I never had.  Pastor Marc Adams will assume the senior pastorate of Wesley Free Methodist Church in Anderson, Indiana in early July.  I've known him for over 20 years; we were college roommates and ministered together across the country during the summer of '91.

In the name of Jesus I bless Marc, his wife, Annette, and the Wesley Church with great spiritual, numerical and financial growth for the advancement of the Kingdom of God!

Wesley Free Methodist Church
  • 3017 West 8th Street
  • Anderson, Indiana 46011-1903

Friday, June 14, 2013

Losing Our Leaders

Today I received a thoughtful email from a reader who enjoyed my post on the late Kenneth E. Jones.  It got me to thinking.  I lament the fact that, in our inevitable change as time continues, the Church of God (Anderson) is losing her statesmen.  As we as a church group age we are exposed to the larger evangelical world around us; that's not necessarily a bad thing.  However, there is something to be said for leaders (elected or informal) who helped us craft our identity.  Kenneth E. Jones was one of them.  I fear that with the passing of Arlo Newell we may have seen the last of our statesmen in one respect.

Though fallible men D. S. Warner, the Byers brothers, E. E. Byrum, F. G. Smith, H. M. Riggle, C. E. Brown (pictured right) and W. Dale Oldham, etc. gave us something.  They gave us cohesion; they gave us a common heritage and identity.  Today we're more apt to look to Francis Chan than a national leader (again, elected or informal).    As the years pass we leave our Church of God subculture and amalgamate into the larger evangelical world.  We lose something.

I'm not arguing that we didn't need to leave behind some of the teachings of influential leaders of old; I'm simply saying that we lose our story as we grow.  Again, it's inevitable.  But let's at least acknowledge the passing.

It reminds me of an event that happened some years ago as I searched for F. G. Smith's grave at Maplewood Cemetery.  It took a bit of doing; his grave was, frankly, forgettable and nondescript.  I had an epiphany as I stood there and looked at the ground.  The Anderson campground was bustling with folks there for the annual National Convention.  I was standing—alone—at the graveside of a man who, at his zenith, was the most powerful leader in the Church of God.   The message hit me: Life goes on.

I'm not saying authoritarian leadership or the church-historical method of interpreting the books of Daniel and Revelation are preferable.  But I am here to acknowledge the passing of our sense of purpose and mission. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bless Your Church, Campus & Land

Have you ever blessed your church—the saints who make up the congregation—and the property, the campus and land dedicated to the worship of God?  Speak your blessing out loud:

In the name of King Jesus the Just...
I bless our church with the manifest Presence of the Holy Spirit. 
I bless our church with grace and freedom from legalism.

I bless 
our church with the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.
I bless our church with unity and a feeling of goodwill and caring. 
I bless our church with the fear and knowledge of Yahweh. 
I bless our pastor(s) and leadership with the guidance, power and comfort of the Holy Spirit.   
I bless our church with irresistible human drawing-power where people seek God's Face.
I bless our church with many salvations, many entire sanctifications and many holy signs, wonders, miracles and healings.  
I bless our church with great spiritual, numerical, relational and financial growth. 
I bless our church to be the area where people have their deepest needs met. 
I bless our church with freedom in Christ and freedom from the evil one and his unclean servants with their devices, schemes & assignments. 
I bless our church with saints with generous hearts who give sacrificially of their time, talents and treasure for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Maurice Berquist, a late influential minister in the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), wrote a book called The Miracle and Power of Blessing. I don't agree with all of Berk's views or theological framework but it is a provocative read. You can read it for *FREE* online at this location.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Boyce W. Blackwelder on Justification by Faith

The late Reverend Doctor Boyce Watson Blackwelder (1913—1976) of Concord, North Carolina, remains one of the greatest scholars the Church of God (Anderson) has ever known.  Blackwelder wrote the influential Light from the Greek New Testament and translated the Letters of Paul.  He wrote a book on the apostle, himself, entitled, Toward Understanding Paul as well as Pauline commentaries.  He also penned The Four Gospels: An Exegetical Translation.  Blackwelder was responsible for translating Colossians for the New King James Version and served as an adviser on other passages of the NKJV.

In his work, Toward Understanding Romans, Blackwelder translates Romans 3.21-25a, 26b:
But now God's kind of righteousness stands manifested apart from law [of any kind], although it is attested by the Law and the Prophets.  Indeed God's kind of righteousness is through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is effective for all who are trusting [in him].  There is no distinction, for the whole race has sinned, and [man] continues to fall short of God's standard.  The permanent principle of justification operates freely by the gift of his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God openly set forth as the means of expiation by his blood, to be appropriated through faith...even while declaring righteous the person who places trust in Jesus.
You will never be declared "Not Guilty" of sins based on how good you are.  You aren't good at all compared to God's holiness.  Rather, you are declared "Not Guilty" by trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.