Monday, June 25, 2007

Compelled to Blog 2

What a great day we had at church yesterday!

I'm on vacation this morning, but I felt compelled to write a little note about yesterday.

First it was Pastor Shawn's first day. He did a great job leading our worship time Sunday morning. The choir was packed and they brought down the house with their opening song.

Right after the opening song we baptized two young ladies. One made a profession of faith at a graduation party a couple weeks ago and the other was witnessed to by one of her co-workers and brought to church. Isn't it so sweet to see decisions and baptisms like this almost every single week!

Stan Walter sang the special and it was exactly what we needed to hear. I love to stand and preach right after someone has sung like that and really pointed people's hearts toward God.

In the evening service, the youth led everything. I don't know that I have never been to a youth service so well done. The youth praise team and praise band was excellent. I'll have to admit I was a little worried about them going into the service, but I shouldn't have been. They were great. In fact I'm looking forward to us using them to help pastor Shawn lead the morning service from time to time.

Troy, our youth minister, preached his first 'official' sermon, but if you had just walked in from the street you would never have known he hadn't been preaching for years. He honored God with the words he shared and he definitely challenged the church. At the end of the service a fifteen year old young man made a profession of faith. What a great way to top off a great day.

Pray that this coming Sunday will be just the same...

Pastor Noel

Compelled to Blog

What a great day we had at church yesterday!

I'm on vacation this morning, but I felt compelled to write a little note about yesterday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Blog Post About A Blog Comment

My regular readers and fellow blogging friends in Ohio, Mississippi, and Alabama know I almost never post a comment on someone else's blog. Well, I broke my tradition tonight and posted a comment on a blog about politics at the SBC Convention. As a result, my blog is being flooded by hits, so the article below is for those who have clicked over from the other blog. If they will simply read this article, it will clear up any confusion (and maybe replace it with regret). For my regular readers, ignore this article...

Pastor Noel


The IMB doctrinal guidelines deserve SBC support
By JAMES A. SMITH SR.Executive Editor
Published May 31, 2007

It's time to move on.
That was the clear sentiment of the overwhelming majority of International Mission Board trustees May 8 in Kansas City after they convincingly adopted revised guidelines on baptism and on tongues and private prayer language used when considering prospective missionaries. The IMB vote came after a year-long study by an ad hoc committee of the board's Mission Personnel Committee, prompted by the controversy that had arisen after the initial action of the IMB in November 2005.
Having had the opportunity to personally attend four IMB trustee meetings during the period of the controversy over these matters, I emphatically believe it's time for the IMB—and the Southern Baptist Convention—to move on. Critics of the new guidelines, claiming that even in their revised form it is wrong for the IMB to establish doctrinal policies that are not addressed by the Baptist Faith and Message and who wish for an intervention by the SBC, are wrong on both counts.
(For further background on the IMB trustee actions, see the May 17 issue of the Witness. The revised guidelines are available on the Witness Web site,
I could not express the appropriate response to the IMB's action any better than Ken Whitten, IMB trustee from Florida and senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz. In an interview after the board adopted the revised guidelines, Whitten told me the "spirit of unity" on the board did not require "unanimity" among trustees, adding, "I don't believe that we have to see eye-to-eye to walk hand-in-hand." Although the issues addressed by the board are "very important," Whitten said, "I believe the spirit of the meeting was such that we're ready to move on and talk about lost peoples of the world and reach them and not have to go back and revisit some of these issues."
John Russell, vice chairman of the board, trustee from Florida, and missions pastor at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, told me as a "missions practitioner"—he leads his church's Global Reach Foundation which is currently working on 21 church plants—he supported the revised guidelines, although he opposed the baptism guideline in its original form. His amendment to the baptism guideline, accepted by the ad hoc committee, clarified the guideline so that pastors of missionary candidates would have an opportunity to work with the IMB to address any deficiency in the candidate's baptism experience.
Russell told me, "Now the local church gets the reasoning for the deferral or the delay and they can help work through it, pray through it, and seek the Lord on it." Russell added that he believes that there is a significant problem "greater than any of us realize" of churches failing to adequately examine prospective church members on the matter of baptism. "I'm not casting a stone or pointing a finger at somebody else. I think I have probably done that in churches I've been the pastor of or on staff with," Russell said.
The decision to change the baptism measure from a "policy" to a "guideline" was also important to Russell because it allows for "case-by-case flexibility."
Kentucky trustee Paul Chitwood, chairman of the ad hoc committee and Mission Personnel Committee, explained the rationale for the guidelines in his presentation to the trustees May 8. Although the committee found no "systemic problem with charismatic practices" on the field, "the rapid spread of neo-pentecostalism and its pressure exacted on new churches in various regions of the world warrants a concern for the clear Baptist identity of our missionary candidates. Furthermore, the diversity of denominational backgrounds among missionary candidates requires a clear baptism guideline to guide the work of our candidate consultants as they consider the qualifications of candidates."
Critics of the baptism and tongues/private prayer language guidelines have insisted that it's wrong for the International Mission Board to establish doctrinal qualifications that are not explicitly addressed in Southern Baptist Convention's confessional statement, the Baptist Faith and Message. But these critics—and I have interviewed all of the leading ones—have no answer for their own inconsistent application of this criticism. Although they claim that it is wrong to stipulate a doctrinal position on the matter of private prayer language since the BFM is silent on this matter, they have all told me that it's appropriate for the IMB to decline missionary candidates who believe in and practice public tongues. And yet, the BFM is also silent on that matter—as it is on many of the doctrinal issues raised by charismatic theology.
To illustrate the inconsistency in the argument, I have asked several critics of the private prayer language guideline whether it would be wrong for the IMB to reject a missionary candidate who believes snake handling is a legitimate spiritual practice, even if it is a private one. The critics agreed with me that it would be appropriate for the IMB to reject such a missionary candidate—and yet, the BFM is silent on snake handling.
The IMB baptism and tongues/private prayer language guidelines have ignited a broader debate in Southern Baptist life and played a prominent role in deliberations at the annual meeting last year and may this year. The rallying cry of critics is that Southern Baptists must stop narrowing the parameters of doctrinal cooperation, oftentimes suggesting that Southern Baptists should not stipulate positions for denominational employees on "secondary and tertiary issues."
The implication of such calls for our entities and especially our seminaries is dangerous. If, for example, seminaries may not go beyond the BFM 2000 in evaluating the doctrinal fitness of prospective faculty members what do we do about the myriad of crucial matters of biblical and theological importance that are not addressed (and could never be) in the BFM, but are certainly relevant when carefully selecting the right kind of professors in our schools?
As a former administrator and current trustee of Southern Seminary, I know how seriously trustees fulfill their duty of faculty election. Restricting trustees to evaluate faculty only within the BFM would severely undermine them and do great harm to our institutions. Consider, for example, just issues that arise from charismatic theology—it would be wrong to forbid inquiry of prospective professors' views on tongues, faith healing, "being slain in the spirit" or the "laughing revival," to cite a few issues not addressed by the BFM but are nevertheless unquestionably germane for teachers in our schools.
Although not quite as extensive as the seminaries, the range of appropriate doctrinal issues not covered by the Baptist Faith and Message to consider when evaluating prospective missionaries is nevertheless significant. There very well may be a good theological and exegetical argument against the private prayer language policy, but it certainly cannot be that the BFM is silent on the matter.
As to the baptism guideline, the critics have no grounds of objection as it regards the Baptist Faith and Message since the issues raised in the guidelines are clearly addressed in the BFM.
The bottom line is that the International Mission Board trustees—after an exhaustive study of the issues—have acted in a manner that is consistent with their responsibilities and, if asked, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention should not substitute their judgment on these matters. The trustees have come to a reasonable compromise on important issues. A compromise, I would add, that will not find total satisfaction from those of us who are very concerned about charismatic theology and would have wished for an even stronger statement on the matter. Such is the nature of compromise—and cooperation—in SBC life.
Ken Whitten told me, "I do believe that Southern Baptists at the end of the day trust each other. They trust their boards. They trust their denomination. They trust the leadership."
I hope he's correct and if the SBC does address these matters next month in San Antonio that it will affirm the decisions of the IMB. It's time to move on.

This article was originally posted at:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


... Pastor Wally led someone to Christ tonight on a visit!

... Hannah's dance recital was tonight. She did a great job. Her dance was before the intermission, so I didn't have to stay for the last hour and a half. I really like Hannah's dance studio and teacher (she takes ballet), but I just can't believe parents let their young daughters dance some of the suggestive dances that some of the classes dance. Call me old-fashioned, but I just believe there are some things girls shouldn't do.

... I got the ear tubes. They put in some special tubes that are supposed to last several years. Let's hope.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Bad and Good

My official day started off early this morning by a call from the hospital that Margaret Williamson had taken a turn for the worse. By 8:30 this morning, she had died. Her family was all with her. It was a very sad time, but we all had an assurance that she was saved and ready to go.

Yesterday, Gene Yoder died. Both funerals will be this Friday.

Afterward I left the hospital I had a funeral to attend, but the day improved from there.

Sam and I took Pastor Frederick to one of the Lifeway bookstores in Columbus. Pastor Frederick is from Kenya. In Kenya, he pastors a church and leads a training center for new pastors. He ministers primarily among the Muslims in the rural part of the country. We had a great time today hearing about his ministry and his church. When we got to the bookstore, he was like a kid in a candy shop. We were able to get him a load of books. He was so appreciative and he told us how pastors from all over will travel to his house to read and study those books.

It was interesting to hear his heart for evangelism and how many of those he leads to Christ have to live as secret Christians for some time because their family will kill them for being a follower of Christ. He told us about people who sneak out of the city and come to his services to worship the true God without being discovered by their families or the Muslim leaders.

It was also very interesting to learn that while their church is very different from ours, many of the problems they face are exactly the same as the problems we face.

Pray for Pastor Frederick and his wife that they will be a blessing to us and we will be a blessing to them while they are here. They fly back home at the end of the month.

Services went well yesterday. It was nice to have the Ferguson family in our morning service and for the dedication of the prayer garden. I hear they all made it safely home.

Well, tomorrow, I get tubes in my ears for the second time in six months. I got them back in December to alleviate a problem that keeps me from flying. The doctor told me then that they would come out in six months to two years. Well they got me through a flight in December and another flight in February, but I discovered on a flight last month that something had gone wrong. A physician in the church used his otoscope Sunday night to confirm that the tubes were gone. So after calling half the ENT's in Ohio, I found one that would see me tomorrow and put more tubes back in. Pray that these will stay in a little longer. It's not a fun (or cheap) procedure.

I'm first place in my fantasy baseball league. It won't last, so I have to brag while I can. I know the only reason they asked me to play was so they would have an easy team to beat every few weeks. I know nothing about baseball. I couldn't even tell you the name of one of my players. But I do know a little about statistics :), and ultimately this is not a baseball game, it is a game of probability and statistics. So, I should more accurately say I'm winning the 'Fantasy Math Game.'

Well, it's bed time.