I saw a dark and stormy ocean

The third chapter in John Piper's book, Let the Nations be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, is about the suffering that accompanies the spread of the Gospel. He says, "Some suffering is the calling of every believer but especially of those God calls to bear the gospel to the unreached." He quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise God-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

Let me admit I know personally very little about suffering for cause of the Gospel. This causes great concern for me, especially when I study passages like Philippians 1:27-30 and 2 Timothy 3:12. Why don't I suffer? Part of the reason is probably cultural; our country was the first to institute the teachings of Jesus about separation of church and state, and so we still have (for the moment) true religious liberty (Mark 12:13-17) (note: I doubt we'll have this much longer; tolerance will overtake it, persecuting any who are exclusive. Want proof? See what's happened in Canada to those who preach the Bible's position on homosexuality.). But the larger part is probably because I have not been a consistent, fearless witness for Jesus Christ. Although I know the truth of salvation, I have been lazy and apathetic in sharing it. And though there are always exceptions, this seems to be the way of most of the Christians I know are. Why? Piper goes on to say, "Persecution can have harmful effects on the church, but prosperity it seems is even more devastating to the mission God calls us to." Read Matthew 13:1-23. Are we not thorny soil?

Matthew 13:22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

I have long thought that this problem was unique to the modern church here in America, but today I discovered otherwise. As I was studying, I read an article from William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. It's so accurate, it could have been written yesterday in Washington DC instead of a hundred years ago in England. Read the entire vision, entitled A Vision Of The Lost. May God speak to your heart as He spoke to mine.

God, please forgive me for being thorny soil. May I never be apathetic again.


I'm reading John Piper's "Let the Nations be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions." If you're at all interested in understanding why there is such a thing as a missionary, this book is required reading. It will certainly challenge your heart to do more for missions.

In chapter 3 Piper asks an interesting question: Is the concept of retirement Biblical? He says, "Since the first edition of this book in 1993, one of the significant advances in Christian mission strategy has been the emergence of ministries focused on mobilizing people in midlife for the cause of finishing the Great Commission. Paul's words in Acts 20:24 have come alive for thousands as they contemplate a better way to finish their earthly live than to throw them away golfing or fishing in the unbiblical dreamworld of wasted lives called 'retirement'."

Wow! That's a pretty strong statement. One of the organizations he highlights is "The Finishers Project." Here's a part of their vision statement: "The Finishers Project is a movement to provide information, challenge and pathways for people to join God in His passion for His glory among the nations. Boomers are and will be the healthiest and best educated generation of empty-nesters ever. This generation is skilled and resourced with a multitude of talents. We can either give them to Jesus to lay up as treasure in Heaven or lose them." I don't know anything else about this group, but I sure do like the idea of encouraging older, mature believers to live out the rest of their lives fulfilling the Great Commission.

The Finishers Project

Act 20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (ESV)

An Easter craft.

The Lord's Supper

Have you heard a pastor say "if there's sin in your life, just don't take the bread or the grape juice" during a Lord's Supper? Where does that come from? Find out in my latest point paper, which is on the Lord's Supper. I'm writing these papers as I read and study material in my Pastoral Ministry class at Southeastern. Writing a paper isn't a requirement; I just study better when I have to organize my thoughts.

Homeschool in action.

Church Discipline

"The absence of [church discipline] may well be the most severe and debilitating problem in the church of this century." John MacArthur

"Few facets of the modern life of the church have found themselves any further removed from New Testament Christianity than the subject of church discipline." Paige Patterson

Are these guys overstating the matter? Read through the point paper I wrote on the subject of church discipline, and then let me know how close your church follows the New Testament model.

Atheist Becomes Theist

Can you imagine Billy Graham renouncing Christianity? If not, read this:

"College freshmen taking Philosophy 101, in which the professor is trying to challenge Christianity, have likely encountered the writings of Antony Flew. Mr. Flew has been called the most influential atheist philosopher in the world, and his arguments against the existence of God are staples of many college anthologies and textbooks. Now he says that he believes there is a God...Key to his conviction that there must be an intelligent mind behind the universe is the nature of DNA...Mr. Habermas says the impact on the atheist movement is similar to what would happen in the evangelical world if Billy Graham or J.I. Packer renounced Christianity."

Read the entire article from World Magazine, and then go read the fascinating interview with Liberty University's Dr. Habermas.

The right half of our kitchen.


We've been in Wake Forest for 2 months, and we've received no less than 8 phonebooks. What in the world do I need with 8 phonebooks? Haven't these people heard of this cool new invention called the internet? Try this: go to


In the search box type in:

open door baptist church raleigh nc

then click the search button. See? I get a map, a link to their website, an address, and a phone number. How cool is that? So why do I need 8 phonebooks? In case you're wondering, Open Door is the church we've been visiting recently.

The left half of our kitchen.

Psalm 23 redone

"The TV is my shepherd, I shall not want anything else. It maketh me to lie down on the sofa. It leadeth me away from the Scripture. It destroys my soul. It leadeth me in the paths of sex and violence for the sponsors sake, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will enjoy the evil, for blood and sex they excite me. Its cable and remote they comfort me. It prepares a commercial before me in the presence of my children. It anoints my head with humanism, My coveting runneth over. Surely laziness and ignorance shall follow my family all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in the house watching TV forever."

Quoted from No Greater Joy

This is why we no longer watch TV in our house. I'm convinced godliness and TV are mutually exclusive.

Salvation has come to this house

Paul spends a little time reminding the church at Philippi that since they have trusted in Jesus Christ, returning to the laws of Judaism won't help them. Here's a long quote:

Philippians 3:4-7 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless.

So Paul tells them some about his background. Although he had impeccable credentials, he goes on to say that none of them were useful to put him into a right relationship with God. People today still try and use these same credentials:

circumcised the eighth day - No ritual or ceremony, regardless of the church you attend, puts you into a right relationship with God. This includes baptism (infant or adult), confirmation, mass, etc.

the people of Israel - No racial heritage can put you into a right relationship with God. Being Jewish doesn't help, neither does being American or anything else.

the tribe of Benjamin - It doesn't matter what family you come from. There's no help in being a Bush, a Kennedy, a Graham, or any other family. God's not impressed.

a Hebrew of Hebrews - Adhering to a specific culture or tradition doesn't do anything either.

as to the law, a Pharisee - There is no religious position or office that can help you. Being a monk or priest or pastor or seminary professor does nothing save you from your sins.

as to zeal, a persecutor of the church - Here's the big one today. Many say, "It doesn't matter what you believe, so long as you are zealous." Paul was so zealous he killed people who didn't agree with him. But he came to realize that it wasn't zeal that matters, but the object of his zeal.

as to righteousness, under the law blameless - Paul said he always obeyed all the rules of his religious organization. You couldn't bring any accusation against him that would stick. But obeying lots of rules don't please God if your heart is far from Him.

That about covers everything, doesn't it? So why did I write all this? Because a couple weeks ago, Jacen repented of his sins and trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. It's important to note what Jacen did not do - he didn't get baptized; he didn't claim his American heritage; he didn't claim to be a Garriss; he didn't re-use his parent's faith; he didn't take a position in a church; he didn't get zealous; and he certainly didn't claim to be perfect. He repented of his sins and trusted in Jesus. That's it. It's a decision he made all by himself at age 6.

Can a kid really get saved? Read the point paper on the salvation of a child.

Welcome to God's family, my son. It's what we've been praying for since you were born.

Muslims, Christians, Jews

Take a look at this very interesting article by Dr. Ergun Caner, the new dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. His brother, Dr. Emir Caner, is my professor here at Southeastern.

Dirty Little Secret

See also:

Liberty's new dean
Ergun's website
Emir's website