Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The God of the Second Chance

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” -Jonah 3:1-2

The fateful day was September 14, 1986. Third baseman Bob Brenly was about to experience one of the worst days of his life. The San Francisco Giant tied a major league record by committing four errors in one inning.

First, Bob let an easy ground ball bounce off his glove. Second, he bobbled another easy catch. Third, he actually caught the ball, but threw it twenty feet over the catcher’s head.

Fourth, another ground ball came Brenly’s way. A reporter, relating that ball to a live grenade, said, “Should Brenly throw himself on it and save his teammates, thereby salvaging a measure of honor in death, or turn and run? Courageously , he stood his ground, and the ball kicked off his glove.”

The opposing Atlanta Braves scored four unearned runs because of Brenly’s errors.

The next day Bob told reporters of his despair, humiliation, after error number four. “You know how you hear the old saying, ‘If you make an error you want the next ball‘? After the fourth one, I never wanted to see the ball again.”

After that inning he hid in a tunnel trying to pull himself together. Ever had a day like that?

But Bob Brenly did not give up. In the same ball game, in his next two at bats he hit a home run and a single.

In the bottom of the ninth inning Bob came to bat again. The Giants had two outs and the score was tied. With a full count of three balls, two strikes, a miracle happened. He hit the next pitch for a home run to win the game.

About his four errors in one inning, Bob said, “It’s easy to laugh now, but I was ready to commit suicide. If I could’ve found something sharp, I would’ve slashed my wrists.” Because he did not quit, he heard boos turn to cheers.

Fifteen years later Brenly was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In games four and five of the World Series against the New York Yankees, the Diamonbacks were just one out from a win. Each time the Yankees came from behind and won the game. After those two crushing defeats, in the seventh and final game, the Diamondbacks came from behind in the bottom of the ninth and won 3-2. Perhaps part of that was because Manager Brenly understood that you never give up, and sometimes you get a second chance.

Did you foul up in 2009? Have you failed? Christianity is a faith of grace, mercy, forgiveness. Jesus, God the Son, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, and miraculously rose again. He gives us the gift of salvation, forgiveness, eternal life when we turn our lives over to Him. Even after we accept Him as Savior, we continue to sin, we sometimes fail. Yet Jesus loves us still and comes to us again. Jesus Christ offers His mercy and forgiveness, if we will simply confess our sins to Him, and get back in the ballgame. God is a God of the second chance. So whatever your failures, make your life count in the Year of our Lord, 2010.

May you all have a Happy New Year.

Reference: WORLD magazine, Marvin Olasky, November 17, 2001.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 30, AD 2009.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Global Warming, Global Cooling, & Climate Change

The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. -Psalm 24:1

As a boy in grade school, I distinctly remember being taught the danger of Global Cooling. That’s right, not Global Warming, but Global Cooling. We were taught that pollution was clouding the skies and blocking out the sun. Crops would become more difficult, then impossible, to grow. If we did not radically change our ways, we would all freeze to death, if we did not first starve to death.

Somewhere along the line, the “authorities” completely switched their science and opinions. They began teaching the opposite, Global Warming, as though they had never taught anything different. They never issued a public apology for having taught error. No one ever apologized to me or my parents for teaching junk science in my grade school.

Seldom if ever do Global Warming activists, or the media, allow a fair hearing from credible authorities on the other side. They just proclaim all scientists, or at least most scientists, agree that man-caused Global Warming is accepted, uncontestable fact. I have never once seen Al Gore, Global Warming’s chief spokesman, asked tough questions and follow-up questions. He is asked “softball questions” over and over.

Lately, it seems the scientific and climatic evidence is stacking up against the Global Warming alarmists. It was amusing to seen the recent Copenhagen, Denmark Global Warming Summit plagued by unusually cold weather. So Global Warming authorities have begun a new tactic. They seem to be referring more to Climate Change rather than Global Warming. Why would they do so? Simple. With Climate Change you can’t lose. Guess what, the climate changes no matter what we do.

Weather obviously goes through cycles on a yearly basis. In the summer we complain about the heat. It seems hotter than it’s ever been before. In the winter we complain about the cold and rain.

Weather goes through decade or more cycles. Here on the Gulf Coast we have several years of above average number of hurricanes. Then we barely notice when we go through years of few hurricanes. Every 20 to 50 years or so, we have incredible freezing weather. Some have even argued that if Global Warming were true, it would not necessarily be a bad thing.

Is Global Warming true? Yes. Is Global Cooling true? Sure. Is Climate Change true? Of course. Weather goes in cycles, regardless of what man does.

Points to ponder:
* Al Gore erroneously claimed 2006 was the warmest on record. A new documentary reveals the warmest year actually was 1934. Not too many SUVs on the road in 1934.

* The polar ice caps are receding - and advancing; just as they have done through the years.

* Glaciers are receding - and advancing; just as they have done through the centuries.

* Polar bears are not dying out; they are increasing to the point of being a danger, and being overpopulated, in much of the north. Their increasing population should be managed by hunting. Stop showing that lonely polar bear on a melting iceberg. Stop scaring school kids. The polar bears are just fine.

* Global Warming alarmism often ends up hurting the disadvantaged. It prevents economic development in the world’s poorest areas.

The 1 ½ hour DVD documentary, Not Evil, Just Wrong, by the Cornwall Alliance does an excellent job of presenting the facts and a more rational view of Global Warming. See their website at cornwallalliance.org or you can click their icon at the sidebar to the right of this blog.

Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, should be followed up with Not Evil, Just Wrong in our public schools. Why not give both sides equal time?

Baptist Press (bpnews.net, also in sidebar) has done an outstanding job of reporting on the Global Warming issue. Professors Craig Mitchell and Benjamin Phillips at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX (swbts.edu) have been vocal on this issue. See BP December 15, 2009 article, “Profs contest global warming alarmism.”

Concluding Thoughts on Global Warming/Climate Change:
* I do not view this as a strictly Christian issue. You can be a Bible believing Christian and be on either side of the Global Warming debate. I just believe one side is right and the other wrong.

* This is an issue of truth and honesty. Environmental extremists have too often been untruthful.

* Christians should be concerned about the environment and wisely using our God-given resources. We should favor realistic ways to improve the environment and reduce pollution. Leave this world, both spiritually and physically, a better place because you were here.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 28, AD 2009.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

10 Commandments for Christmas

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. -Galatians 4:4-5

10 Commandments for Christmas

I. Thou shalt not leave “Christ” out of Christmas nor refuse to use the word “Christmas” during this season.

II. Thou shalt demonstrate joy to the world, for the Lord is come.

III. Thou shalt not let Santa Claus take the place of the reality of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.

IV. Thou shalt remember that the value of gifts we give and receive is not so much the cost as the love that is behind them.

V. Thou shalt consider the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

VI. Thou shalt not neglect Christ and His church during the Christmas Season.

VII. Thy Christmas Cards shall bear the good news of the coming of Christ and His salvation.

VIII. Thou shalt be kind to those who serve; the cashier, the merchant, and the mail carrier.

IX. Thou shalt remember the greatest gift of all, when God gave His only begotten Son.

X. In all thy giving, thou shalt give a gift to the One whose birthday we celebrate. Appropriate recipients shall be missions, thy church, and those in need.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 10, AD 2009.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

That Night, A Christmas Poem

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” -Isaiah 9:2

That Night

That night when in the Judean skies
The mystic star dispensed its light,
A blind man moved in his sleep-
And dreamed that he had sight!

That night when shepherds heard the song
Of hosts angelic choiring near,
A deaf man stirred in slumber’s spell-
And dreamed that he could hear!

That night when in the cattle stall
Slept child and mother cheek by jowl,
A cripple turned his twisted limbs-
And dreamed that he was whole!

That night when o’er the newborn babe
The tender Mary rose to lean,
A loathsome leper smiled in sleep-
And dreamed that he was clean!

That night when to the mother’s breast
The little King was held secure,
A harlot slept a happy sleep-
And dreamed that she was pure!

That night when in the manger lay
The sanctified who came to save,
A man moved in the sleep of death-
And dreamed there was no grave!
-unknown

I remember R. G. Lee calling this the best poem ever written about Christmas.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, December 8, AD 2009.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Alcohol and the Holidays

Last week a news program dealt with a problem many families struggle with at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The problem was big family fights and how to avoid them at family celebrations. One recommended option was to reduce the amount of alcohol served at family gatherings.

I have a better solution. Have an alcohol-free, drug-free holiday. I’m well aware that you can have family fights without alcohol being involved. The first thing alcohol does, however, is affect your judgment and reduce your inhibitions. With a little alcohol you do things you would never do in your right mind. Drug free, many can hold their tongues and keep their attitudes in check.

For those who think you must have alcohol at every family gathering, I would ask, Why? Even dedicated drinkers should be able to survive two or three hours without a mind altering recreational drug. If it is your home then you don’t have to supply it or allow it. You can also be gracious, but firm in prohibiting alcohol in your home.

Several years ago the Gulf Coast city of Galveston, Texas had a problem. Families were no longer going to the Seawall. They studied the issue and found that with all the drunken partying, families were staying away. Galveston made the wise decision to ban alcohol on the Seawall. An amazing thing happened. Peace and tranquility reigned and the families returned. Absence of alcohol will never solve all problems, but it will certainly solve many of them.

Alcohol coarsens everything it touches. The great Southern Baptist preacher, R. G. Lee, eloquently preached, “Intoxicating beverage never touched an individual that it did not leave an indelible stain, never touched a family that it did not plant the seeds of misery and dissolution, never touched a community that it did not lower the moral tone, chill religion and undermine law. Liquor never touched a state that it did not multiply crime, destroy wealth and increase the burden of taxation. It never touched a nation that it did not clog the machinery of government, blight prosperity, weaken patriotism and encourage treason.”

Want a peaceful family Thanksgiving? Want a joy-filled, Christ-honoring Christmas? One way to achieve that goal is to pour beverage alcohol down the drain.

Reference: Highways to Havoc by R. G. Lee, Christ for the World Publishers, Orlando, Florida; 1974. Lee (AD 1886-1978) was pastor of First Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee. He served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention and authored numerous books.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 30, AD 2009.

Articles: 
Ancient Wine and the Bible - the Book; update
Wine for Your Stomach's Sake; 1 Timothy 5:23
More articles in lower right margin. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bibles and Bible Study

What are the basics of doing a credible Bible Study on your own? In several posts that may or may not be consecutive, I’d like to try and answer that question. Hopefully this information will be helpful to young pastors, laymen, Sunday School teachers, and those who teach new believers.

To study the Bible, the first thing you need is a Bible. That’s profound, isn’t it? :-) . The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic). But unless you are fluent in those languages, you need a good English translation.

Good modern English Bible translations include the New King James Version (NKJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). My favorite is the NKJV. That may be partly because I grew up using the old King James Version (KJV).

Once you get a good translation of the Bible, the next thing you need is a second translation of the Bible. Why? Because when one translation is not clear, another translation may be. It can help your understanding to occasionally read the passage under study in a different translation. So get at least two of the above translations. Most of these translations in hardback editions cost about $10 to $20.

Third, get a good Study Bible. A Study Bible has Bible Study helps built right into the volume. Study helps like: a brief introduction to each of the 66 books of the Bible, footnotes that explain hard to understand verses, cross references in the margins that tell you about similar or contrasting verses elsewhere in the Bible, brief glossary or dictionary, concordance to help you find Bible verses, maps, and short articles on major doctrines and themes in the Bible. A Study Bible can give brief, easy to understand explanations of many Bible subjects. While you will end up disagreeing with some of the Bible Study notes, they can keep you from getting too far off base in basic Christian doctrine.

There are many helpful Study Bibles. In my opinion, some of the best are the Scofield Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, and the Criswell Study Bible (Later editions called Believer's Study Bible, and Baptist Study Edition; all are good. I have the Believer's Study Bible).

The Criswell Study Bible (Managing Editor Paige Patterson), and its various editions, is unfortunately out of print, but can still be found in some bookstores or at amazon.com. Hopefully it will one day be republished; it is one of the best.

The above Study Bibles are available in several Bible translations. So you may want to kill two stones with one bird by getting two Study Bibles in different translations :-) . The drawback to a Study Bible is that it is more expensive. Study Bibles range in price from $20 to $50 dollars for a hardback edition, to $50 to over $100 for leather-bound editions. They can be purchased at LifeWay Stores (lifewaystores.com), other local Christian bookstores, or through amazon.com, christianbooks.com, etc. They make great birthday and Christmas gifts. (Be sure to give your local Christian bookstore some of your business. If they don‘t have it in stock, they can order it.)

Once you get a Study Bible, take some time to read the introduction and the explanation of their Helps and Notes. Many have a Study Bible for years without knowing how to take advantage of all the helps it offers.

Much of the above Bible Study information can also be obtained free on the internet at crosswalk.com and BibleGateway.com. They offer numerous Bible translations, concordance (word search), and other study helps. While these two sites are good, be cautious about the internet. Some websites are faithful to the Word of God, many are not.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 24, AD 2009.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Squanto, an American Joseph: A Thankgiving Story

“God sent me before you to preserve life.”
“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.”

-Genesis 45:5; 50:20

In 1605 Squanto was an American Indian living with his people in what is now called New England, USA. He and several of his friends were captured by an English fishing expedition and taken to England.

Squanto lived with the English Captain, learned English, learned to eat English food, and learned English customs. Nine years later he came back to America on another fishing expedition and was finally allowed to return to his village.

Just a few months later, however, another group of Englishmen arrived and Squanto was taken prisoner again. This time he was taken, with other American Indians, to the slave trading port of Malaga, Spain. There 27 American Indians were paraded on an auction block and sold, many to Arab slave traders. When it came Squanto’s turn a monk walked by, took pity on him, and bought him. He was taken to a monastery and there learned about Jesus.

Eventually the monks gave Squanto his freedom. Homesick, he made his way back to England and finally to his home in America. But when he arrived home, he discovered that his entire tribe had been killed by a mysterious disease, probably brought by the white man. Imagine being kidnapped, taken to a foreign land, sold into slavery, then losing your family, even your entire tribe, to disease.

Squanto went to live with a neighboring tribe. In 1621 he learned of a group of Englishmen attempting to settle in the area that had belonged to his people.

What a chance for revenge! Before him was a magnificent opportunity to even the score.

Rather than revenge, Squanto went to their aid.

The Pilgrims knew little to nothing of surviving in the wilderness. In four months they had managed to catch only one codfish.

God had perfectly prepared Squanto for such a time as this. He knew their language and their customs. He knew how to survive in a hostile land. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to fish, stalk deer, plant pumpkins, skin beavers and deer, and what wild food was edible. He taught them how to plant corn with a fish underneath for fertilize.

William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, called Squanto “a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.”

The Pilgrims had a Thanksgiving celebration at harvest to thank God for His goodness. Ninety Indians came with five dressed deer (venison) on poles, 12 dressed turkeys, berry pies, fish, fowl and vegetables. For three days they feasted and celebrated. They had foot races, wrestling, and archery contests. This event became a tradition each year. It is the origin of our modern day Thanksgiving holiday.

In 1622 Squanto became ill with Indian fever and died within a few days. He desired “the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in Heaven.”

In his brief years, Squanto lived the life of an American Joseph. What an example of taking the evil of men, and turning it into good.

References:
Baptist Press article 11-23-2005 by Erin Curry, and The Spirit of America by Kenyn M. Cureton.
Children’s book, Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas.


-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 16, AD 2009.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pastors, Salaries, Parsonages

Pastor needed. Parsonage provided.

Parsonage (pastor’s housing):
“A small cottage or, more properly, a hut for the minister and his wife. It contained several pieces of ageing and broken furniture: a table, two chairs and a bed that had to be supported by stone slabs. Some of the floorboards had rotted away and in their place lay a pile of bare stones. The door through which the couple entered the cottage was old and decayed, and afforded little shelter from the wind and rain, and the frugal congregation saved the expense of a new door by nailing a tin plate across the bottom of it for added protection against the elements. The roof was so low that the master of the house, who was of commanding stature, could barely stand upright and he often knocked his head.”

Demographics:
Pastoral field “made up of only a few scattered houses, each consisting of just one room, where the members of the family lived and died. In this one room ‘all the washing, cooking, baking, weaving, spinning, and dyeing were done. Hidden away in corners were the few belongings necessary to live, while under the rafters hung dried fish, salted meat and bacon, and the herbs so necessary to flavour the meals.”

Salary:
17 £ per year. Roughly $75 per year, or $6.25 per month.

Pastor’s Transportation:
A horse with a broken down stable next to the parsonage. Therefore, pastor often exposed to bad weather. Horse not always available. On one occasion, this minister was scheduled to preach at an Associational meeting some 200 miles away. “He set out on foot, preaching at various places along the way, and duly arrived on time.”

At this meeting, as he preached on the Prodigal Son, “a strong wave of emotion passed over the congregation; and there were tears and great joy, and loud praise; and these expressions of feeling continued for a long time after the preacher had finished his sermon.”

The above applies to one of the greatest Baptist preachers of all time, Christmas Evans of Wales. A preacher highly praised by B. H. Carroll, founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Evans (AD 1766-1838) was compared to John Knox and Charles H. Spurgeon.

The above financial situation was true of Evans in the prime of his life. God used him mightily; he preached with uncommon power. But his income was very low. This all probably speaks even more highly of Evan’s wife, Catherine.

Something to consider the next time you feel you are not making nearly as much as you are worth. I’m all for pastors making a good salary and living in a comfortable home. Some churches should be ashamed of the low wage they give their pastors (1 Corinthians 9:7-14; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). But on the other hand, too many seminary students seem to be called to pastor only affluent congregations. The affluent need good preaching, the underprivileged do as well.

Like the great one-eyed preacher Christmas Evans, God may have called you to preach salvation to the poor. That is no small calling. Your salary is not a measure of the value God places on your ministry.

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. -Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1-3.

(Above quotes from Christmas Evans - No Ordinary Preacher by Tim Shenton, Day One Publications, 2008.)

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 3, AD 2009.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Unlimited Atonement, Jesus Died For All

One of the five points or beliefs of Calvinism (aka Reformed Doctrines, Doctrines of Grace) is limited atonement. Limited atonement says that Jesus did not die for everyone. He shed His blood only for the elect, or those who would get saved. This is also called particular atonement.

While I agree with some aspects of Calvinism, I believe that the Bible clearly teaches unlimited or general atonement. In other words, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind, all humanity.

Unlimited atonement does not endorse universalism. Jesus died for all, but only those who receive Him as Savior will have their sins forgiven and be saved (John 1:12; 14:6; 1 Timothy 4:10; etc.).

The normal, natural meaning of a number of verses make it clear that God loves all, wants all to be saved, and that Jesus died for all.

Scripture that teaches unlimited atonement:
1. Who takes away the sin of the world! -John 1:29

2. For God so loved the world… For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. -John 3:16-17.
Notice how the word “world” is used.

3. I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. -John 12:47.

4. Christ died for the ungodly. -Romans 5:6.
Who are the ungodly? Both the elect and those who are not elect.

5. If One died for all, then all died; and He died for all…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. -2 Corinthians 5:14-16, 19.

6. Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. -1 Timothy 2:4.

7. Who gave Himself a ransom for all. -1 Timothy 2:6
Compare with the meaning of “all” in these verses and in Romans 3:23 and Ephesians 1:11.

8. Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. -1 Timothy 4:10.

9. [That Jesus] might taste death for everyone. -Hebrews 2:9.

10. Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9.

11. He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. -1 John 2:2.

12. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! -Matthew 23:37.
Jesus would have saved them all, but they “were not willing.”

13. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. -2 Peter 2:1
Even the false prophets were bought by Jesus. Christ is the Savior of all men, even false prophets. He has purchased their salvation. But only those who believe will be saved.

Some who believe in limited atonement point to verses that speak of Christ’s death for, and His love for, those who are saved. This in no way negates the other Scripture that says Jesus died for all, and loves all. Someone may say, “Bill loves Mary and Jeff.” That in no way means that Bill does not love anyone else. To say Jesus loves Daniel and Brittany, does not mean He loves no one else.

The above Scripture is the reason that most Baptists believe that Jesus shed His blood for everyone on the face of this earth. You can speak to any human on this earth and say with confidence, “Jesus loves you. He died for your sins and rose again so that you can be forgiven and made right with God. Jesus offers His salvation to you.”

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 27, AD 2009.

Related Articles:
Limited or Universal Atonement by Dr. David L. Allen; part 1 of 2
See other articles under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels) in lower right column.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

He Maketh No Mistake

Lately I’ve been especially busy. Man, the things I could write about pastoral ministry out of these recent weeks. But not now. So I haven’t had a lot of time to write for Gulf Coast Pastor. But I will leave you with a poem.

This week I preached the funeral service for a wonderful Christian man who turned 90 just a little over a month ago. I closed the message with a poem I sometimes use at Memorial Services. It is in Criswell’s Guidebook for Pastors, W. A. Criswell, Broadman; 1980. It has brought a measure of comfort to many.

He Maketh No Mistake

My Father’s way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I’m glad I know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I’ll trust my Lord to lead
For He doth know the way.

Tho’ night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break;
I’ll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight’s far too dim;
But come what may, I’ll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all He’ll make
Through all the way, tho’ dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
-A. M. Overton

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 24, AD 2009.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Random Advice to Pastors, Part 2

22. Whatever your salary, and it won’t be much, discipline yourself to live on less than you make. Tithe to your church and put at least 5% into your Guidestone (800/262-0511; guidestone.org) retirement.

23. Put as much as possible away for retirement. Have it taken out of your salary before you get your check, that way you won’t miss it. If you have taken it out of your own salary, when your church gives you a cost of living adjustment, gently remind them that the amount of your salary going into retirement also needs to be adjusted.

24. Love your people and they will overlook some of your faults and shortcomings.

25. There are times you need to defend yourself and times you don’t. Occasionally it can be good for you to be falsely maligned, and do nothing in your defense.

26. There are times you must face someone head on and go to war with them. But those times are not often.

27. Get at least moderate, regular exercise. Mow your yard. Park far out in the parking lot and do some extra walking. When making hospital visits, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get plenty of rest. Eat and drink your fruits and vegetables.

28. Pray for your enemies. It will do you good. It may also do them good.

29. Become an expert in at least one area that has nothing to do with the ministry.

30. Spend time doing something that relaxes you and that you enjoy. Hunting, fishing, sports, gardening. A healthy diversion can save and prolong your ministry.

31. As you have opportunity, help someone who will never have the ability to in any way repay you.

32. About once a year read a good biography of an outstanding preacher or Christian. Suggestions: D. L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday, Vance Havner, R. G. Lee, R. A. Torrey, W. A. Criswell, Bill Wallace, Bertha Smith, Lottie Moon, B. H. Carroll, Peter Cartwright, Christmas Evans…

33. Use illustrations and occasional jokes and poems in your sermons. They build interest and help people remember what you had to say. Get sermon illustration books and use commentaries with good illustrations.

34. One day you will stand unprepared and preach a great sermon. This may ruin your ministry. A great, unprepared sermon is the exception and not the rule.

35. Be gracious to fellow pastors. You don’t understand their situation or know what they’re going through. They are often falsely and unfairly accused, sometimes by their peers.

36. Read or listen to someone else’s sermon on a regular basis.

37. Encourage any young preachers in your church. Give them the opportunity to preach. Spend time with them.

38. Consult the following on a regular basis: Adrian Rogers, Warren Wiersbe, W. A. Criswell, Jerry Vines, J. Vernon McGee, H. A. Ironside, David Jeremiah, These are guys who know how to get through to the common man. In my humble opinion, these guys are also doctrinally sound.

39. Occasionally preach a really simple sermon. You may be surprised at how it blesses your congregation. Don’t do this all the time.

40. Don’t neglect the old saints in your congregation. Spend time with them and you may be surprised at how they love you back.

41. You can always be right, or you can have friends. Choose to have friends.

42. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 14, AD 2009.

Random Advice to Pastors, Part 1
How to Get a Life When Ministry Drains it Out of You
Other articles in lower right margin

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Random Advice to Pastors, Part 1

1. Love your people and realize they probably deserve a better pastor.

2. Get to know at least one older pastor that you can respect. Go to him often for advice.

3. Get involved in the Association, State and National Conventions. You need the fellowship and encouragement. They need your support. They need you to keep them on track. You sometimes need them to keep you on track.

4. Preach the Word of God. Make it interesting and easy to understand. You are not preaching to impress your professors or seminary friends. You are preaching to the common folks in the pews. You are preaching to please your Heavenly Father.

5. More talented and godly preachers than you had their ministries destroyed by immorality. Avoid even the hint of scandal.

6. Your wife sees and understands things that you do not. Unless you are an idiot, you will listen carefully to what she has to say.

7. Have younger friends in the ministry. One day your peers will be dead.

8. When you retire, be your pastor’s best friend. Be the kind of church member you wished you had when you were a pastor.

9. Periodically renew your first love and passion for Jesus and His Word.

10. Preach all the Bible, but understand that there is a reason for some of the best loved Bible passages. Preach from them often.

11. It is not a sin to preach a sermon again. Sometimes you can improve on it. Soloists do it all the time. But don’t do it as often as they do.

12. Remember that you never get spiritually deeper than when you lead a little boy or girl, man or woman, to Jesus.

13. Don’t get hung up on a particular doctrine in the Bible. There are a lot of doctrines in the Bible. They are all good.

14. Preach and teach the fundamental, basic doctrines of the Christian faith. Teach them well. Explain them. Make them interesting. Tell why they are important.

15. Teach what Baptists believe and why they believe it. There are good biblical reasons for these beliefs.

16. Occasionally get out good literature to your people. Don’t just assume they know what you know. They don’t. Don’t assume they will look it up on the internet. They won’t. Good books, tracts, pamphlets, DVDs. Don’t flood them with literature. Just push something good every now and then. Have a good denominational state paper sent to every family, or at least to your church leaders. The printed word will not reach everyone, but some will read it and be reinforced by it.

17. Your church is important, your wife and family are more important. Spend time with them. Laugh with them. Joke with them. You’ll never be perfect, but live what you preach in front of them.

18. Work on your humility. This can be most difficult. Humility is something that when you think you have it, you’ve lost it. But humility is not so much thinking low thoughts of yourself; it is just not thinking of yourself. Put God first, family second, your church third, yourself last.

19. Don’t have something going on at the church every day of the week, unless it is a special week, like a revival. Families need time together.

20. Take at least a full day off every week. Two days a week is better.

21. Learn how to relax with your family and friends and not care what happens at church. There are times you need to care what happens at church, and times you don’t need to care or worry. Tell God you are going to let Him worry about your church on your day off.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 7, AD 2009.

Random Advice to Pastors, Part 2
Baptists and Eternal Security, or Once Saved Always Saved; Part 1 of 3
Other articles in lower right margin

Monday, September 28, 2009

Saved By The Sinner's Prayer

God, be merciful to me a sinner! -Luke 18:13

This month I heard a young preacher say to a student group, “You’re not saved by a prayer. A prayer won’t save you.” This seems to be a popular view among some on the internet. Somewhat related, Anglican Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called an individual salvation formula “heresy.” I disagree.

Are we saved by a prayer? According to the Bible, yes. Prayer is simply talking to God; calling to God. Must we do something to be saved? Again, according to the Bible, yes.

“If you confess with your mouth,” “believe in your heart,” you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Romans 10:13; see Joel 2:32). The “Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12).

The tax collector prayed what has come to be known as the Sinner‘s Prayer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Did that prayer save him? Well, Jesus Himself said, “This man went down to his house justified” (Luke 18:13-14).

The thief on the cross prayed, “Lord, remember me.” Did this prayer save him? Yes, we have Jesus’ word on it, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). Jesus saved him, but a prayer saved the thief in the sense that he had to pray, believe, ask.

The Gospel (Good News) is that Jesus, God the Son, died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus has done the work of our salvation. He made the once for all, perfect sacrifice by shedding His blood for us (1 Peter 1:18-19; Hebrews 7:27; 9:12). But we are not automatically saved; we must repent, receive, believe, ask God to save us.
We are to “receive / accept” Jesus. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

We are to “believe” in Jesus for salvation (John 1:12b; 3:16, 36; 5:24; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 4:3; 1 Timothy 4:10). “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

We are to “ask.” Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10).

We are to “repent,” turn from our sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:37-38; 3:19; 26:20; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9).

How are we saved, regenerated? “For by grace you have been saved through faith..” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are saved by the grace of God. But wait, it also says we are saved through faith (also Luke 7:50; Romans 3:28; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 3:17). James 1:21 says we are saved by the implanted word. The point is that a whole lot of things happen simultaneously at regeneration. We are saved by grace; but on the other hand we are saved though faith, by the word, by calling on the name of the Lord. You do not enhance the grace of God by denying the necessity of believing and calling on the name of God. You do not detract from Jesus’ blood atonement by pointing out the role of repentance and faith.

“Dear Lord, I know that I’m a sinner, that I’ve done things that are wrong in Your eyes. I believe You love me and died on the cross for my sins. I believe You rose again and are living today. I ask You right now to forgive me of all my sins and to come into my heart and save me. Help me to make You the Lord, the Boss, of my life. Help me to live for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Will someone be saved if they pray this or a similar prayer? If they pray it and mean it, of course they will be saved. You have God’s Word on it.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 28, AD 2009.

Related Articles:
The Roman Road of Salvation
Also see Gulf Coast Pastor Articles in lower right hand margin. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Differences Between the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message

The Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M) is the doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Several years ago an evangelist asked me the difference between the 1963 and 2000 versions of the BF&M. The following are my thoughts.

The BF&M 1963 was a good, conservative statement of faith. But its statement on Scripture knowingly or unknowingly left a couple of loopholes for those who may be theologically liberal. Also, in 2000 Baptists felt we should deal with some more modern day challenges to our faith, challenges seldom heard in 1963.

1. There were a couple of changes in the article on Scripture. The 1963 BF&M stated the Bible “has... truth without any mixture of error.” Some said, therefore, the Bible has truth and the truth it has is without mixture of error. But it does not say the Bible is truth. So, according to this liberal view, the Bible has truth, in addition it may also have error. Therefore a liberal could state agreement with the 1963 BF&M, all the while believing there are errors in the Bible. Conservatives would be deceived into believing the liberal was really theologically a conservative. This is a case where there is a significant difference between has and is.

The 1963 BF&M also said, “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Christ.” While a little confusing to some, the sentence sounded good. After all, we believe in the preeminence of Jesus.

Some, however, interpreted that statement to mean, “If Jesus speaks directly to an issue it is true. If not, then we can make our own decision.” For example, while the Bible says homosexuality is sinful, Jesus did not directly say that, so we have the option of agreeing or disagreeing with those passages in the Bible. (Actually, Jesus did speak to the issue. He spoke of marriage as being between one man and one woman. Jesus also affirmed the truth of the Old Testament, and it directly speaks to this issue.) Some have said that Jesus and Paul disagreed on some issues, such as the role of women. Therefore we disregard what Paul wrote in the Bible in favor of what Jesus said. The conservative believes all Scripture is true and inspired by God, and that Jesus and Paul do not contradict each other.

The 2000 Baptist Faith & Message does away with these misunderstandings by stating that “all Scripture is true and trustworthy” and by removing the “criterion” statement.

While some liberals who believe there are errors in the Bible could use the above “loopholes” and sign the 1963 statement, they cannot do so with the 2000 statement. At least they could not sign the 2000 statement without being openly dishonest.

2. The 1963 BF&M does not speak to the issue of the Family, the 2000 statement does.

3. The 2000 BF&M says the pastor of a local church should be a male. The 1963 BF&M does not refer to this issue. The BF&M 2000 does, however, make it plain that both men and women are of equal worth before God and gifted for ministry.

4. The BF&M 2000 speaks against euthanasia, pornography, abortion, and homosexuality. The 1963 statement does not deal with these issues.

The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 is now the official statement of faith of the SBC. All our SBC seminary professors and missionaries are expected to sign it and not teach contrary to it. Other views are presented in class, but the professor is expected to believe what the majority of Baptists believe on these issues.

Some protest that we should not require professors and missionaries to sign this statement; they should be free to follow their own beliefs. They do have freedom to follow their own beliefs. We also have freedom to not provide them a living with our mission gifts.

It makes little sense for churches and pastors to support people with their mission money to teach what we do not believe. J. B. Gambrell, an old time Baptist leader and SBC president, maintained, “Baptists never ride a horse without a bridle.” We will always disagree on some issues, but the BF&M 2000 is a summary of some of our most basic beliefs.

*******

Read the entire Baptist Faith and Message 2000 at sbc.net. It can be purchased in pamphlet form at LifeWay Stores or ordered from LifeWay (800/458-2772). It’s a good idea for a church to have some copies available for their members and Sunday School teachers.

Note:  You may also be interested in Brief History of the SBC Conservative Resurgence and a couple other articles under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels) in the lower right margin.  Click the heading Conservative Resurgence
Preserving Unfermented Wine in Bible Times
Order copies of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 from LifeWay

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 21, AD 2009.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Scofield Bible, First 100 Years

C. I. Schofield; c. AD 1920

When I was a teenager our church had a testimony meeting right after Christmas. I stood and gave thanks that I had received a brand new Scofield Bible for Christmas. Another stood and said the same. Then a third said they had received a Scofield Bible.

My dad used to say that Jesus would one day return to this earth riding a white horse with a sword in one hand, and a Scofield Bible in the other hand.

The Scofield Reference Bible or Study Bible is 100 years old. It’s been a remarkable century. The Scofield Bible was virtually as common as the King James Version itself in many churches. For anyone serious about Bible study, the first purchase was this standard Study Bible published by Oxford University Press. It has sold millions of copies. Arno C. Gaebelein even wrote a book on The History of the Scofield Reference Bible (1943, 1991).

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843-1921), better known as C. I. Scofield was a Civil War veteran, lawyer, politician, and an alcoholic, who was gloriously saved by the grace of God. Led to the Lord through the witness of a YMCA worker. He became a Congregational, then a Presbyterian preacher. He was good friends with D. L. Moody, Hudson Taylor, James Brooks, J. M. Gray, Lewis Sperry Chafer. D. L. Moody asked Scofield to continue his ministry at Northfield. Dr. Chafer gave Scofield significant credit in the founding of Dallas Theological Seminary.

C. I. Scofield was a leader in the emerging Bible Conference movement and was a popular speaker. These Bible Conferences, as well as the Scofield Bible, were designed for the common man rather than an exclusive scholarly audience; one of the reasons for their wide success. Scofield also wrote extensively for the Sunday School Times.

A Study Bible contains not only the text of the Bible, but study notes, concordance, cross references, introduction to each book in the Bible, maps, explanations, and short articles on major subjects in the Bible. There are many other Bible study tools, but a Study Bible is a great place to begin.

Some object to a Study Bible saying there is a danger that the reader may assume the study notes are inspired Scripture. But I think most folks easily understand that it is only the Scripture itself that is divinely, unerringly inspired. So when you get a Scofield Bible, study it, but feel free to debate the notations. We’re all going to disagree with it at some points, but it is a great resource.

The original Scofield Bible (1909, 1917) was revised in 1967, and there is a centennial edition. Each edition is still available. The Scofield Bible is available in several translations, including my favorite, the New King James Version (NKJV).

There are several reasons for the wide influence of the Scofield Bible:

First, it was a pioneer in providing study notes with the text of the Bible and was virtually the only such Study Bible for years.

Second, it presented study notes in an easy to understand form. Preachers and laymen could use it whether or not they had a formal education.

Third, it was influential in its conservative theology. In a century in which historic Christianity was under assault by theological liberalism, the Scofield Bible stood as a lighthouse for the basic doctrines of our faith. Doctrines like the Divine Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture, the Virgin Birth of Jesus, Jesus’ Death for our sins and His literal bodily Resurrection , Jesus is God, the Return of Christ, Salvation by grace through faith, Resurrection and Judgment, Heaven and Hell.

Fourth, it was very influential in explaining the Premillennial Return of Christ. Premillennialism has been around for 2,000 years, but it rose to prominence in the 1900s due in part to the acceptance of the Scofield Bible.

With its conservative, Premillennial theology, some ministerial students enjoyed flaunting the Scofield Bible in front of their more liberal or Amillennial professors. Especially annoying to those professors was any student who dared use the Scofield Bible as a reference on a research paper. A favorite class comment, “But Dr. Cobb, that’s not what the Scofield Bible says.” And then there was that great old hymn, "My hope is built on nothing less, than Scofield's notes and Moody Press" :-).

So to the Scofield Bible I wish a Happy 100th Birthday! I still use it and pray it may have many more years of helping students better understand God’s infallible Word.

*******

Contributors to the original Scofield Bible (1909, 1917): C. I. Scofield, Henry G. Weston, James M. Gray, William J. Eerdman, A. T. Pierson, W. G. Moorehead, Elmore Harris, Arno C. Gaebelein, William L. Pettingill.

Contributors to the New Scofield Study Bible (1967): E. Schuyler English, Frank E. Gaebelein, William Culbertson, Charles L. Feinberg, Allan A. MacRae, Clarence E. Mason, Jr., Alva J. McClain, Wilber M. Smith, John F. Walvoord.

-by David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 14, AD 2009.

See related articles under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels) in lower right hand margin (Bible Study and Study Bibles).
Purchase at amazon.com the NKJV Scofield Study Bible III

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wit And Wisdom Of My Dad

This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord. -Psalm 102:18

The Writing of The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow

My dad, Joe E. Brumbelow (1930-2002), was a pastor for many years. He was never famous, powerful, wealthy, but like all faithful pastors he had a profound impact on a number of lives.

He died suddenly, unexpectedly in 2002. We usually remember stories for one or two generations, then they are forgotten. There were too many stories from his life and ministry that should not be lost.

About six months after his death, on a drive to Damon, Texas, dad’s hometown, I discussed with mom plans to write a few of his stories and sermon illustrations and make several copies. The booklet would probably be 20 or 30 pages.

I began to write the first stories that came to mind. Stories he used in preaching, incidents that happened in his life and ministry. His advice, his humor, his experience, growing up in a small town in the 1930s, his passion for revival and telling the lost about Jesus. His strong stand on the racial issue, his commitment to the inerrancy of the Bible and the SBC Conservative Resurgence. He was a strong inerrantist and premillennialist, yet he had good friends who disagreed. He was faithful to his wife and three boys, his boys are now all pastors. There was never a hint of moral scandal in his ministry. Brother Joe had a great love of people and a love for preaching the Word of God.

The stories (well over 200) are brief, most less than a page. So if you only have five minutes at a time to read, you can enjoy it. Several couples have told how one read it to the other in bed at night, or as they drove across country. One would tell the other, “You’ve got to hear this story.” One man recently said he was getting a copy for his son; he thought it could be of help to him. Another related that he wished he could live the kind of life that his son would want to write a book about him. Wit and Wisdom has been given to a number of young preachers at HBU, ETBU and elsewhere; I pray that it will especially be a help and encouragement to them. Some have already said it has been a help to their ministries.

Wit and Wisdom has hunting and fishing stories, history, folklore, sermon illustrations, stories of lives changed by the Gospel. It contains a lot of humor. It will make you laugh; it may also make you cry. I know that in its writing, I did both.

I asked mom, Mrs. Joe E. (Bonnie) Brumbelow, to write a chapter to women and preacher’s wives. Several pastor’s wives said they wished they had read her chapter when they first began their ministries. Bonnie even includes some favorite recipes in an appendix, and has her own best selling Cookbook (sold over 400 copies at the local Christian Bookstore, Sonshine Shop, Lake Jackson, TX); now in its second printing.

After about a year and a half, the “booklet” had grown from 20 pages to 240 pages. Louis and Kay Moore of Hannibal Books were extremely helpful in getting my book, The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow, published in 2005. It has been recommended by Adrian Rogers, Ed Young, Franklin Atkinson, Jimmy Draper, T. C. Pinckney, R. L. Sumner, Paige Patterson.

*******
Some Recommendations of Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow

“You will enjoy this book. Some of the funniest stories you will ever read are contained in the pages of this volume. As I read these stories I laughed and you will laugh, too. You will laugh out loud…”
-Foreword by Dr. John A. Hatch, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lake Jackson, TX.

“Dear David, Thank you, my friend, for the finished product - The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow. I spent much time this morning reading, smiling, amening, and just nodding my head. It is a beautiful book, easy to read, and full of genuine spiritual wisdom. God is love. Jesus is wonderful. In His Dear Name.”
-Adrian Rogers, Memphis, TN. June 21, 2005

“David, it is a great book. Like you I am a pastor’s son. My father was a simple country pastor for more that 50 years. The kind of wisdom that he passed to me from many years of practical ministry is found on every page of this book. You did a great job of pulling it together…Let me say as boldly as possible, this book would be a great addition to the resources employed in the training of every young pastor. In fact, it probably ought to be mandatory reading and re-reading for us all.”
-Kevin Stilley, Fort Worth, TX; kevinstilley.com

Additional Comments on The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow

Already it has been a source of illustrations for me.”
-Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.

“I laughed, I wept, I praised God repeatedly in its reading…This is the kind of book you can sit down and read from ‘kiver to kiver’ (and many will, too engrossed to put it down), but at the same time it is the kind you can read a little, quit, pick it up later and not miss a beat. Or you could pick it up and start reading any place: front, back or middle.”
-Dr. R. L. Sumner, The Biblical Evangelist, NC.

“Throughout, you will be laughing, crying, and reaping lessons and anecdotes to use in your own ministry or with your own family. Wit and Wisdom is an easy read, an enjoyable read, and very helpful to both laymen and ministers.”
-T. C. Pinckney, The Baptist Banner, Virginia, April, 2007.

“His sense of humor was contagious and his seriousness about the things that really counted was remarkable.”
-Jimmy Draper, President, LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, TN..

“Delightful reading of this book will refresh, teach, and inspire God’s people. ”
-Franklin Atkinson, Th.D., longtime Bible professor at East Texas Baptist University, Marshall, TX.

“You will enjoy the warmth and emotion that permeate the pages.”
-H. Edwin Young, Pastor, Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas.

Referring to how she laughed, “This book is better than going to a psychologist!”
-Esther Cline, DeLand, Florida.

*******

HOW TO ORDER:
The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow can be ordered directly from: 
your local bookstore
hannibalbooks.com
amazon.com

A signed copy can be ordered at: David R. Brumbelow, P.O. Box 300, Lake Jackson, Texas 77566 USA; $12.95 postpaid, 10 or more copies $8 each.  240 pages. 

If you get it, I think you’ll enjoy it. If you read it, I’d love to hear from you.

Mrs. Joe E. (Bonnie) Brumbelow’s Cookbook, Masterpieces From Our Kitchen, can also be ordered from the same Lake Jackson address for $10; 10 or more $6 each. 

233 recipes, some of the best food you will ever wrap your lips around!  All recipes have been personally used and endorsed by Bonnie, a pastor's wife and mother of three boys.  Recipes include Sugar-Free, Tamales, Eggrolls.  Includes Mexican & Chinese recipes.  Most recipes are easy with simple ingredients. 

-by David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 5, AD 2009.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Legalism Really Means

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight. -Romans 3:20

Charges of legalism are rampant in parts of the Christian world. Some seem to gain a lot of satisfaction in calling people names for Jesus. Specifically, some seem to delight in calling legalists those who are against the recreational use of mind altering drugs (alcohol, marijuana, etc.).

Some say legalism is believing something is wrong that is not explicitly stated in the Bible. If that is true, however, then those who oppose slavery are legalists. After all, the Bible does not actually say, “Thou shalt not own a slave.”

Some grant that you can have a quiet personal conviction, but if you say that practice is wrong for others, then you are a legalist. So apparently you can be personally opposed to slavery and be acceptable, but if you think slavery is wrong for others, you are now a card-carrying legalist.

With this definition those who oppose pornographic DVDs are legalists. After all, the Bible says nothing about DVDs, DVD players, TV, or Computers. Some people love loopholes.

With the above definition the list of legalists would be long. The biblical loopholes would be vast. The “non-legalists” can then say, “Ah, the Bible doesn’t exactly, specifically, precisely, in so many words, say not to do it, so go for it!” The Bible, however, gives clear teaching and principles that do cover issues like the ones above. (See Gulf Coast Pastor alcohol articles for July, 2009.)

To some, legalism is simply when you are against anything they’re for. Some have called anyone who opposes sex outside of marriage a legalist. One fellow called others legalists because they would not agree with his getting “spiritually married” to someone when he was still legally married to another.

Sure, people can get too picky, too judgmental, and demand that everyone do exactly what they say. But that’s not legalism. We should be able to consider whether biblical teaching applies to a practice without hurling charges of legalism and Pharisaism. And legalism is certainly not trying to live a godly life with biblical convictions.

On the other hand, some have turned the tables on the accusers: “A legalist is someone who loves Jesus more than you do.” ”When there is something in the Bible that churches don’t like, they call it ‘legalism.’”

The true definition of biblical legalism.Legalism is a false belief that attempts to merit favor with God by the works of the law, by doing good deeds. Legalism is condemned in Romans 3:20 and Galatians 2:16. Rather than by the works of the law, we are to obtain favor with God through faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus (Romans 3:21-28); then we are to do good works.

A few quotes:“…legalistic, a religion of achievement, giving ground for human pride (cf. Rom. 3:27-28; 9:11, 32; 11:6).” -Dictionary of Paul and his Letters, Intervarsity Press. 1993; p. 843.
“…legalism, the attempt to merit favor with God by good works.” -Ibid; p. 976.

“The Jewish legalists had perverted the divine intention of the law and made it into a way to gain God’s favor based on personal merit.” -Robert H. Mounce, Romans, The New American Commentary, Broadman, Nashville, TN, 1995; p. 208.

Speaking of Romans 3:20, “In this verse ‘law’ both times is without the definite article in the Greek; so it means ‘legalism.’” -Herschel H. Hobbs, Romans, Word Books, Waco, TX, 1977; p. 44.

“Biblically speaking, ‘legalism’ is trusting in the law for salvation. In Galatians (which is a good example of legalism), the Judaizers were saying that without circumcision one could not be saved. Paul blasted that idea to smithereens! ‘Legalism’ is a word greatly misused and maligned by uneducated preachers and Christians today, who refer to standards about holy living as legalism. If someone, shall we say, preaches against booze (or tobacco, or movies, or dancing, or whatever) some immediately shout ‘legalism,’ showing their ignorance.” -Dr. R. L. Sumner; Editor, Biblical Evangelist; author.

“More precisely, legalism is the false belief that keeping certain laws - whether biblical or not - can be used as a condition for meriting God’s grace, whether for justification or sanctification (see Galatians 3:3). But one can legislate wise laws about human behavior without being legalistic in the biblical sense of the concept. Otherwise, laws against drunk driving and illegal immigration - and a host of other things beneficial to society - would be legalistic and, thereby, wrong.” -Dr. Norman L. Geisler; president, Southern Evangelical Seminary; author.

Those who oppose what you are for, are not legalists; unless they maintain their practices are the way to get to Heaven. Argue your case on the merits, but don’t start calling the fellow who may be winning the argument, a legalist.

- by David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 24, AD 2009

Charles H. Spurgeon on Alcohol
Alcohol Condemned in the Bible
Deuteronomy 14:26 - Does it Commend Alcohol?
 
Other articles in lower right hand margin under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Church Buildings - Dos and Don'ts #3

21. A little extra money when the building is being built, can save a ton of money and trouble in the future.

22. Sometimes volunteer help can get mighty expensive. Make sure they know what they’re doing.

23. Never put a 90 degree angle in a drain line. If you have to turn 90 degrees, do it with two 45 degree angles. 90 degree angles get stopped up more easily. Never lay a too small drainpipe. I’ve actually seen a church drain line of ½ inch pipe and 90 degree angles through the concrete foundation; it was also stopped up.

24. Make the church sign extra large. Consider how fast people are driving by in front of your building. Put up a temporary sign, drive by 5 or 10 miles over the speed limit (with the highway patrol‘s permission, of course :-) ), and see if you can easily read it. Digital signs are nice, fancy, and convenient, but most people driving by do not have time to read your message.

25. Usually a church sign is best if it is placed perpendicular to the main road in front of the church. If you are on a corner, don’t be tempted to angle it toward both roads; that just makes it difficult to read from any direction. Pick one road or the other, and place it perpendicular and as close to the road as possible.

26. If you have leftover dirt from a retention pond, etc., make a berm in an area that will not affect drainage; or drainage can be diverted around it. A berm is a gently rolling hill. Make the slope gentle enough that it can be easily mowed. The kids will love playing on it.

27. A nice nursery and outdoor playground is an advertisement that young adults and kids are welcome. If nothing else, just build a solid, safe, swing set and treehouse out front or to the side of the building.

28. If you have a church parsonage, never locate it next to the church building. A pastor and his family need their privacy. A parsonage should be at least a mile or two from the church.

29. State conventions and LifeWay have helpful, often free, information on constructing church facilities.

30. God bless Volunteer Christian Builders, Texas Baptist Men, and other Christian groups that volunteer to construct buildings for churches and Christian camps. If they come to your church, feed them well!

I know there are many other considerations. But the above can save you a world of aggravation. (Church Buildings - Dos and Don’ts; part 3 of 3)

-by David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 18, AD 2009.


More articles in lower right margin.  


Monday, August 17, 2009

Church Buildings - Dos and Don'ts #2

11. All exposed wood should be resistant to rotting. Use only treated wood, cedar, or hardiplank. Never use untreated wood when that wood may be exposed to moisture.

12. Have someone who is knowledgeable about drainage to keep an eye on all building and dirt moving. Often people trying to solve drainage problems, instead make them worse. Remember that in a heavy rain massive amounts of water will be pouring off the roof. Proper drainage will allow that water to quickly flow away from the building.

13. Have outdoor water faucets on each side of the building. This helps tremendously with landscaping. If you can’t easily water plants, they usually will not be watered. Have an outdoor above ground water cutoff. Outdoor electrical outlets are also convenient.

14. Make the building safe, solid, and able to stand the test of time. Get the advice of good carpenters. Spend some extra time and money to build it right.

15. It may help to place the restrooms, kitchen, and any rooms that need water in the same general vicinity. A shower or two in the restrooms are also convenient.

16. Make large, nice restrooms. Make both adequate, but make the ladies restrooms larger. Don’t force them to stand in line.

17. Keep the building well lighted and inviting during evening services. Never use light bulbs with a tiny amount of wattage. After all, we are to be the light of the world. I once changed a tiny light bulb with a much larger one in a church entrance; it made such a difference people thought the room had been repainted.

18. Place long, narrow, vertical windows on all the classroom doors so people can see in. This is for convenience and can deter any improper activity in the classroom. Outside glass doors are inviting to visitors and welcome people in.

19. A church cannot hardly have too much property. Until needed, extra land can be rented out or if in the country, let the neighbor run cows on it. Use it for a baseball field. It is much better to have too much property than not enough.

20. A church building can scarcely have too much storage space. Build extra and larger closets. (Church Buildings - Dos and Don’ts; part 2 of 3)

-by David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 17, AD 2009.


More Articles in lower right margin.  


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Church Buildings - Dos and Don'ts #1

I’m not an expert in architecture or carpentry. But there are some obvious things I’ve noticed through the years that can make a significant difference in church buildings and landscaping. Some can save a world of headache down through the years. This is primarily related to small churches, but most will apply to churches of all sizes. These comments are in no particular order.

1. Never have flat roof on a church building. Years ago SWBTS professor Dr. Gary Waller noted that they always seem to put the drain at the high point of that flat roof. So there is standing water on the roof just trying to find a way in.

2. Tie down the roof with hurricane clips, galvanized metal straps, or whatever will work in high winds. Build it extra strong and secure.

3. Use galvanized nails or outdoor/exterior screws in all areas that may receive rain or moisture. Regular interior nails and screws can rust out.

4. Always put the church parking lot at the front, or at least to the side of the buildings. A full parking lot that can easily be seen is free advertisement to the church. I had a preacher friend with nice, new facilities and plenty of room. But the parking lot was behind the church building. On a Sunday morning with a full church, people driving by thought the church was empty or abandoned.

5. Build up the church foundation at least six inches higher than needed. A little extra cost to prevent flooding will make a world of difference in years to come. A building on a concrete foundation cannot later be raised. So haul in extra dirt and build it high.

6. Never make the sidewalks the same level or even close to the same level as the inside of the church building. This forms a moat and encourages flooding and soggy ground.

7. When laying the sidewalks, every so often put drainage pipes (3 inch pvc pipes minimum) under the sidewalk. Especially put them in natural drainage areas. Or you can lower the sidewalk in certain areas to allow rain water to flow over it.

8. Do not bring the pavement right up to the foundation of the buildings. Leave at least 10 feet between pavement and the church building. Over 10 feet is even better. Leave room for a green space, shade or fruit trees, shrubs, some kind of landscaping. This can really improve the appearance of your buildings. Too many leave no space or just two or three feet between paved areas and the building; that is not nearly enough room and nothing of significance can be planted in such a confined area.

9. Some quick landscape notes: Keep string trimmers and mowers away from all trees and shrubs. Don’t let a trimmer ever touch the trees. Damage the bark and the tree is seriously damaged. Trimmers are murder on trees! Countless trees have been slowly killed this way. Plant trees in a well drained sunny location, plant them an inch or two higher than they were growing in the pot, water in well, and keep the ground around them covered in mulch. Water them often for the first month or two until they are established.

10. Do not use the cheapest, or the most expensive building materials. If at all possible, especially don’t use the cheapest.

-by David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 12, AD 2009.

Church Buildings - Dos and Don'ts #2
Church Buildings - Dos and Don'ts #3
Adrian Rogers on "Wit & Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow"

Monday, August 3, 2009

Brief History of the SBC Conservative Resurgence

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. -Psalm 119:160

1. In the 1970s Southern Baptists were still strong in doctrine and evangelism, but slowly headed toward theological liberalism. This had already occurred in several mainline denominations. Once it happened, it seemed there was no turning back.

2. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) had historically believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. This view, however, was being seriously challenged in SBC seminaries and literature.

3. The SBC was firmly controlled by moderates and some liberals.

4. Previously conservatives had passed motions against liberalism. These had very limited success. Officials and trustees were often defensive, obstructive, even deceptive in dealing with doctrinal concerns.

5. Real, lasting correction would only occur by changing SBC leadership: the president, committees, trustees, agency leaders.

6. To change these leaders, conservatives would have to attend the SBC in large numbers, vote for solid conservative presidents, who would then make solid conservative appointments. This would eventually filter down to the trustees and the leadership of our agencies. Since trustee terms are staggered, this process was estimated to take at least ten years.

7. Paul Pressler, Paige Patterson, and a multitude of pastors and laymen began to explain these issues to the churches and common people of the SBC. It all centered around the necessity of Baptists attending the convention as duly elected messengers and voting their convictions; especially voting for a conservative president. Some of these meetings were large, most were small. Some meetings involved as few as two or three, but the message was spread.

8. The primary issue was the inerrancy of the Bible. Conservatives believed our mission money should not go to support those who believe the Bible contains errors.

9. The Conservative Resurgence was a spiritual concern. Conservatives prayed and voted, out of a profound concern for the faithful proclamation of God’s Word. They poured out their hearts and souls to ensure future generations would hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed in truth and clarity.

10. In the year of our Lord 1979, conservatives came to the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas. Many attended at great personal sacrifice. The majority were just common Baptists from some of the largest, and smallest, SBC churches.

11. The election was between six nominees. On the first ballot, Adrian Rogers was elected the new president of the SBC. He then appointed and nominated conservatives to SBC committees.

12. Conservatives stayed faithful to the cause. Against great opposition, they would continue to elect conservative presidents, and confirm presidential nominees. Conservative presidents included: Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Jimmy Draper, Charles Stanley, Jerry Vines, Morris Chapman, Ed Young, Jim Henry, Tom Elliff, Paige Patterson.

13. Some conservative changes were made as early as 1979 and 80. Substantial changes began to be made in the late 1980s and 1990s. In the 1990s all the presidents of our seminaries would affirm the inerrancy of the Bible.

14. The Conservative Resurgence firmly established that Southern Baptists believe the Bible is without error. Inerrancy is a crucial, basic doctrine. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (doctrinal statement of the SBC) would affirm, “all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.”

15. Southern Baptists owe undying honor and respect to conservative leaders Paul Pressler, Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Jimmy Draper, Charles Stanley, Jerry Vines, Morris Chapman, Ed Young, Jim Henry, Tom Elliff. They saved the SBC from liberalism.

16. Southern Baptists owe great respect to those multitudes of dedicated, common, regular Baptists who faithfully attended the conventions in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s and voted their biblical convictions. Because of their sacrifice and dedication, millions will be blessed.

17. Baptists should never forget that we have historically held to the inerrancy and final authority of God’s Word. We should never forget the battle that was fought over inerrancy. Teach it to the generations to come. Be eternally vigilant in keeping the Southern Baptist Convention lashed to the infallible Word of God. Never forget!

Glossary:
1. Conservative - believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and considers it a non-negotiable. Insists SBC leaders, professors, missionaries, employees believe that God’s Word is totally true and trustworthy. Our mission money should not go to support those who believe the Bible contains errors.
2. Moderate - someone who may or may not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. What contrasts him from conservatives, is that with him inerrancy is negotiable. A moderate will tolerate, accept, ignore, protect, maybe even welcome SBC leaders, professors, missionaries, employees who do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible.
3. Liberal - in the context of the SBC, one who believes there are errors, or could be errors in the Bible.
4. Inerrancy - the Bible is inspired by God and is without error. It is totally true and trustworthy. This refers to the original manuscripts of the Bible, not to a particular Bible translation. “Infallible,” “totally true and trustworthy” are used synonymously with “inerrancy.”

Read more about it:
The Truth In Crises by James C. Hefley, Hannibal Books, Garland, TX, (six volumes); 1986-1991.
A Hill On Which To Die by Judge Paul Pressler, Broadman & Holman, Nashville, TN; 1999.
The Baptist Reformation by Jerry Sutton, Broadman & Holman, Nashville, TN; 2000.
Anatomy Of A Reformation: The Southern Baptist Convention, 1978-2004 by Paige Patterson, Office of Public Relations, SWBTS, Fort Worth, TX; 2004.
Subscribe to The Southern Baptist Texan

-by David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 3, AD 2009.

Related Articles:
Q & A on SBC Conservative Resurgence, part 1
Q & A on SBC Conservative Resurgence, part 2
Differences Between the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message

Monday, July 27, 2009

Evidence for the Two Wine Theory

“Gather wine and summer fruit and oil.” -Jeremiah 40:10

Does “wine” always mean fermented or intoxicating wine? Do the Bible words for wine always mean intoxicating wine? Of course not, although many say they do.

Some drinkers attempt to prove their case first by asserting all wine is fermented (One Wine Theory). Then, every time the Bible or other literature says “wine” they insist that can only mean the alcoholic stuff. Their theory sounds good until you do some research.

The most common words in the Bible for wine are the Hebrew words “yayin” and “tirosh,” and the Greek word “oinos.” Tirosh usually, some say always, meant unfermented wine. Yayin and oinos were both used to refer to fermented and unfermented wine (Two Wine Theory); and all three words were used interchangeably. For example:

1. Proverbs 3:9-10 refers to fresh, unfermented wine just harvested. The Hebrew word is tirosh. There are several significant points.

First, this is a clear case of un-intoxicating wine in the Bible.

Second, about 200 BC Jewish scholars translated this word “tirosh” into the Greek word “oinos.” They did not even translate it as “new oinos,” just “oinos.” Their translation, the Septuagint (LXX), was used by Jesus and His disciples. The LXX treated the words, yayin, tirosh, and oinos synonymously. Here they used oinos for unfermented wine.

Third, this verse is translated into English with the word “wine,” or “new wine,” even though it is a definite reference to unfermented wine. Why is this significant? It shows that even the modern day English versions use the word “wine” to refer to non-alcoholic wine. So much for those who say there is no such thing as “unfermented wine.”

2. Isaiah 16:10 says, “No treaders will tread out wine (yayin) in the presses.” You tread out unfermented wine, not fermented wine, in the presses. Jewish translators of the LXX translated yayin here, into the Greek word oinos. The modern English versions of the Bible translate yayin in this verse into our word, “wine,” even though it refers to unfermented wine. (See also: Deuteronomy 11:14; Isaiah 65:8; Jeremiah 40:10, 12; 48:33; Joel 2:24)

3. Mark 15:36 refers to vinegar as sour wine (oinos). Wine has three basic stages, non-alcoholic, alcoholic, then it turns to vinegar. So oinos is not just used of alcoholic wine, not just of non-alcoholic wine, but also used of vinegar. Once again, oinos is shown to be a broad word.

By the way, with a little effort, wine can be preserved in any of these three stages.

4. Ancient non-biblical quotations:

A Greek Poet and physician of the 2nd century BC wrote: “Says Nicander: And Cenus having squeezed the juice of the grapes, into hollow cups, called it wine (oinos).”

Aristotle wrote, “that sweet wine (oinos) would not intoxicate.”

“At the time of festivals, he went about, and took wine (oinos) from the fields.” -Athenaeus, Book VI, sect. 89, Voyage of Nymphodorus, the Syracusan; 320 BC. You don’t gather “fermented” wine from the fields.

Many more ancient examples could be given.

5. “The Hebrew, Greek, and Latin words which are rendered ‘wine,’ mean simply the expressed juice of the grape.” -Dr. Adam Clark, quoted in Communion Wine and Bible Temperance by William M. Thayer, 1869; p. 13.

6. Yayin - “what is pressed out, grape juice.” -Dr. Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Eerdmans, 1970; p. 1058.
Oinos - “wine, grape juice.” -Dr. Robert Young, ibid; p. 1058.

7. “A host of strong evidence points to the fact that yayin can mean not only [fermented] wine but also grape juice, and that God’s purpose for the vine was for the latter.” -Robert P. Teachout, The Use of “Wine” in the Old Testament, Doctoral Dissertation for Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979; p. 312.

8. “The word yayin was used to indicate fermented or unfermented wine.” -Yael Zisling, Winemaking in Israel. Published by gemsinisrael.com; August / September, 2001.
This is a modern, pro fermented wine site. Notice the quote recognizes both yayin and wine as generic words.

Today many scholars (but not all) just repeat what other scholars have said about wine always being intoxicating, without considering the evidence. Many mistakenly believe the ancients had no way of preserving unfermented wine, so they assume it must have all been fermented. But the experts can be wrong. Consider the evidence.

Therefore when the Bible says Jesus made wine (oinos; John 2), don’t just assume it means 14% alcohol content wine. If you assume that, that is not just taking the Bible for what it says; that is your biased opinion.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, July 27, 2009.

PS - Several have asked me to write about the issue of the Bible and alcohol and I have now done so for several posts. It is one of the hot topics of our day, when we have some pastors militantly promoting the idea of social drinking. In the future I will be posting more articles about this subject, but will also be posting on other topics.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment here, or write to: nsbc77562 [at] LWOL [dot] com; or P.O. Box 300, Lake Jackson, TX 77566.

Biblical Principles Condemn Alcohol
Preserving Unfermented Wine in Bible Times
2006 SBC Resolution on Alcohol Use in America
Deuteronomy 14:26 - Does it Commend Alcohol?
Other articles in lower right hand margin under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels).
Ancient Wine and the Bible by David R. Brumbelow due to be published October 1, 2011. It will cover these areas much more extensively. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Common Wine in the Bible

I’ve heard it said or implied many times. The only drink they had in Bible times was fermented wine. The water was unsafe, so they had to drink intoxicating wine. Since they had no refrigeration they had no way to keep it from fermenting.

But think about it - if that were true, men, women, and children would have been falling down drunk 24 hours a day. Even drinkers today also drink un-intoxicating drinks.

Like today, ancient folks had many different kinds of drinks (Nehemiah 5:18). Those drinks were usually generically called “wine” (yayin, tirosh, oinos). Some wine was fermented, some unfermented, some of a very low alcohol content, all were usually mixed with two to four parts water.

Even their intoxicating drink was no comparison to the much greater alcoholic content of today’s liquor. They did not know the process of distillation used today. Of course they could still get drunk on that lower alcoholic content wine, but they had to work at it to do so. And that was expensive.

Since we don’t know how to preserve unfermented wine (or grape juice) without modern day refrigeration, we assume they didn’t know how either. That is a false assumption. We project our ignorance onto them. However, they knew and used several ways to preserve unfermented wine. They could even keep fresh grapes for months.

Some quick examples:

Shireh 
“Concentrating grape juice down by heating is still used to make the popular shireh of modern Iran and was known to the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia as well as the Greeks and Romans. It enables fruit to be preserved, and, diluted with water, it produces a refreshing, nonalcoholic beverage.” -Ancient Wine: The Search For The Origins Of Viniculture by Patrick E. McGovern, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2003; p. 54.
This book is very pro fermented wine. But notice it reveals a common way today, and in ancient times, to preserve wine in an unfermented condition.

Common Wine Was Without Alcohol 
“Fermented wine was the least common [drink in Bible times] and the percentage of alcohol was small. New wines were wholly without alcohol and were easily preserved in this condition for several months. There were also wines in which, by boiling or by drugs, the process of fermentation was prevented and alcohol excluded. These were mixed with water and constituted the most common drink of the land.” -Dr. Lyman Abbott (1835-1922), Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, p. 973.  Abbott was a Congregational minister, scholar, editor, and author.

Wine Often Was Simple Fruit Syrup & Water 
“It should never be forgotten that when reading the Bible and the classic pagan writers of ‘Wine,’ we are seldom dealing with the strongly intoxicating and loaded liquids to which that name is alone attached in the English language, but usually with beverages such as above described. They were as harmless and sober as our own Teas, Coffees, and Cocoas. Had they not been so, the ancient populations would have been perpetually in a more or less state of drunkenness…These facts should never be forgotten when we read of ‘Wine’ there, - for it was simple fruit syrup, except where especially stated to be of the intoxicating kinds.” -Ferrar Fenton of England, The Bible and Wine.
By age 28, Fenton had acquired a working knowledge of 25 classical, Oriental, and modern languages. Fenton produced one of the first modern English translations of the Bible.

So don’t just assume that every time the Bible says “wine” it is referring to strong alcoholic wine.

Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. -Proverbs 3:9-10

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, July 21, AD 2009.

Related Articles:
Biblical Principles Condemn Alcohol
Preserving Unfermented Wine in Bible Times
2006 SBC Resolution on Alcohol Use in America
Deuteronomy 14:26 - Does it Commend Alcohol?
Other articles in lower right hand margin under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels).
Ancient Wine and the Bible by David R. Brumbelow due to be published October 1, 2011.