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Man Abased and God Exalted

We want nothing but to behold the glory of God and to see him exalted by all, and everywhere, to be happy. When I read the descriptions of the heavenly world, I see nothing so prominent as these two great truths: Man abased and God exalted….Behold! ‘what hath God wrought?’ – Gardiner Spring, quoted in Iain Murray, Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858, p. 345

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Life of Washington Tour, Sept. 6 – 11

In September, Hope Baptist Church is traveling to study the history of this country around the time of the founding fathers by considering the life of George Washington. By putting people on a bus together, we have an opportunity to encourage and fellowship together as we examine God’s providential hand in history. Because we still have some open seats, we are opening it up to other people who would like to join us. It is an opportunity to see places like Philadelphia, Trenton, Mount Vernon and much more. The trip is from September 6th to 11th. We leave early Monday morning from Wake Forest and return Saturday afternoon. The cost is $200 per adult and $175 per child. Lap children are free. This does not include the hotel which is approximately $65 per room per night, but it does include all transportation, entrance fees and all the meals except for three dinners. If it would be beneficial to you and your family, please come join us. You can view the schedule or a brochure and sign up here. The deadline for registering is August 30.

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The Unbiblical Morass of Modern Youth Ministry

Tracking the downfall of modern youth ministry is regularly in the news today, and even mainstream news outlets seem to think that it is big enough news to report on it. Today, the Wall Street Journal helps to chronicle the unbiblical morass that characterizes much of modern youth ministry. Of course there is a reform movement in youth ministry that seeks to be God centered and so you can’t lump all into one. But the WSJ piece entitled, “The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity,” reveals the philosophical center of much of youth ministry that is disconnected from biblical government. The author declares,

“‘How can we stop the oil gusher?’ may have been the question of the summer for most Americans. Yet for many evangelical pastors and leaders, the leaking well is nothing compared to the threat posed by an ongoing gusher of a different sort: Young people pouring out of their churches, never to return.

Statistics like these have created something of a mania in recent years, as baby-boomer evangelical leaders frantically assess what they have done wrong (why didn’t megachurches work to attract youth in the long term?) and scramble to figure out a plan to keep young members engaged in the life of the church.

Increasingly, the “plan” has taken the form of a total image overhaul, where efforts are made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called “the emerging church”—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too “let’s rethink everything” radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity’s image and make it “cool”—remains.”

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Teens Tell Churches – Bye Bye – Forget your Pizza Parties

The collapse of modern youth ministry is reaching legendary proportions and people want to talk about how to fix it. Nearly everyone agrees it is severely broken, but not everyone has the same answer. USA Today reporters Cathy Lynn Grossman and Stephanie Steinberg have an article documenting one of the current challenges – shrinking youth groups and a shrinking youth summer camp industry.

They report, “Only about one in four teens now participate in church youth groups, considered the hallmark of involvement; numbers have been flat since 1999. Other measures of religiosity — prayer, Bible reading and going to church — lag as well, according to Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif., evangelical research company. This all has churches canceling their summer teen camps and youth pastors looking worriedly toward the fall, when school-year youth groups kick in.

Seemingly, even the high octane entertainment is not enough, “‘Talking to God may be losing out to Facebook,’ says Barna president David Kinnaman.”

The problem for churches, who have built their ministries on youth groups is significant. “Sweet 16 is not a sweet spot for churches. It’s the age teens typically drop out,” says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, which found the turning point in a study of church dropouts. “A decade ago teens were coming to church youth group to play, coming for the entertainment, coming for the pizza. They’re not even coming for the pizza anymore. They say, ‘We don’t see the church as relevant, as meeting our needs or where we need to be today.’

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A Nation In the Jaws of the Culture of Death – 2% of all Dutch Deaths Caused by Euthanasia

In a startling report, the Globe and Mail says that death by euthanasia has risen 13% during the last year and now makes up fully 2% of all deaths in the country. They are now considering “End of Life Clinics” or dedicated euthanasia hospitals.

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How Sovereign Is God?

Here Spurgeon speaks on how sovereign God actually is,

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—

that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—

that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.

The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—

the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.

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Congregations Gone Wild – Bending the Church to the Cravings of Man

The New York Times recently reported on a phenomena – Congregations Gone Wild – in church life that is causing turmoil in churches and hardship among ministers. The author, Jeffrey MacDonald says that the heart of the matter is, “congregational pressure to forsake one’s highest calling.” It stems from churches which have become so user and consumer friendly that they bow to pressure to provide what the consumers want – entertainment. It is marked by “theater-style seating and giant projection screens in churches and in mission trips that involve more sightseeing than listening to the people.

The result is pastors often have to choose between the calling of God and the preferences of people who have corrupt affections. It is problematic because you have churches that are not governed by the affections of God, but by the affections of men who cry out for specific cravings, “give us the comforting, amusing fare we want or we’ll get our spiritual leadership from someone else.”

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Our Marriages and the Marriages of Our Sons and Daughters

We are fast approaching this retreat on August 20-21 and registration is almost full. Click here for more information on this wonderful conference.

 

For a wonderful place to stay right here in Wake Forest, check out the Lions Gate Inn.

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A Controversial Film on the Way: IndoctriNation

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IndoctriNation from IndoctriNation on Vimeo.

Check out the website of an upcoming film, IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America, which exposes the true nature of our public education system.

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George Whitefield on Education

“When I was about twelve, I was placed at a school called St. Mary de Crypt, in Gloucester – the last grammar school I ever went to… And I cannot but here observe, with much concern of mind, how this way of training up youth has a natural tendency to debauch the mind, to raise ill passions and to stuff the memory with things as contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ, as light to darkness, heaven to Hell. However, though the first thing I had to repent of was my education in general…”

 

The life and Times of George Whitefield, by Arnold Dallimore, p48

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In Times of Awakening, Some are Slower

“Others have awakenings that come upon them more gradually; they begin at first to be something more thoughtful and considerate, so as to come to a conclusion in their minds that ’tis their best and wisest way to delay no longer, but to improve the present opportunity; and have accordingly set themselves seriously to meditate on those things that have the most awakening tendency, on purpose to obtain convictions; and so their awakenings have increased, till a sense of their misery, by God’s Spirit setting in therewith, has had fast hold of them.”

 

(Pg. 68, The Jonathan Edwards Reader, Yale Nota Bene)

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Taylor Tsantles and Blair Brown – Betrothed to be Married

 

Last Friday, our daughter Blair was betrothed to Taylor Tsantles. The wedding has been scheduled for November 6, 2010.

Many of you have met Taylor because he has traveled extensively with me over the past four years and was the best man in my son David’s wedding. He and I have been very close partners in ministry ever since he arrived in Wake Forest. God has given us a very special unity of heart in matters of church and family life and he is always a joy to be around – he is a cheerful and gregarious young man.

He was only thirteen years old when he came to Hope Baptist and from the moment he arrived he and I worked closely together. He is in the web and graphic design business, Steadfast Designs. He has been an intern at Hope Baptist Church and has always proven himself to be consistent with what Paul said young men should be, “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” Titus 2:6-8

This is a very special time of joy for the Brown and Tsantles families. Our church family is especially giddy as they have been watching these two seek to glorify the Lord in the days of their youth.

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For Temporal and Eternal Security

This past week our family read Psalm 47:4 which tells us of our temporal and eternal security,

He will choose our inheritance for us.

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Persecution – NOT for Righteousness Sake

Mike McKinley of 9 Marks has an important post on persecution that comes for the wrong reason,

He responds to Acts 5:41, saying,

“We read that after the apostles had the tar beaten out of them: Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

As believers, we are necessarilly going to have a lot of distance between us and those who don’t follow Christ. We live differently, love differntly, hope differntely. We’re citizens of a different country.

But it might be helpful if we limit the distance between us and the world in a lot of other ways. We don’t have to flaunt our lack of a TV and be weird and preachy about grinding your own grain. That only serves to put unnecessary distance between us and the people we’re trying to reach. Instead, we should try to engage the world around us, know what our neighbors care about, and try to inhabit the same universe they do.

If they are going to persecute us, let us at least be for things that really have something to do with being a Christian.”

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Safety throughout 36,000 miles of travel

The Road Trip for Reforming Church and Family took us over 12,000 miles – half the distance of the circumference of the earth. My uncle who has always owned motorhomes says that they break down every 300 miles… We had 3 motorhomes. Do the math. Even though we had no “major” problems, we replaced lots of parts at almost every stop to keep us running down the road. But, we were grateful that the Lord always had a mechanic nearby or a church or an individual who fixed them for us. In this sense, the Road Trip was the NCFIC’s stimulus package for the small mechanics of America. We had something to fix at every stop along the way.

We were astonished to look back and see that we had no accidents, no dents, no flat tires, no major repairs (like blown motors and transmissions), and were never stuck in a bad place on the road. We made it to all of our appointments.

I marvel at the safety God has afforded us. These lumbering, swaying old motorhomes are much safer than the Mayflower and the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. But, they still scared me when we were passed by eighteen wheelers with what seemed to be only inches of margin. We have traveled all these miles without any mishaps and I am praising God for this.  Safety was my only real concern about the trip.

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