March 2009


Conquering now and still to conquer, rideth a King in His might;
Leading the host of all the faithful into the midst of the fight;
See them with courage advancing, clad in their brilliant array,
Shouting the Name of their Leader, hear them exultingly say:

Not to the strong is the battle, not to the swift is the race,
Yet to the true and the faithful vict’ry is promised through grace.

Conquering now and still to conquer, who is this wonderful King?
Whence are the armies which He leadeth, while of His glory they sing?
He is our Lord and Redeemer, Savior and Monarch divine;
They are the stars that forever bright in His kingdom shall shine.

Conquering now and still to conquer, Jesus, Thou Ruler of all,
Thrones and their scepters all shall perish, crowns and their splendor shall fall,
Yet shall the armies Thou leadest, faithful and true to the last,
Find in Thy mansions eternal rest, when their warfare is past.

– Fanny J. Crosby

Lenten Readings-Final Week

Wed    2 Tim 2 A Good Soldier of Christ                                              Thurs 2 Tim 3 Equipped for Victory                                                       Fri Eph 3 The Eternal Purpose of  God                                               Sat Eph 4 Growing up together in unity                                                                    Sun  Eph 5 Children of Light and Love                                              Mon Gal 5 Faith Working through Love Tue Gal 6 Fulfilling the law of Christ


1609-Celebrating 400 Years-2009

1609-Celebrating 400 Years-2009

What did John Bunyan, William Carey, Charles Spurgeon, and Billy Graham have in common? They were all known as Baptists; four representatives from four different centuries sharing a common heritage.

One of the first celebrations is being held this Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky, sponsored by Campbellsville University and the Baptist History and Heritage Society. Dr. Bill Leonard, dean and professor of Church history at Wake Forest University School of Divinity will be the key note speaker.

The wing of the Church known as Baptist is as diverse of group of Christians as you will ever find. I personally trace my English Baptist heritage back to the 1600’s in London, and believe that one of the central tenants that you will find in all the different versions of Baptist faith, is the one related to the dignity and liberty of the conscience  in matters of faith. Of course they were all heirs of the Protestant Reformation and held to the basic Christian doctrines as taught in the Holy Scriptures. The Baptists were often called radical reformers and persecuted by the State churches.

All who know anything of the contributions Baptists have made to American Christianity as well as to the expansion of Christianity world-wide will want to join me in thanking God for His amazing grace to this part of His New Humanity. To God be the glory.

For Resources begin here, including history, theology, and examples of Pastors, Missionaries, hymn writers, and more.

The Coming of The Missionary Spirit- Roland Allen

 (abridged from Pentecost and the World)

The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the coming of a missionary Spirit. The Spirit stirred in the hearts of the disciples of Christ a great desire to impart that which they had received. He revealed to them the need which Christ the Redeemer alone could supply. He enabled them to pass on to others that Gospel which they had so generously received. He directed them to reach out farther and farther into the Gentile world, breaking down barriers of prejudice which might have hindered their witness, or prevented them from receiving into communion those most remote from them in habits of thought and life.


In the book of Acts, the gospel was spread not only by those set apart for this work, but also by the general body of disciples. After the death of Stephen “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word”, and the Apostles are expressly excluded from the number of those who were so scattered. In Galatia, after Paul’s second visit, it is said that the churches were established in the faith, and increased in number daily. From Thessalonica “the Word of the Lord sounded forth, and not only in Macedonia and Achaia”, but far beyond. The whole history of the Church in the early centuries witnesses to the fact that the disciples were missionaries to the nations among whom they lived.

This Spirit, the missionary Spirit, was given to every believer. Whosoever received the Spirit of Christ in some degree, if only by approval and support of the efforts of others, expressed that desire for the conversion of the world which the Spirit inspired. What was wholly unknown, what was unthinkable in the early Church, was that Christians should oppose, or deride, or even fail to support, men who were laboring to spread the knowledge of Christ in the regions beyond. Those that knew the Biblical narrative knew that God had the “ends of the earth” as His ultimate passion.

Not even the Judaizing party in Jerusalem did that. The Judaizers protested strongly against the form in which the Gospel was proclaimed to the Greeks; they sent out their own emissaries to attack, to undermine, and to destroy the influence and teaching of Saint Paul. But their opposition was directed, not against the conversion of the Gentiles, not against missionary work itself, but only against a particular form of evangelism which they deemed to be dangerous. It was universally agreed that the Gospel must be preached to all the nations. (see Luke’s statement from the resurrected Christ himself that is used to bring to a close his first volume- Luke 24:45-49)

All who received the Spirit of the exalted Christ were more or less conscious then of the missionary passion and impulse of the Spirit. They all truly obeyed the command of their Lord to go into all the world, for they possessed a Spirit which impelled them to desire the world-wide manifestation of their Lord. Now it is the world-embracing Spirit himself which obeys the command rather than the wandering body. Christ came into all the world, though in the flesh He never went outside Palestine. It is obviously necessary to avoid the mistake of thinking that the reception and expression of the missionary Spirit of necessity involves going on missionary journeys, or that missionary journeys are truer and fuller expressions of the missionary Spirit than any other. The Spirit of redeeming love is manifestly expressed as truly in striving for the salvation of those around us where we live as in preaching to multitudes across the seas. It is the reception and the expression of redeeming love which is the all important issue, rather than the manner or the form of the work in which that Spirit is expressed.

The desire produced by the Spirit for the salvation of the world may be expressed in any form of Christian activity; but that Spirit is not revealed to others with equal clearness by every form of activity. In the book of Acts, Saint Luke makes the revelation of the Spirit clear to us by setting before us the acts of those whose lives were devoted to what we, today, call “missionary” work. If he had dwelt upon the labors of those who were not engaged in this special missionary work the revelation would have been less clear. The work of those who organized the churches may well have been as true expression of the Spirit of redeeming love as the work of those of whom we are told the most. But if Luke had written at length of church organization we should have probably missed the revelation of the Spirit of Christ as the Spirit which labors for the salvation of the world.

By insisting upon the missionary aspect in the book of Acts, we learn to know the Spirit as the Spirit who inspires active zeal for the salvation of others which enables us to easily perceive the same Spirit in other forms of activity as well. We understand that the organization of the churches and the addressing of social conditions are equally forms in which the Spirit in us finds expression. Every form of work can be undertaken by that same Spirit, each individual finding his unique activity to best manifest that same desire for the salvation of humanity which the Holy Spirit inspires.

In this sense, if we believe in the Holy Spirit as He is revealed in the Acts, we must be missionaries. We cannot accept the teaching, we cannot believe that the one thing of eternal importance to our souls is to receive and to know this Spirit, without feeling ourselves impelled to the missionary task of Christ. We cannot believe that the Holy Spirit reveals our own need and the need of all humankind without beginning to feel that need of others for Christ laid upon us as a serious call to participation. We simply cannot believe that this Spirit is given to us precisely that those who so need Christ may be brought by us to find the one way of salvation for their souls and bodies in this world and in the world to come, without feeling impelled to present ourselves as His human instruments. We must embrace the world because Christ embraces the world, and Christ has come to us, and Christ in us desires to embrace the world.

Activity world-wide in its vision and intention and hope and goal is inevitable for us unless we are ready to deny the Holy Spirit of Christ revealed so clearly in the Acts.

Roland Allen was an Anglican missionary in China working with the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel. Later he labored some 40 years writing missionary principles, retiring to Africa, where he died in Kenya in 1947. First edition of Pentecost and The World was in 1912. 
-another selection from Pentecost and the World: The Sole Test of Communion
-for further reflection, The Embodying of The Spirit , A.J.Gordon
Spirit of Life in The Life of Christ – John Owen
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Athletic competition has long been present in western civilization. The use of the athlete competing for a prize was a common metaphor in the writings of Paul the Apostle.  The Gospel calls us to follow Christ- to engage in the race of Life.  raceThis race requires all the diligence and discipline of other human competitions but they are all entered into to gain “an earthly” reward. The race of Life is set before us to obtain an everlasting Crown of Glory. This race is the over arching theme of the Lenten readings for this week. Read carefully and thoughtfully.

Lenten Readings from Saint Paul– week 5

Wednesday- Rom 9  According to God’s plan        Thursday- Rom 10 The Obedience of Faith                                         Friday- 2 Cor 3  Ministry of the New Covenant                              Saturday- 2 Cor 4  Treasure in Clay Pots                                                Sunday- 2 Cor 5 Ambassadors of Reconciliation          Monday- Heb 12The Race set before us                            Tuesday- Heb 13Bearing the reproach of Christ

spring-breakI am happy to announce that the first signs of spring  are showing up here in the bluegrass. Not the full blown spring mind you, but just enough to set off the break from the dull routine of winter. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

The early spring bloomers are putting on a show, the trees are begining to show their buds and of course the birds that leave for the winter are back with their own special songs. The wife and I have already headed for the dirt piles and the flower beds. It all holds the promise of about three weeks of gorgeous surprises. By now you realize that spring break for us doesn’t mean the same thing as it did when we both in University. Now we wouldn’t even think of “going” somewhere else to celebrate the glad event.

Scripture readings from Saint Paul’s writings: Week 4

Wednesday – Heb 4   Be diligent to enter                                

ThursdayPhilip 3  Pressing toward the goal

 FridayPhilip 4  Rejoice Always

SaturdayRom 8  Grace and Duty of living by the Spirit               

Sunday Heb 8  The New Covenant                                               

MondayHeb 9  The Old is Obsolete                                              

TuesdayHeb 10  The High Priest over the House of God

More than ever, I am convinced of the wisdom, not only of nature’s own cycle of springtime & harvest, but of the churches spiritual cycle as well.


David Brooks and E.J.Dionne on Reinhold Niebuhr

Interview at Georgetown

I don’t know if you saw this or not, Krista Tippett’s interview last month at Georgetown. It was outstanding due first and foremost to the man they were discussing- Reinhold Niebuhr, one of America’s great theologians. And then there were the different faith traditions represented. And lastly, the amazing number of politicians in the last 40 years who were influenced by this man and his public ministry.

I have “Speaking of Faith” link over in the e4unity toolbag and I think you would enjoy listening to this entire program. I’ll add my own quote from the 1941 book, “The Nature and Destiny of Man”:

The general revelation of personal human experience, the sense of being confronted with a ‘wholly other’ at the edge of human consciousness, contains three elements, two of which are not too sharply defined, while the third is not defined at all. The first is the sense of reverence for a majesty and a dependence upon an ultimate source of being. The second is the sense of moral obligation laid upon one from beyond oneself and of moral unworthiness before a judge. The third, most problematic of the elements in religious experience, is the longing for forgiveness.

All three of these elements become more sharply defined as they gain the support of other forms of revelation. The first, the sense of dependence upon a reality greater and more ultimate than ourselves, gains the support of another form of ‘general’ revelation, the content of which is expressed in the concept of the Creator and the creation. Faith concludes that the same ‘Thou’ who confronts us in our personal experience is also the source and Creator of the whole world.

The second element in personal religion, the experience of judgment, gains support from the prophetic-Biblical concept of judgment in history. The whole of history is seen as a validation of the truth in personal experience that God stands over against us as our judge. The third element, the longing for reconciliation after this judgment …becomes the great issue of the Old Testament interpretation of life. The question is: is God merciful as well as just? And if He is merciful, how is His mercy related to His justice?

Because Christian faith believes the final answer to this ultimate question to be given in Christ, it regards the revelation in Christ a final revelation, beyond which there can be no further essential revelation. For this reason it speaks of Christ ‘as the express image of his person.’ Here the whole depth and mystery of the divine are finally revealed.”  (131,132-vol I, 1964 edition)

I think the Apostle Paul would very much be in agreement to these words. Niebuhr’s ministry in America spanded some very troubling times and challenges to people of faith. That’s why Krista’s assertion that Obama claims to have been influenced by his writings is of special interest here. David Brooks, a political analyst on the conservative side who is also Jewish, and E.J.Dionne, a writer for the Washington Post and a liberal, happens to be Roman Catholic. Both men share freely Niebuhr’s major emphasis on original sin in his analysis of the Nature and Destiny of the human family.

See also this 2005 program on the relevance of Niebuhr’s Theology

Why Hoard the Treasure?

I intended to only pass this on to some of my close friends and ministry partners, but I kept thinking “this is just too good to keep in a private stash!” So I want to publically invite all to aquaint themselves with this theme, this author, and especially this book. “Gospel and Kingdom“, by Graeme Goldsworthy trilogy is no longer available as a stand alone but is readily available in most on-line book stores as the first of a three book trilogy. The first link will take you to a pdf where you can read the first chapter about the Church’s historical use of the Old Covenant scriptures. In my humble opinion, this is an excellent resource for all readers of the english Bible, regardless of your faith tradition, and I wish I could tell the whole world about it.

Goldsworthy is not an American, but he did study in America under the late Dr. John Bright, a leading evangelical authority on the history of Israel. His doctoral dissertation was on the “Wisdom Literature” of the Old Testament and shows up as the third book in the Trilogy.

Fortunately there is a very good review available on-line of “Gospel and Kingdom” from which I will give you this tasty sample:

Jesus is the Temple and Zion is where Jesus now reigns at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:22). The “Rule of the Kingdom” (God’s rule) is testified in the Old Testament with the themes of covenant and kingdom. The great covenant summary was “I will be your God, you shall be my people.” This goal was implicit in Eden, and progressively explicit in God’s covenants with Abraham, Israel (Moses), and David, finally culminating in the prophetic hope of a “new covenant”- which would be written in the hearts of God’s people.

The New Testament shows that the gospel fulfills the hope of the new covenant by perfectly achieving what could only be foreshadowed in the old (cf.Hebrews 8-9). The New Testament also takes up the theme of kingdom by showing how Jesus, the Son of David, fulfilled the prophecies concerning David’s restored rule in his resurrection (cf. Acts 2:30-31,36).

But the kingdom is both “now and not yet” (p.118) and Christians live in the tension between the inauguration and the consumation of the kingdom. This chapter concludes with Goldsworthy’s assertion that “to see the kingdom of God we must look at Jesus Christ” (p.120).

The theme of the kingdom fits right into our Lenten readings from Saint Paul’s letters and one of the questions we need to ask is the one about “which” gospel he preached. I’ll leave a little hint where we will go next with that: read ACTS 28:30,31 and Acts 20:17-27. To read the complete review of Gospel and Kingdom go here.

Did Paul actually believe and teach this doctrine?

A careful reading of Paul’s letters reveals that he not only taught this as part of what Christ Jesus had actually accomplished, but that after encountering the living Christ on the Damascus Road, he actually lived this truth.  yearofpaulHowever, the sad truth seems to be that there have been very few since his day who appear to have believed it. As J.B.Phillips, in his book “Your God is too small” wrote more than fifty years ago, “The power of the dark old god, rooted no doubt in instinctive fear, is hard to shake, and a great many Christian writers, though possessing the brightest hopes of ‘life hereafter’ cannot, it seems, accept the abolition of death”.

Rev.Phillips was an Anglican Rector in London during the bombing of World War II, and started to translate portions of the New Testament into modern English for the youth of his church. Later with the urging of his friend C.S.Lewis, he published first one part and then another until it grew into the entire New Testament. Needless to say he was very well acquainted with the biblical narrative. As I picked up this little book again and read some of his conclusions, I was struck with how up to date it was for the skeptical society we now find ourselves in. Perhaps I will post more of his comments in a future blog.

Lenten Meditations: Week 3

 Rom 5  The Reign Of Christ

Rom 6  Dying to Live Free

Heb 2  Our Kinsman  Redeemer

Heb 3   Beware of Unbelief

I Cor 2  The Things of God Revealed

I Cor 3  The Temple God  Builds

Titus 3  Love and Kindness of God    

Readings from Saint Paul’s Writings

After one week of  meditating on chapters from Saint Paul’s epistles, I am having a very profitable Lenten observance. I have put a live link on the chapter to be read each day and if you move your mouse over the link you will see it takes you to that chapter over at the ESVersion of Holy Scripture. If you click on it you can read the chapter on-line or click on the listen option and it will be read for you. I find listening to God’s Word read very helpful.

I found at least one local church that has incorporated the observance of the “Year of Saint Paul” into their church calendar, Saint Paul Episcopal Church. I really like their introduction:

“It is impossible to overstate the effect and impact of Saint Paul the Apostle on the early Christian Church. His bold proclamation of the Gospel, his challenge to paul-called established thought, and his unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ changed the early Church and enabled it to spread to every part of the known world.

Our world today needs more Christians to act like Saint Paul. Our world, so filled with hatred, prejudice, violence, injustice, needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we don’t become a Saint Paul for our world – who will?

Our Year of Saint Paul will celebrate Saint Paul the man – his power; his accomplishments; his writings; his mission; and his ministry. We will stand ‘boldy before the Throne of God’ and take pride that our parish family is named in honor of this great Saint of an undivided church.”

Week Two:

Wednesday – I Thess. 4  Taught by God

Thursday – I Thess. 5  Preserved blameless

Friday – Rom 2  The Coming Judgment of God

Saturday – II Thess 2   Mystery of Lawlessness

Sunday – I Tim 4  Why Godliness matters

Monday –  Titus 2  Adorning the Gospel

Tuesday – I Tim 6  Lay hold of eternal life                                         

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