Saturday, July 29, 2006

Barclay on Baptism

Back in college, I recall one particular professor who decried William Barclay as a churchman who did not believe in the miracles of the New Testament. My reading of the enigmatic Barclay bears that opinion out. Nevertheless, I read something in Barclay's commentary on Colossians that sounds like it was written by Alexander Campbell. Here it is:

Baptism in the time of Paul was three things. It was adult baptism; it was instructed baptism; and, wherever possible, it was baptism by total immersion. [author's emphasis] Therefore the symbolism of baptism was manifest. As the waters closed over the man's head, it was as if he died; as he rose up again from the water, it was as if he rose to new life. Part of him was dead and gone for ever; he was a new man risen to a new life.

But, it must be noted, that symbolism could become a reality only under one condition. It could become real only when a man believed intensely in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It could only happen when a man believed in the effective working of God which had raised Jesus Christ from the dead and could do the same for him. Baptism for the Christian was in truth a dying and a rising again, because he believed that Christ had died and risen again and that he was sharing in the experience of his Lord.

You go, Bill!

William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, Revised edition, (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1975), p. 140.

Northmen Sing!

My sons and I leave for our annual Northmen camping trip tomorrow. Part business, part pleasure, this trip is a great opportunity to connect with my sons, with ministry colleagues, and with great preaching. I'm especially looking forward to hearing Mark Scott preach. That guys always has something to say and a great way to say it.

My sons enjoy the event because they're out in the woods where they can "fart, scratch, and burp without mom yelling at them." Okay, okay, I admit it. That part of the trip doesn't bother me too much either.

Oh Be Careful Little Tongue What You Preach

Sunday morning, during a sermon on the power of the tongue and the care that must be taken to control it, I preached an error. How appropriate (or is that ironic) that I should have a slip of the tongue during a sermon about the tongue.

What really impressed me, however, were the number of people who caught it, and pointed it out to me. I have always hoped that folks were listening carefully enough to hear any doctrinal error that I might inadvertently put forward, and then have the courage to confront me. Sunday confirms that they do.

In an illustration about the destructive force of the tongue, I mentioned that Karen Carpenter, the alto-half of the seventies mega-duo
The Carpenters, was driven to anorexia by the words a reviewer who called her "Richard's chubby sister." The theological mis-step I made wasn't spotted by many, but those who did know their stuff. What was the blunder? I told the congregation that The Carpenters recorded Muskrat Love. It was The Captain and Tennille. My bad.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

For My Preacher Friends

With tongue in cheek, Paul Bailey writes: Not every pastor enjoys counseling. [Or, like me, I suspect they feel terribly inadequate - FW] But, other than skipping town, how can you decrease the demand? Here, based on specious clinical research, are a dozen methods guaranteed to keep counseling off your to-do list.
  1. Recite tales of people who are a lot worse off, and call the counselee a cry baby.
  2. Engage the counselor's mother-in-law as a co-therapist.
  3. Don't put a door on your office.
  4. Sing songs such as "Put On a Happy Face" and "Don't Worry; Be Happy" to counselees.
  5. Step out of the office and start laughing uproariously.
  6. Tell the counselee that although you can't figure out a solution to the problem, you'll bring it up in the sermon on Sunday and see if anybody has any ideas.
  7. Casually catch up on your reading while counselees bare their deepest problems.
  8. Tell the counselee you are videotaping the session for replay on the local cable program "Candid Clergy."
  9. Put a bumper sticker on your car: I'D RATHER NOT BE COUNSELING.
  10. Refer them to a helpful article in your favorite professional journal: the National Enquirer.
  11. Suggest counseling by fax machine.
  12. In front of the counselee, phone your spouse and ask for his or her opinion on what to do.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Church Camp

Enjoying the week at Lake James Christian Assembly. Here is a shot from tonight's "talent show" where Frank and the BCC crew air banded Audio Adrenaline's "Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus."

Friday, July 14, 2006

The price of gold futures took a tumble today . . .

It seems Mr. T has divested himself of his gold chains to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Good for you, T. Why now? Why not after, say 9/11. Or why not after Oklahoma City. Why not after the great Christmas Tsunami of 2005?

Call me cynical, but is it possible that this revelation is connected to Mr. T's new television show set to debut in October?

Zizou 'Da Man

The Boston Globe is condemning the actions of French soccer star Zinadine Zidane for head butting Italian Marco Materazzi during last week's World Cup final. What a bunch of panty-waists. Hello Boston sportswriters. . . have you ever been to a Bruins game? Author Frank Dell'Apa opines that insults and harsh words are part of sports and Zidane should have ignored it. So is fighting. The Bruins have dropped the gloves plenty of times. So have the Celtics. Even the erstwhile, blueblood Bosox have dusted it up a time or two.

Soccer's stock went up in my portfolio last week with the head butt heard 'round the world. (The only direction is could go, by the way.) For me, this sport has been been reminiscent of Zuzu's petals. That image has been replaced by Zizou's pounding.

I know, I know, it was "too violent." It was "unsportsmanlike." But the dude called his mother and sister whores. And he retaliated. Where I come from that is called justice. Part of the world - the part that sings "I'd like to teach the world to sing . . . " - may condemn Zidane, but I'm holding him up to my boys as a man who defended the honor of the women in his life.

Am I wrong in this?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"Jane" Has Left the Building

My friend, "Joe", was telling me about a disgruntled woman who recently left his church. (Aside - if there is disgruntled, is there such a thing as gruntled?) "Jane" has been critical of Joe from the time he arrived. The music isn't right. The drums are too loud. Her husband should have been asked to chair a committee. On and on.

When asked by one of the church elders why she was leaving to attend a church in another nearby town (the preaching there isn't any better, by the way), she told him, "I'm not getting anything from Joe's sermons. They just aren't deep enough." This mature elder responded with one of the best answers I think I've ever heard. "Jane, I would hope they're not deep enough for you. You've been a Christian for nearly sixty years. I would hope that, by now, you're mature enough that Joe's preaching isn't nearly deep enough. If its deep enough for you, then he's over the heads of all the new believers we're seeing in our church right now."

God bless that elder and God bless Joe. And while He's at it, God bless Jane and her new preacher. He's gonna need it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Trust God Tags

The Indiana BMV recently announced a new "In God We Trust" license plate option for motorists. At no additional cost, Hoosiers can purchase a faith-based plate. Click here to see the four options and to vote for your favorite. Of course, if you purchase these tags, you won't be able to speed, gesture profanely or honk your horn at the curb-hugger ahead of you without looking like a total hypocrite. That's why I got rid of my fish bumper-sticker, after all.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Funerals for the Faithless

Most preachers I know say they would rather preside over ten funerals than one wedding. Brides-to-be and mothers of brides-to-be make most weddings miserable for a pastor. The exception to that rule is the funeral of an unbeliever. Few exercises are more difficult for a minister than dancing around the reality of a pagan grandfather's final resting place. The pastor wants to give comfort to a grieving family while the prophet wants to warn those left behind to change their ways before their fate is similarly sealed.

I attended one such funeral yesterday. The preacher did an admirable job. His opening line was "_______ loved nature. _______ loved people." What a tragedy. God forbid that someone could ever say of me, "Frank loved nature, and Frank loved people," without being able to say, "Frank loved Jesus."

You can love nature all you want. You can be everyone's friend of years and friend of tears. But, if you don't love Jesus, death is no welcome friend.

I desperately hope that, sometime during our recently departed friend's brief illness, he was able to connect with Christ in a redemptive way. I don't know if he did; I guess I won't know until I meet Jesus face to face. I do know this: I'm not going to wait. I'm pleading the blood of Christ today and everyday. I count on Jesus' mercy and grace to forgive my sin.

When some pastor (perhaps my son) sermonizes on my burial day, it will be the easiest funeral he has ever preached. "Frank loved Jesus; he loved his family; Frank is in Heaven. Now let's go back to the church and eat ham and scalloped potatoes."