A Tale of Two (Southern Baptist) Colleges

AlbertMohler.com – A Tale of Two Colleges.

From a post earlier this month (Nov.8, 2011) Dr.A. Mohler compares and contrasts the recent directions of two colleges with traditional ties to Southern Baptist conventions. While one college (Mercer Univ.) has moved further away from its Christian roots, the other (Shorter Univ.) has moved closer to its Christian roots. And the issue that has occasioned these moves? What else but homosexuality. Mohler not only reports on these interesting trends, but draws out some important lessons as well. They are important not just for Christian higher education but also for all levels of Christian education. Here are just a few of his comments. Read the full post at the link above.

Shorter University and Mercer University are institutions of higher education in Georgia, and both have been historically related to the Georgia Baptist Convention — the state’s largest Baptist group. Both schools have been in the news in recent days over the issue of homosexuality. Seen together, the actions taken by the schools point backwards to critical decisions made in the past, forward to issues that will be faced by every college, and directly to the present, where the future is taking shape before our eyes.

At the end of October, the trustees of Shorter University, located in Rome, Georgia, adopted a series of statements intended to protect the Christian commitments of the university. Faculty are to operate within the guidelines, which include both articles of faith and a “personal lifestyle statement” that includes an affirmation that the Bible forbids “premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.” Shorter President Donald Dowless said that the statements represent “a continuing affirmation of our Christ-centered mission.”

Within days of that decision, the administration of Mercer University, located in Macon, Georgia, announced that it was changing its personnel policies to allow for coverage of domestic partnerships involving homosexual employees. Mercer President Bill Underwood said that the new policy “brings Mercer into line with other leading private universities in our region, including Emory, Duke, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Tulane, Furman, Rollins, Elon, and Stetson.”

3. The issue of homosexuality now presents an unavoidable test of conviction for Christian institutions of higher learning. The pressure to normalize homosexual relationships and behaviors will be strong, and the cost of resisting this pressure will be steep.

The moral revolution on the issue of homosexuality has occurred with unprecedented speed. In a single generation, this moral revolution has produced nothing less than a moral reversal. What had been condemned by society (homosexuality) is now officially normalized, and what was previously normalized (the moral judgment against homosexuality) is now condemned. Adherence to the Bible’s authorization of only one context for sexual activity — monogamous heterosexual marriage — is now considered a radical and regressive moral judgment.

The pressures faced by Christian colleges and universities (along with seminaries and private Christian schools of all sorts) will come from the academic guilds, accrediting agencies, student advocates, and the government, among others. Capitulation on this issue will be the admission price required for full acceptance by the secular academy, and the shape of full capitulation is not yet even clear. Where same-sex marriage is legalized, a host of other challenges will come. Over time, the issue of homosexuality may well represent the greatest challenge to religious liberty of our times.

Mercer University and Shorter University represent opposite trajectories on the landscape of American education. Given the decisions made by these two schools in recent days, Mercer will receive the applause of the secular world, while Shorter will bear derision. The church had better take a good look at these two trajectories and understand what is at stake.

What comes quickly into view is the tragic cost of losing one school, and the necessary cost of recovering another.

And a Little Library Humor

Also for our lighter side today we include a few humorous library cartoons from the website “Libraryworks.com”. Enjoy!

 

 

Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 4:04 AM  Leave a Comment  

Angry Birds and Silly People

Angry Birds downloads pass half-billion mark | ITworld.

This is intended to be part of “Friday Fun”, but statistics like this really aggravate me. Seriously, over 500 million people have downloaded the game “Angry Birds” to their phones, tablets, Ipods, and laptops?! If this isn’t a commentary on our modern culture, I don’t know what is. Silly games that define people’s lives, detract from far better activities (like reading!), and demean birds. How bad does it get?! Should this news make one laugh or cry? Maybe it’s just (counter-cultural) me, but I don’t get it. Anyway, you can get a good laugh out of it – or me – for your Friday Fun :)

Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 3:40 AM  Leave a Comment  

Blessed Thanksgiving 2011!

To all my readers, a blessed Thanksgiving! May our sovereign God and His abundant mercy to us sinners in Jesus Christ be the focus of our gratitude and giving of thanks on this day. It is my prayer that you enjoy a day of feasting on God’s goodness with family and friends.

100. Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

2Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

 

From The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (A.Bennett, Ed.; Banner of Truth, 1975)

Praise and Thanksgiving

O MY GOD,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unseal,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing sense to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrow and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou are to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

And last night I came across this paragraph while reading in D.Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison (he is reflecting on all the gifts he received from family and fellow-saints while in prison – letters, food, books, etc.):

It’s a strange feeling to be so completely dependent on other people; but at least it teaches one to be grateful, and I hope I shall never forget that. In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. It’s very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe to others (p.109).

Consider Jesus in Thanks and Praise

From the (Monergism/Kindle) book Consider Jesus: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering, by Octavius Winslow (1808-1878) comes these thoughts fitting for our Thanksgiving season:

Consider Jesus– in the Exercise of Praise

“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.” –Hebrews 2:12

These are the words of Jesus quoted by the apostle from a prophetical psalm concerning Him. We have considered Him as teaching us by His example to pray; it may promote our personal holiness by considering Him as teaching us to PRAISE. Praise is an element of the gospel. It entered essentially, if not prominently, into our Lord’s personal life. “A man of sorrow,” though He was–oftener seen to weep than to smile–yet there were moments when gleams of joy shone upon His soul, and strains of praise breathed from His lips. Our Lord was of a THANKFUL spirit, and a thankful spirit is a praiseful spirit. How often the words were on His lips, “I thank You, O Father.” He thanked God for the sovereignty of His grace for manifesting Himself to His disciples, for the food He was about to distribute, and over the grave of the friend He was about to raise from the dead. In all things Jesus was of a thankful, and therefore of a praiseful spirit.

And so, my soul, should you be! You have everything to praise God for. For the GLORIOUS GOSPEL of the blessed God; which, in the blessed announcements it makes of full pardon, of free justification, of gracious adoption, of present grace and future glory–is praise, all praise, eternal praise. There is not one announcement in the gospel to dishearten or repel a poor, penitent sinner. To such it is a ‘joyful sound’ without one jarring note, a salvation without a condition, a righteousness without a work, a pardon without money, a heaven without human merit or purchase–all the free gift of God’s most free and unmerited grace. Is not this sufficient to awaken the deepest gratitude and the loudest praise in your soul?

And, O my soul! what shall be said of the praise due from you for the GIFT OF JESUS? Can you think of Him for a moment, and not feel your whole soul thrilling with thanksgiving and tremulous with praise? Oh, praise God for Jesus–for such a divine yet such a human Savior–for such a life, for such a death, for such a righteousness, and for such an Atonement as His. Is there no deep response of your heart to the thankful, praiseful words of the apostle–“Thanks be unto God, for His unspeakable gift?” Oh, praise Him for such a lovely and loving, for such a gracious and precious Savior, but for whom, you had been lost forever!

Octavius Winslow. CONSIDER JESUS: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering (Kindle Locations 699-717). Monergism Books.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2011 Deals for Christians

Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2011 Deals for Christians | Challies Dot Com.

 

Reformed blogger Tim Challies is again putting together a nice list of the best deals on Reformed and Christian resources (books/videos, etc.) for this coming Friday (“Black” Friday) and next Monday (“Cyber Monday”) as the holiday shopping season gets underway. This is his first listing, but keep checking in with his site as he will be updating it as soon as he gets further information.

 

I despise the commercialization (and materialism) of Christmas – and now Thanksgiving! – but also recognize that it is the season of gift-giving, and being Dutch (at least on this end!), we want the best deals. So, shop wisely, spend within your means, and get good books. And keep your spiritual focus where it ought to be – on Christ, the “unspeakable gift” of our sovereign God.

Published in: on November 23, 2011 at 11:57 AM  Leave a Comment  

Praying Thankfully: A Thanksgiving Meditation

Praying Thankfully: A Thanksgiving Meditation – Reformation21.

 

At “Ref21″Pastor Derek Thomas has a pointed and profitable meditation on praying thankfully. I have linked you to their site above, but include the entire (brief) meditation here. May it inspire us to true thankfulness before and unto our gracious Father in this Thanksgiving season.

 

Do you ever find yourself lost for words when it is time to pray? Most of us do.

All kinds of explanations can be offered for this experience, not least of which is the thought that anything we say seems so trivial and inappropriate when addressing God. We instinctively feel that we need to be better at praying than we are. So we try to correct this perceived shortcoming and find ourselves saying, “God will only hear me if I am better at it.”  But this cannot be right, for God hears the “groans” of his people when words are not forthcoming. At such times the Holy Spirit identifies with our groaning, “with groans that words cannot express” (Rom. 8:23, 26).  A mother can interpret vocal pronouncements of a child whose mind is impaired when, to us, the sounds seem utterly unintelligible; so the Holy Spirit fixes our groans and sighs on the way up to our Father in heaven.

If ever you find yourself at a loss for words, there is something you can do. Turn to the Lord’s Prayer. It is a model given to us by our Lord Jesus to help us pray. True, we can use it “as is” and repeat its grand petitions. But we can also use it as a model and learn from its structure and proportion how we ought to pray.

Martin Luther employed the Lord’s Prayer encouraging disciples to use each clause as a hook on which to hang thoughts of their own. From each clause of the Prayer, he recommended making “a garland of four twisted strands” by, (1) identifying the truth(s) taught, (2) expressing thankfulness for all the good gifts suggested, (3) confessing sin(s) that rise to the surface, and (4) petitioning God as needs come to our minds.

Since this coming week is the week of Thanksgiving, strand number 2 seems particularly appropriate. Perhaps it could function as a test of the seriousness with which we approach such a season. Before Thanksgiving dinner, why not ask each person to mention one or two things for which they are especially thankful? 

Let the Prayer itself be your guide.  Note that it begins – and stays – with God before it asks for anything. Too often we rush into prayer with our needs and wants. STOP! Breathe in the refined air of God’s presence. Allow your thoughts to contemplate who he is. He is praiseworthy. Already, the familiar words of a hymn should rise to the surface: “Praise my soul the King of heaven, to his feet thy tribute bring.”

So we thank God for who he is in himself. God invites our praise so that we may be reminded every time we come to him that “he is God and we are not.” Praise forces out selfishness and our in-built gravitational pull toward self-deification. As Calvin put it, our minds are idol factories by nature. Praising God is what we need to do and what we are so poor at doing. Listen to the content of much prayer and discover how poor we are in extolling God.

Thankfulness corrects such poverty. Be thankful, then, for God and your relationship with him. Do not make the fatal mistake of thinking that your relationship with God is directly proportional to the amount of theology you know and can debate. Knowing about God is not the same thing as knowing God. When we can say, “I know you, O Lord; and you know me,” it is a matter for which we must be truly grateful. Stand in his presence, or better, kneel, and say, “Father.” It is a breathtaking experience. What a privilege that is! The One who made the universe and holds it together is my Father in heaven.

            And your Father in heaven did not spare his Son.

            He gave him up to a cross-shaped death for us.

            What wondrous love is this!

Now thank him, with all your heart. This is gospel-shaped praying. We are thankful because of what he has done for us: he has chosen us, called us, regenerated us, justified us, adopted us…And we have only just begun the glorious duty of giving thanks.

Theological Book Network offers materials to libraries worldwide

Theological Book Network offers discount religious, academic materials to libraries worldwide | MLive.com.

Ever wondered what happened to new and used theological books that don’t sell well, or are donated by people, or have served their purpose in someone’s library, whether private or public? Old books never die – they have a perpetual shelf life! There are libraries and seminaries throughout the world that would love to have old or new books at a discount, and that’s why the Theological Book Network right here in Grand Rapids, MI exists – to match good theological books with needy professors and students in other parts of the world. This interesting story about their work appeared in the Grand Rapids Press Sat., Nov.12, 2011. While we may not agree with all they do (why not just send out the best Reformed books?!), nevertheless one can appreciate their role and ministry. You will find the full story about their work at the link above. Below is the first part of it.

 

GRAND RAPIDS — There are some books destined to become best sellers and others only a handful of readers will crack open. The Theological Book Network Inc. helps find new homes for some of those dusty tomes in far-flung corners of the world.

Walk through the nonprofit’s 16,000-square-foot warehouse at 3529 Patterson Ave. SE and any staff member quickly will tell you why it considers its roughly 250,000 to 325,000 donated and newly purchased books and journals academic gold.

All of them are apt to one day find a home in Protestant and Catholic seminaries, colleges and universities in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East to provide theological training to seminary and post-graduate students who will go on to become clergy and other church leaders, said Kurt Berends, executive director of the Theological Book Network.

But these educational institutions often can’t afford to buy new books. That’s where the Network steps in, supplying them at a fraction of the cost. But that doesn’t mean the Network gives them away, Berends said. Each seminary, college or university is asked to make some sort of “pledge” that may include driving hundreds of miles from their respective school to pick up their shipment of books or pay a stipend of varying amounts.

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 11:56 AM  Leave a Comment  

Our Need of “God’s Hammer”

God’s Hammer by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

Also from this month’s Tabletalk is this fine article by R.C. Sproul, Jr. titled “God’s Hammer”. I urge you to read it in its entirety (it is short and will only take a few minutes). Here are a few paragraphs from it. I for one need this reminder of what God’s Word must do in my own heart and life.

We come to our Bibles with this most fundamental presupposition—whatever the Bible may be saying, it can’t be telling me that my life needs to be fundamentally changed. Wherever the Bible calls for such change, it must be addressing someone else. Out of this presupposition flows what I call “the diabolical art of simultaneous translation.” This is what happens when our eyes roam across the very words of God in Scripture, but our minds change what we read into something safe, something reasonable, something inoffensive. Jesus, for instance, tells us not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear, that this is what the Gentiles worry about, and that we ought to know that we are under God’s care. What our minds hear is something like this: “Those people who are more prosperous than I am need to stop worrying about money. When I get as prosperous as they are, I will be pious enough to no longer worry. Those worrying prosperous people really ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and we hear: “Those people who don’t believe, who aren’t in the kingdom, who don’t have the righteousness of Christ, need to get serious about pursuing these things. Thank heaven I already have this covered. Because I have already done this, I can now devote my time to something important, worrying about what I will wear and what I will eat.” When the Bible steps on our toes, we try to quietly tiptoe away. What we’re supposed to do is face our sins. What we’re supposed to do is repent and believe.

…The Word of God consists of the words of God. Their meanings tell us what His meaning is. They are little mirrors that build the big mirror. They are also, however, little hammers that together make up the sledgehammer God uses to smash our recalcitrant hearts. Because our hearts are hard, we insist on soft words. When alone with our Bibles, we soften our Bibles, translating our hammers into pillows. When in the pew on Sunday morning, we insist on preaching that does not offend, that does not confront, that does not strike, that rests lightly on our stony hearts.

God’s hammer smashes not just the icons of the world around us; it also smashes the idols of my heart. It is hard, heavy, even painful, precisely because of the love of the One who wields it. He has promised to forgive me for my hard heart but has also promised to soften it. He has promised to beat it into submission. As He pounds my heart, He, in turn, opens my ears. Thus, we move from grace to grace, from life to life, from faith to faith.

Don’t Wander from the Assembly!

From this month’s Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries’ devotional), the weekend devotional for November 5-6 was written by Rev.Nicholas T. Batzig and titled, “The Peril of Wandering”. Fitting for our post-Sunday week are these thoughts:

…The gathered assembly is a primary means by which Christ’s people advance in their pigrimage because it is the primary place where God’s Word is ministered. At Sinai, Israel received the Word of God. The Word was to be the sole guide for thir widerness journey. With the elders of Israel, Moses was entrusted with ministering the oracles of God to the assembly. In the same way, the elders of the new covenant church have been entrusted with the ministry of God’s Word (Heb.13:7; 17). If we neglect the assembly, we neglect the elders. If we neglect the elders, we neglect the Word of God. If we neglect God’s Word, we will ‘fall in the wilderness’ (3:17).

The elders are not, however, the only ones called to care for the assembly. All members of the church are given the command to ‘consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near’ (10:23-24). These verses explain that the fifty-five ‘one-another passages’ in the New Testament are to be carried out in the gathered assembly. Gathering to worship the Savior (12:18-24), we exhort one another to hold fast to Him (3:6; 4:14; 6:19; 10:23). The mutual exhortation of the saints  keeps us on the safe path. There is a danger in neglecting this all-important grace. The writer alludes to this when he adds the sobering phrase, ‘as is the habit of some’ (10:25).

One of the surest ways to press on in our spiritual pilgrimage is to stay with the assembly. One of the surest ways to forfeit the promised rest (chap.4) is to wander from the assembly. If we do, we will wander into the wilderness to die the spiritual death of unbelief. So, let us keep on ‘encouraging one another…as we see the Day drawing near.’

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